By Jim Amato

No doubt the most well known modern day heavyweight from Canada is George Chuvalo. For a while Lennox Lewis claimed Canada as his home. Trevor Berbick made his mark as did Razor Ruddock. Still George is #1. People tend to forget that Chuvalo lost two out of three fights to his equally rugged countryman Robert Cleroux. “Big Bob” was once one fight away from a title shot. An untimely upset loss ended that dream.

Cleroux was born on February 23,1968. He joined the punch for pay ranks in  1957 after winning the Montreal Golden Gloves title in 1956. At 6’1” and  weighing over 200 pounds he was a fairly big heavyweight in his era. He won  twelve of his first thirteen contests. Only a draw with Eddie Vick stained his  record. He beat Eddie in a return go. Vick would go on to fight the likes of  Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson.Chuck Wepner,Jeff Merritt and Bob Foster twice during  his career. Bob invaded New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1959 and suffered  his first loss. An eight round decision to veteran Buddy Turman.

Cleroux  would regroup to win nine in a row including a decision over Willie Besmanoff  and a five round kayo against Roy “Cut-N-Shoot” Harris. In 1960 he won a close  and hard fought split decision over Chuvalo to capture the Canadian crown. Later  in the year he would drop a twelve round verdict to George losing the title. In  between those two battles Bob halted Turman in two rounds to gain a measure of  revenge.

1961 was a good year for Robert as he stopped Harold Carter,Harris again and  the hard hitting Alex Miteff. He then won another split decision over Chuvalo to  recapture the Canadian heavyweight championship.. He defended that title by  knockout over Cecil Gray and then stopped rugged George Logan in seven. Then Bob  hit a rough patch dropping ten rounders to the highly rated Zora Folley and  tough Mike DeJohn. He then won a close points call against Tom McNeely. Cleroux  followed that with four straight knockout victories and was again paired with  the clever Folley. Zora clearly outboxed Cleroux and Bob stepped away from the  ring for five years.

When Cleroux returned in 1968 he quickly won five straight bouts. He then  outduked the still dangerous Cleveland Williams to re-establish himself as a  contender for world honors. In 1969 he whipped Charlie Chase twice and Bob  Felstein. It was now rumored that Bob was going to challenge Jimmy Ellis for the  World Boxing Association version of the heavyweight title. In July he met Billy Joiner in a tune up  bout. Joiner a former Ohio standout amateur boxer and capable professional  fighter upset the apple cart by winning a ten round split decision. With this  defeat Cleroux’s hopes for a title shot were dashed and he retired for good.

In 55 fights Bob posted a very respectable 48-6-1 record. He won 38 by  knockout and he was never stopped.

Jim Amato

Filed under: Boxing

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