Recalling A Forgotten Heavyweight Slugfest – The Astonishing Mike Weaver – James Pritchard Fight

By James Slater - 03/28/2024 - Comments

Thank heavens for YouTube. There are to be found on the channel some real gems from the sport, fights that have long since faded from memory but can be revived. One such fight took place at heavyweight back in August of 1987, and it really has to rank as one of the wildest, most action-packed heavyweight slugfests of that decade.

Mike Weaver, a former WBA heavyweight ruler, met an unbeaten contender named James Pritchard. The fight has to be seen to be believed.

Weaver, aged 35 and sporting a 29-13-1(20) record, slugged it out with Pritchard, aged 26 and unbeaten at 15-0-1(11) in the younger man’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

A fast start ensued, with both men firing out plenty of left jabs. Both men appeared to be in great physical shape. In round two a slugfest broke out, with both men launching and landing bombs. But soon enough it was Weaver who was getting the worst of it, by quite a margin. The stocky and powerful Pritchard fired out a huge volume of punches, with Weaver hurt on the ropes, taking it all. Weaver was really having to soak up punishment, as Pritchard threw a blizzard of hefty punches.

The third saw Pritchard continue administering a beating, his right uppercut snapping Weaver’s head back. But once again, “Hercules,” as Weaver was known, managed to take it all without falling. Already it had been a quite thrilling fight, albeit a largely one-sided one.

Weaver finally began to get a foothold in the fight in the fourth. And then Weaver exploded with a combination of his own, the shots hurting Pritchard and forcing him back to the ropes, where another huge right hand had Pritchard turning his back on Weaver. For a second or two, it looked as though Pritchard had quit. Instead, Pritchard was given a standing eight count by the referee, and on the fight raged.

Now it was Pritchard who was having to take the hurt, and lots of it. Still, Pritchard showed he had as much heart as Weaver had, with him fighting back off the ropes at the end of the red-hot round. How neither man had been knocked down was anyone’s guess.

Round five saw a quite amazing comeback by Pritchard, as he went back on attack mode. Weaver was now tired and he was unable to hide it. Once again, Weaver was shipping some serious punishment, his head rocking and rolling. But also once again, Weaver fired back, again from the ropes. Fans in attendance had no clue who would win this fight!

The end came in the sixth round. With both men unloading wallops, Weaver got home with another big right to the head, with the former champ then quite literally chasing Pritchard across the ring. The stricken Pritchard looked to be totally gone, his arms hanging down by his sides, his eyes glazed. Another eight count was administered, and on the brutal battle went. Weaver crashed home with a series of rights but still Pritchard would not fall.

Finally, the third man had seen enough (more than enough) and the fight was stopped. Weaver collapsed to the mat in victory. What a wild and crazy fight this one had been.

Weaver was past his best at the time, but he was still full of heart, guts and power. Pritchard had failed his first big test at pro level, but what heart and guts he had shown in defeat. This closet classic is well worth checking out. Weaver would fight on until 2000, with him going 11-5 after the Pritchard fight. Pritchard would fight on until 1997, with the man from Louisville trying his hand at both heavyweight and cruiserweight. Pritchard’s final numbers read 30-18-2(25).

Pritchard fell into trial horse mode soon after the loss to Weaver, with him unable to register a win over a noted fighter. This is a shame, because Pritchard had some ability as a fighter. And he had a ton of raw courage.

Together, Weaver and Pritchard gave us a real rock ’em, sock ’em shoot-out in the summer of 1987.

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