By Jim Amato

Back in the early 1970′s northeast Ohio had three world-class light heavyweight contenders campaigning for a world title shot. Ray Anderson of Akron would be the one who was fortunate enough to receive a shot at the brass ring. The other two, John Griffin and Billy Wagner of Cleveland fell short of their title fight dreams but they did wage two memorable wars against each other.

Ray Anderson was born in 1944 and began his professional career in 1965. Ray showed early promise as he won his first fourteen bouts before losing by knockout to also unbeaten Willie McMillan in his Madison Square Garden debut. Ray would regroup to win his next sixteen bouts. Among his victims were respected boxers such as Amos Johnson, Hubert Hilton, Marion Conner, Frank Niblett and Karl Zurheide. Then on December 10, 1969 Ray faced a 5-0 heavyweight named Ted Gullick. Outweighed by twenty pounds Anderson took an early lead but the bigger Gullick who was a good puncher wore Ray down and stopped him in round nine. Two fights later Anderson drew with tough Allen Thomas. Then disaster struck in the form of the devil. Charlie ” The Devil ” Green that is. The ever dangerous Green flattened Ray in 1:36 of the first round and his once bright star was diminishing rapidly.

Trying to get back in to the thick of the title picture, Ray met the talented John Griffin in Norton, Ohio. Griffin won a close ten rounder. The two squared off again five weeks later in Akron and again Griffin outscored Anderson. One month later Griffin would lose to the rugged Hal ” TNT ” Carroll. Then Anderson was matched with Hal Carroll in Ashland, Ohio. I grew up in Cleveland but Ashland, Ohio is my adopted hometown. I’ve lived in Ashland since 1977 but I had no idea this bout ever took place here. With the help of the Ashland Public Library’s Micro Film Department I was able to gather the newspaper information and account of this bout. The Anderson-Carroll match was the headline bout of a live card at the Ashland College Physical Education Center on November 18th, 1970. It preceded the closed circuit telecast of the George Foreman-Boone Kirkman bout from Madison Square Garden and then to Detroit for the world heavyweight title bout between titleholder Joe Frazier and light heavyweight champion Bob Foster. Wooster, Ohio native and All Star Major League pitcher Dean Chance was the promoter. Ray Anderson was said to have sparred over 400 rounds with Joe Frazier up to this point in his career. Ray won a unanimous decision over the game Carroll while Foreman mugged Boone Kirkman in two rounds. Frazier ended the night by nearly decapitating Foster in round two. Still when Foster next defended the 175 pound title, Hal Carroll would be his opponent. Foster took Hal out in round four to retain his crown. Next up would be Ray Anderson.

On April 24, 1971 Bob Foster won a lopsided fifteen round decision over Ray Anderson to retain his championship. The televised bout was painfully dull even though Ray may have won a moral victory by going the distance with the vicious punching Foster. Anderson’s career seemed to nose dive after the loss to Foster but every now and then he would post a surprise victory. In 1972 he won a decision over the clever Gregorio Peralta. In 1973 he was beaten in eight rounds by the red hot Jorge Ahumada. Ray then came back to draw with Jimmy Dupree. In 1974 he was stopped in two rounds by future champion Victor Galindez .Then Ray lost a decision to the streaking James Scott. Surprisingly in 1975 Anderson upset Ahumada over ten rounds.

Ray would go on to lose to three future champions, Miguel Cuello, Marvin Johnson and Mike Rossman. Finally in 1977 Ray decided to hang them up. He retired with a very respectable sixty bout career. He was 36-19-5 and met top shelf opposition throughout most of his career.

NOTE; Former middleweight contender Doyle Baird of Akron jumped up in weight to take on W.B.A. light heavyweight title claimant Vincente Rondon. That bout took place on December 15, 1971. Rondon halted Doyle in round eight.

Jim Amato

Filed under: Boxing


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