Joe Brown was a superlative boxer-puncher who reigned six years and made 11 successful defences of his undisputed crown. Though a stylish boxer, with a decent dig, Brown took 10 years to reach the pinnacle of success.
He turned pro in 1946 and, in the early days, Brown did not look like he would reach the summit of his chosen profession. He was kayoed in three by featherweight great Sandy Saddler; in seven by future lightweight challenger George Araujo and in four by future welter kingpin Johnny Bratton.
Joe also lost decisions to the superlative Freddie Dawson (a fantastic fighter who could beat everyone but the supreme Ike Williams and who could show a trick or two to Sugar Mosley!) and ranked contenders John L Davis, Tommy Campbell and Arthur Persley.
Brown showed his future talent with two decisions out of three over future welter champ Virgil Atkins, a one round and ninth round kayo over former conquerors Tommy Campbell and Arthur Persley respectively before facing and outpointing reigning champ Wallace “Bud” Smith in a non-title bout. This victory led to a straight rematch for the world crown where Brown floored and outpointed Smith.
Smith got a quick rematch, but was outclassed and badly pummelled for a 11th round loss. Cuban Orlando Zulueta was up next He had held Brown to a draw three years previously, and fought valiantly, but the champion’s pinpoint combinations brought an emphatic 15th round stoppage.
Joe then had three non-title bouts, one of them being a draw with the tough Joey Lopes, whogot his title shot, but was hammered into a 11th round loss. Two non-title victories followed before an eight round kayo over the classy Ralph Dupas which set-up a meeting with Kenny Lane.
Lane was a quality foe, a southpaw to boot, who held a points win over future great Carlos Ortiz. Lane-Brown turned out to a pulsating contest with the champion’s slicker punching winning a close decision. A non-title fight quickly followed against the ranked Johnny Busso.
Busso was a fast clever stylist who was the first man to beat Carlos Ortiz and he used his boxing skills to good effect taking a decision over the champ. Brown granted Busso a title match and again showed his quality by triumphing over his former conqueror by clear 15th round decision.
Paulo Rosi was butchered in nine before three non-title bouts, one them a draw with unknown Joey Parks, before stopping Englishman Dave Charnley on cuts in six and gaining revenge over Parks in another non-title bout. Brown got himself stopped on cuts in six by Ray Portilla in a non-title contest, but quickly came back with two easy non-title kayos before outpointing the durable Cisco Andrade over 15 rounds. A quick stoppage in Milan brought a 10-round decision loss to Giordano Campari before another win over Joey Parks.
Charnley was granted a rematch for world crown in London. He was one of the finest lightweights ever produced by Great Britain and, in my opinion, second only to the brilliant Ken Buchanan. Brown took a very controversial decision, still contested by Charnley and most British writers, in one of the greatest lightweight fights of all time. A further 15 round win in the Philippines came next against local hero Bert Somodio before a big fight against rising star Carlos Oritz.
Ortiz had held the junior-welter crown twice previously, but was really a lightweight who had wins over top fighters like Busso, Lane (twice), big punching Len Matthews and Dave Charnley to earn this title bout. Ortiz took the crown by outboxing the slower champion, a month shy of his 36th birthday, over 15 dreary rounds. Ortiz would go on to be a dominant champion and is considered one of the great lightweights of all-time.
Brown was next outpointed by Luis Molina and two fights later kayoed in six by old foe Dave Charnley, which finished Brown’s career at the top. Still he carried on for another eight years, fighting in far-flung places like Mozambique, Finland, Jamaica a South Africa. He fought future champs Chango Carmona, Carlos Hernandez, Bruno Arcari and Nicolino Loche and lost to them all.
Joe Brown finally called his marathon career to a halt in 1970 with a 104-44-13 (47) record.
By Joe Queijo