'The Last Great Contenders' - A New Book Profiling Heavyweight Boxers of the 1970s

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“The Last Great Contenders,” written by Richard Poche, is an encyclopedic collection of contenders from the heavyweight division in the 1970s. “I’ve always had a fondness for that time period in boxing history,” Poche said. “It was a lot of fun to research these fighters.” The book contains profiles of over 50 boxers who fought during what many consider the most competitive era in boxing history.

Book cover for "The Last Great Contenders"

“The Last Great Contenders,” written by Richard Poche, is an encyclopedic collection of contenders from the heavyweight division in the 1970s.

“The Last Great Contenders,” written by Richard Poche, is an encyclopedic collection of contenders from the heavyweight division in the 1970s.

“I’ve always had a fondness for that time period in boxing history,” Poche said. “It was a lot of fun to research these fighters.”

The book contains profiles of over 50 boxers who fought during what many consider the most competitive era in boxing history.

“I didn’t include any profiles of the champions of that time period; Ali, Foreman, Frazier, or Holmes,” said Poche. “Enough has been written about them so it wouldn’t be entertaining for someone to read rehashed material. I wanted to write about the contenders who were on the cusp of making it to the big time. There were a handful of fighters who were ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ that were only one punch away.”

The book showcases bio pieces and promo pictures of boxers that have been long forgotten.

“Remember that cable t.v. was a rare luxury back then,” Poche continued. “A lot of these boxers had to establish a local following as not everyone could be showcased on network television. Guys like Boone Kirkman, Duane Bobick and “Florida” Al Jones aren’t remembered by the casual boxing fan of today. But back in the 1970s they were huge local heroes and drew very large crowds.”

Present day heavyweight championship fights now take place almost exclusively overseas. “The Last Great Contenders” celebrates an age where that would be unthinkable.

“Boxing fans in the seventies would have difficulty believing a future with Europeans being the dominant force,” Poche adds. “Euro fighters were stepping stones back in the day. They’ve caught up to us.”

The following fighters are profiled in “The Last Great Contenders”
Pedro Agosto – Puerto Rican Champion
Billy Aird – Clubfighter out of the UK
Rahman Ali - Brother of Muhammad Ali
Ibar Arrington - Steel chinned ex-Navy champion
Jody Ballard - Sparring partner of the greats
Duane Bobick - The most unduly criticized fighter of the era
Rodney Bobick - Sparring partner for Ali, died in car accident
Oscar Bonavena – The decade’s answer to Ricardo Mayorga
Johnny Boudreaux – Fleet footed fighter out of Texas
Joe Bugner – Big Hungarian fought Ali and Frazier back to back
George Chuvalo – Granite jawed Canadian was never knocked down
Henry Clark – San Francisco heavyweight who was California champion
Dino Denis - Popular Massachusetts stick and mover
Tony Doyle - Was considered Utah’s best boxing prospect
Jim Lee Elder - Up and coming slugger who died from a brain tumor
Lou Esa - Giant former bouncer out of Florida
Mac Foster - Ex Marine who won 24 straight by knockout
Jose Luis Garcia - Venezuelan slickster who ate himself out of contention
Terry Hinke - Heavy left hooker who was Foreman’s sparring partner
Morris Jackson – Boxer/puncher out of Nebraska
Scrap Iron Johnson – The ultimate trial horse
Florida Al Jones - Giant Miami prospect hampered by a hand injury
Leroy Jones - Good boxer forced to retire because of detached retina
Boone Kirkman -Popular draw out of Washington state
Scott Ledoux - Minnesota brawler who always gave his best
Alvin Blue Lewis - Detroit tough guy
Pedro Lovell - Popular Argentinian who fought out of L.A.
Ron Lyle - Denver slugger who gave Foreman hell
Danny McAlinden - Aggressive Irish brawler
Humphrey McBride - The decade’s answer to Butterbean
Jeff Merritt - Brutal left hooker who was knocked out by drugs
Larry Middleton - Army champ who played spoiler
Fili Moala - Power punching Tongan
Randy Neumann – Renaissance minded boxer who was a writer and model
Wendell Newton - Bahamian sparring partner for the champs
Ken Norton - Always gave Ali fits, the premier contender of the decade
Jack O’Halloran – Giant (6’6”) slugger who suffered from a pituitary illness
Jerry Quarry - One of the most popular fighters of the era
Charlie Reno - Crafty but overweight clubfighter
Young Sanford - Chicago journeyman managed by Redd Foxx
Mike Schutte – Hard hitting South African they called “Tank”
Earnie Shavers - Arguably the hardest hitting heavyweight of all time
Mircea Simon - Romanian defector had brief pro career
Howard Smith - One of the best out of Los Angeles
Ron Stander - Engaged in gore fests with Frazier and Norton
Paul Sykes - Psychotic jailbird out of Britain
Mani Vaka - Free swinging Polynesian
Stan Ward - Powerfully built Sacramento heavyweight
Chuck Wepner - No fighter shed more blood
Roy Williams - A rough character out of Philly
Jimmy Young - Fought brawn with brains

“The Last Great Contenders” retails for $19.95 and is available at the Poche Pictures website at http://www.pochepictures.com/lastgreatcontenders.html

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