In sad news, it has been reported by numerous sources how Johnny Bumphus, the former WBA light-welterweight champion, has passed away at the age of just 59. The cause of death is not yet official. Bumphus, a fine amateur boxer who captured, among other things, the 1979 national Golden Gloves title, would also have boxed at the 1980 Olympics but for the U.S boycott of the Games in Moscow.
Turning pro in November of 1980, the tall southpaw from Tacoma, Washington, who would carry the nickname “Bump City,” won his first 22 bouts, before beating Lorenzo Garcia in January of 1984 to take the vacant WBA 140 pound title. Unfortunately for Bumphus, who was trained by George Benton and managed by Lou Duva, his reign would be short-lived.
Beaten, in a big upset, by Gene “Mad Dog” Hatcher less than five months after winning the belt, Bumphus was stopped via 11th round technical KO in a wild fight. Bumphus moved on, and up in weight, as best he could following the defeat and the crazy and ugly brawl that came after his shock defeat (check the fight out on YouTube).
The finest moment Bumphus enjoyed post-Hatcher was a technical decision win over Marlon Starling, the May 1986 win earning Johnny the USBA welterweight strap and a shot at new welterweight king (and Don Curry conqueror) Lloyd Honeyghan. Yet more controversy followed.
Fighting in the U.K, Bumphus challenged the raw and aggressive Honeyghan, with Johnny himself, along with Duva, stating it was a case of win the fight and the title, or retire. With no legs, drained and reportedly battling a drug habit, Bumphus was no match for the relentless Honeyghan. Beaten up and dropped in the opening round, Bumphus was then cracked by Honeyghan before he had time to get off his stool and resume fighting in round two.
Honeyghan, taking advantage of Duva’s slow departure from the ring, and having heard the bell as he was over half-way across the ring and was dangerously close to Bumphus, belted his challenger with a big left hand to the head. Duva went nuts, the ref took a point from Honeyghan, and then the fight was over.
Duva said he’d protest, but the fact was he and Benton had managed to get their fighter one last good payday. Johnny retired after the loss, as he had promised would be the case.
A low-key figure in retirement, Bumphus finished with a fine 29-2(20) record.
Our condolences go out to Johnny’s family and friends at this time.