Colin Jones

Colin Jones (b. 1959) will go down in history as one of the finest British boxers never to have won a world crown, the Gorseinon welterweight coming up just short in three brave shots at the title.

Jones is renowned for the knock-out power he carried in both fists, a talent that made him a threat at any level of the game, but he was also an outstanding boxer.

At the 1976 Montreal Olympics the then-19-year-old grave digger became the youngest boxer ever to represent Britain at the Games.

The Swansea man turned professional the following year, joining Eddie Thomas‘s Merthyr stable of fighters where he would prove a worthy successor to the likes of Howard Winstone and Ken Buchanan.

After starting his career with 12 wins, Jones secured the fight that really established his name, a shot at Kirkland Laing’s British title.

Known as ‘the Gifted One’, Laing’s stunning boxing skills would take him as far as a victory over the great Roberto Duran, and for nine rounds he was in total control of the Jones fight.

But it was a classic encounter between boxer and puncher, and in the ninth the Welshman connected with a right to the jaw that sent Laing’s gumshield flying back into the bleachers.

Jones followed it up with a clinical finishing salvo that left Laing out on his feet, leaving a new 21-year-old British champion.

Five more wins followed for Jones, amongst them a victory over Mark Harris that saw him claim the Commonwealth crown.

A rematch was arranged with Laing at the Royal Albert Hall, a fight that would prove a carbon-copy of the first encounter.

Laing rattled up a big points lead, but Jones relentlessly stalked his prey throughout and again caught up with him in the ninth, a devastating left hook putting the challenger out for the count.

The world crown was the next target, and the path opened up when Sugar Ray Leonard vacated the WBC title.

Jones would have to do it the hard way, though, travelling to Reno to face ‘Ice Man’ Milton McCrory on 19 March, 1983.

America had marked the rising Detroit star as Leonard’s natural successor and Jones was a big underdog, but he immediately took the fight to his opponent.

“That was the best I ever fought and the best I ever felt,” said Jones.

“I could have fought anyone in the world that night, and the tremendous backing from so many Welsh fans – most of them coal miners – gave me great heart.

“I kept plugging away, but credit to McCrory, he took some great shots and just kept going to build up a bit of a lead.

“Round nine was always a favourite of mine in every fight, so I raised it there and caught him with some superb shots.

“I thought it was going to be my day, but he survived and came out fighting in the 10th like a new man.

“I didn’t know what to expect at the end, but I knew that a draw was a great decision for us, I knew we could come back and have a re-run.”

The Welshman would have to return to Nevada for the rematch five months later, the bout set for the Dunes Hotel, Las Vegas on 13 August.

He spent four weeks preparing in Vegas, but the midday heat in a ring set up in the Dunes parking lot was withering.

Jones’s father Raymond, who was working as a commentator for BBC Wales, arrived at ringside from his son’s changing room and badly burnt his mouth on the lip microphone that had been out in the blazing sun!

His son’s start to the afternoon was little better.

“I always liked to feel my way into a fight and to smoulder for the first few rounds,” said Jones.

“But when I was doing that in the first he clipped me with a fantastic left hook after feinting the jab – and I was down.

“Realising I was behind on points I thought that I’d better get flowing a bit quicker, so I kicked in the seventh round instead of the ninth.

“It was a great round for me, but again credit to McCrory, he survived the storm.

Dunes Hotel, Las vegas (Flickr: Roadsidepictures)

Dunes Hotel, Las vegas (Flickr: Roadsidepictures)

“I then managed an exceptional round nine and – as far as I was concerned – he was gone.

“I came out for the 10th ready to fire on all cylinders, only to be astounded that he’d recovered again and was able to fight as he did.”

The Welshman’s efforts were not enough to claim the title, though, as he lost a controversial split decision.

“It would sound like sour grapes for me to say I thought I won – I didn’t, and that’s it,” said Jones.

“I’d never lost any title fight I’d contested since the age of 11, so to hear the negative verdict for the first time was a bitter pill to swallow.”

Swansea’s finest would never again reach such heights of performance and he would fight just three more times.

One of those was another world title shot, though, against champion Don Curry in Birmingham in 1985.

The undefeated Curry was then regarded as one of the leading pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He would later destroy McCrory in two rounds, before falling to a stunning upset defeat against Britain’s Lloyd Honeyghan.

At this stage of their careers Jones was no match for Curry, though.

The Lone Star Cobra’s accurate punching ripped apart the challenger’s thin skin in four brutal rounds before the bout was stopped.

Jones never fought again, but went on to become a successful and highly respected amateur coach for Wales.

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4 Responses to Colin Jones

  1. Daniel Abrahams December 11, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

    I never really liked boxing, but I clearly remember really loving this fella, he had guts, and heart and I was a proud young English lad supporting this Welsh guy nobody had heard of.
    My mum met him once and asked for an autograph from him, he asked if I liked boxing and my mum said: ‘no, he just likes you.” He signed the card and a put a smiling face on it. I treasured it for years and still clearly remember those fights, especially the Vegas one, where he came so close.

    So lovely to see this video and to hear the great man talking, he still seems like a true gentleman and i can honestly say I still proudly tell people about him and how much I was on his side.

  2. John O'S April 6, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

    Agree completely with Daniel. I’m two years older than Colin and I remember so clearly getting up during the night back in 1983 to watch the McCrory fight and rooting for this brave young fella who epitomised those gutsy British boxers we used to produce. I’m also a proud Englishman who was shouting at the telly in support of Gorseinon’s finest. Great memories, of a time when boxing really was a great sport with so many exceptional names coming through the ranks of the sub-heavyweight categories.

  3. wayne April 14, 2017 at 5:36 am #

    I agree a brave man could puck with ever had if you watch him he never fought backwards I always remember the current fight corner man check split nose right on the ridge with bone showing brave man legend shame people don’t talk about him as much

  4. wayne April 14, 2017 at 5:38 am #

    Sorry not the current fight the Don curry fight

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