By Jim Amato

Although Ray Anderson and Doyle Baird received world title shots and Billy Wagner came within one fight of garnering one, the state’s best light-heavyweight may have been overlooked. John Griffin, who fought out of Cleveland holds a pair of wins over both Anderson and Wagner. John may have been too good for his own good.

He turned pro in 1967 and by 1969 he had defeated established veterans Charlie Polite and Eddie Vick. John had trouble getting bouts with light-heavyweights outside the Cleveland-Akron area so occasionally he was forced to take on heavyweights.

John received his first big break in March 25, 1970, when he met the talented Eddie “Bossman” Jones in Las Vegas. The perennial contender Jones won a ten round decision. John returned to the area and posted back to back verdicts over the touted Ray Anderson. John caught another break when he was matched with rugged Hal Carroll. Again John lost a ten rounder.

1971 saw Griffin win his first four bouts including a decision over fellow Clevelander Billy Wagner and an upset points verdict over huge heavyweight Jack O’Halloran. On July 11, 1971, John met W.B.A. light-heavyweight champion Vincente Rondon in a non-title match and lost a decision. In his next bout he met heavyweight boxing contender Jose Luis Garcia. The hard punching Garcia stopped John in the seventh round. John returned to Cleveland to meet another heavyweight, Vic Brown who also halted John in seven.

1972 was a good comeback year for Griffin as he knocked out arch rival Billy Wagner in the twelfth round of their rematch. John then outpointed the colorful Californian, Ray “Windmill” White. He closed out the year with a decision win over Sam McGill. In 1973 John was halted by crafty Gregorio Peralta in five. In 1974 John dropped a ten round duke to Denmark’s Tom Bogs.

On February 15, 1975, John got one more chance at the brass ring. He again met the World Boxing Association champion in a non-title bout except this time the titleholder was the great Victor Galindez. Griffin was stopped in the sixth round and his tenure as a world class fighter ended.

Jim Amato

Filed under: Boxing

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