Fighting in a golden era for middleweights, Philadelphia legend Bennie Briscoe ranks as one of the toughest,hardest and best 160-pounders to have never got his hands on a world title. Imagine, though, if the shaven-headed warrior was around, and at his fighting peak, today. Surely, with all the many titles that are around these days, “Bad” Bennie would have claimed at least one of them. Maybe, just maybe, Briscoe would also have given current king Gennady Golovkin the fierce test fans so want to see GGG engage in.
Briscoe, who was actualy born in Augusta, Georgia (in February of 1943) turned pro in Philly in September, 1962 and he went on to do battle with some of the finest middleweights in boxing history. Briscoe, who came up tough, went in with a veritable who’s who of middleweight stars of the 1970s. George Benton, Carlos Monzon, “Dynamite” Billy Douglas, Rodrigo Valdez, Emile Griffith, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart and Vito Antuofermo are eight of the terrific fighters Briscoe went in with, and of course he also met the fearsome Marvin Hagler towards the end of his amazing, 20 year pro career.
Imagine a fighter from the current era going in with that many great and dangerous fighters again and again. Briscoe was from a time when boxing and fighters could afford no such luxuries as “cherry picking.” Yet despite the Murderer’s Row he went in with, only one man ever stopped Briscoe. During a career that saw him partake in 96 fights (winning 66 of them) Briscoe was stopped only by Valdez – who scored a TKO over him in the 7th-round of their 1974 meeting.
Briscoe challenged for the middleweight title on three occasions: being out-pointed over 15 by Monzon in his first shot, which came in 1972 (Monzon being a fighter he had previously held to a non-title fight draw), being halted by Valdez in 1974 and finally, losing a 15-round decision to Valdez in a 1977 return fight. Briscoe was able to capture and defend the NABF belt though.
Most of Briscoe’s fights took place at the legendary Philadelphia Spectrum, although the teak-tough fighter who scored 53 KO’s, did fight in venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York and The Blue Horizon in Philly. Briscoe also boxed abroad, in countries such as Argentina, France and Italy. Basically apart from win the world crown, he did it all!
It was in the summer of 1978, when aged 35, that Briscoe met perhaps the single greatest middleweight, in Hagler. Just 24 at the time, Marvelous was 40-2-1 (to Briscoe’s 60-16-5). In the end, youth told over experience and Hagler won on points, unanimously, over ten. Benny would fight a further 13 times, retiring in December of 1982 with an amazing, 66-24-5(53) ledger.
There have been tough fighters who have emerged since Briscoe and we have battle hardened warriors on the scene today but only a few rank up there with this particular middleweight great. How special might a Dream Fight between he and the guy known as GGG have been!