Bunce Diary: An overlooked British title classic

In 1998, Burton’s Neville Brown made headlines as he defended his British middleweight title in Bristol. He was the last fighter from Burton-on-Trent to gain attention in the boxing world.

Brown aimed to match Len Harvey’s record of six British middleweight defences in his bout against local favorite Glenn Catley. Achieving six defences was quite a feat, even in the old days of boxing.

Len Harvey set the record in 1932, including a controversial ‘colour bar’ defence against Len Johnson. Harvey later lost the British middleweight title in 1933 but went on to win the British light-heavyweight and heavyweight titles in the same year. Before Marvel comics and Rocky movies, there were fighters like Len Harvey, Fabio Wardley, and Frazer Clarke.

Despite Len Harvey’s 146 fights in a 22-year career, both Brown and Catley showed signs of wear and tear from their experiences in the ring. By the time they faced each other, they had a combined total of 59 knockdowns in 58 fights. Both had been through tough battles recently, with Brown suffering losses and knockdowns and Catley being stopped in his previous fight.

Each boxer had skilled trainers in their corners; Brendan Ingle for Brown and Chris Sanigar for Catley. Both trainers played crucial roles in shaping their fighters and their strategies. Ingle had orchestrated Brown’s title win against Frank Grant, while Sanigar was known for motivating Catley on big fight nights.

The fight between Catley and Brown was intense, filled with excitement, determination, and physicality. The match was a classic Nineties British title bout, packed with action and controversial moments.

After eight rounds, Ingle decided to stop the fight as Brown had suffered a severe injury to his left eye, resulting in loss of vision. Brown accepted the decision gracefully, acknowledging the importance of safety in boxing.

Both boxers fought with passion and determination, with Catley eventually emerging victorious. Despite the intense battle and accusations of dirty fighting, both fighters showed respect for each other after the match.

Following the fight, Catley went on to have a successful boxing career, winning the WBC super-middleweight title. Brown, though overlooked by many, also had his share of memorable fights and championship nights before retiring from the sport.

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