By Jim Amato

Although he won only one more fight then he lost in his career Tom “The Bomb” Bethea was once ranked among the world’s leading middleweights and light heavyweights. Bethea turned pro in 1967 and won nine of his first eleven bouts. He then suffered a KO loss to Leon Washington. Tom Bethea was always matched tough throughout his career. He next lost decisions to future middleweight king Carlos Monzon and former welterweight champ Luis Rodriguez.

   On March 13, 1970 Bethea was paired up with reigning middleweight titleholder Nino Benvenuti in a non-title fight. The battle took place in Australia. Whether Nino was in top shape is debatable. The fact is that Bethea dished out quite a body beating to Benvenuti forcing Nino to quit. It was a stunning upset and a rematch with the title on the line was immediate. This time Nino boxed smartly and was well ahead when he halted Bethea in the eighth round.

   From this point on Bethea lost as many as he would win but he faced nothing but first-rate opposition. He lost to Bennie Briscoe, Jean Claude Bouttier, Billy Douglas and Ralph Palladin. Bethea then moved up to light heavyweight. He suffered defeats at the hands of Bobby Cassidy and Eddie “Bossman” Jones but he did beat the highly regarded Lonnie Bennett. In a ten fight streak between 1974 – 1976 Tom went 8-0-2. He bested Domenico Adinolfi, Tom Bogs and Douglas in a return. Bethea was now ranked among the world’s best at 175 pounds. Then came a close decision loss to Mike Quarry. Losses to Marvin Johnson, Michael Spinks and Marvin Camel would follow before Tom retired.

   Although his 46 bout record stands at 22-21-3, this is clearly not reflective of the quality opponents he faced. Bethea met six world champions and eight others who attempted to win a title in his very respectable career.

                                                                                                                                                                   Jim Amato

Filed under: Boxing


Readers Comments (1)

  1. EZ E

    Met “The Bomb” when he was at the Telestar Gym. Was a cool guy & better that what his record reflects. Some of his sparring sessions against hyped up prospect told us much about how far the “prima donnas” were actually going to get.

     

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