How long was Frank Bruno world heavyweight champion?
On September 2, 1995, Franklin ‘Frank’ Bruno achieved his oft-stated ambition of becoming heavyweight champion of the world, defeating reigning World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Oliver McCall by unanimous decision at Wembley Stadium, London. Bruno had previously tried, and failed, to win a world heavyweight title, being knocked out by Tim Witherspoon in 1986 and stopped by Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis in 1989 amd 1993, respectively.
Indeed, it was Lewis that McCall had defeated, by technical knockout, at Wembley Arena, London the previous September to win the WBC title. He had subsequently won a surprisingly close, but unanimous, decision against 45-year-old Larry Holmes at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas on his first defence of the title in April, 1995. After the first ten rounds of the match billed as ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Bruno was clearly ahead on points and withstood a final, desperate onslaught from McCall to win 117-111, 117-1, 115-113.
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For all his muscularity and punching power, Bruno was a limited fighter at the highest level and his limitations were ruthlessly exposed in his first, mandatory defence of the WBC World Heavyweight Championship at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Paradise, Nevada on March16, 1996. Bruno once again faced Tyson, who had returned to professional boxing the previous August after serving three years in prison, and lasted just three rounds. In truth, Bruno offered very little and, less than a minute into the third round, succumbed to a flurry of unanswered punches that sent him crashing into the ropes, where the referee stopped the fight. His reign as WBC World Heavyweight Champion had lasted 195 days, or six months and two weeks.
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