Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with former world light-heavyweight champion Leslie Stewart who talked all things past and present boxing.
Leslie Stewart (31-12-20KO) was known as “Laventille Tiger”, an apt nickname for the fighter.
Stewart who turned professional in 1982, soon challenged for the vacant WBA Light-Heavyweight title in 1986 against Marvin Johnson.
But Stewart’s first shot at a title came to a premature ending when he was stopped by Johnson due to cuts in the 7th round.
The tough and durable man from Trinidad and Tobago would dust himself off afterwards however, and clock up 5 wins against the likes of Fulgencio Obelmejias and Uriah Grant.
Before rematching Johnson in 1987, Stewart proved his worth and then went on to dominate Johnson with Johnson’s corner having seen enough and stopped the fight after 8 one sided rounds.
Unfortunately Stewart would lose the belt in his very first defense against Virgil Hill, a fight Stewart told me:
“I was pressurised into taking the fight by my management team at the time because of a request from the giant TV network ABC.”
In 1988 Stewart would once again challenge for a title, this time the WBC Light Heavyweight belt against Donny Lalonde, but once more would lose via TKO.
Stewart would go on to beat Phil Brown to secure a 3rd title shot against the dangerous Michael Moorer at the Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA for the WBO World Light Heavyweight Title in May 1989 but was unable to capture the title.
Stewart retired from boxing in 2000.
Any boxing fan who witnessed Stewart capturing the title in 1987 and remembers his reaction and the post-fight celebrations in side the ring, can’t help but smile at one of life and boxing’s good guys’ moment in the port of Spain’s sunshine.
Talking to Leslie at St Peters ABC in South London recently, the club where it all started for him when he was part of the British boys team, you can still hear his passion for the sport when he talks about boxing.
I asked the former light-heavyweight champion his views on the upcoming November bout between current WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and American Andre Ward -to which he replied:
“Gav that’s a tough fight. Ward is a great technical boxer with great ring awareness and excellent punch selection, but Kovalev is extremely underrated and is a skilled fighter with frightening power. It’s a great fight and a real 50/50 matchup. It’s too close to call.”
Indeed, it’s a view shared by many boxing expects writers and fans alike.
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