Kaylor vs Christie: Fireworks at Wembley
By Simon Graham
Terry Lawless said of the build up to the Kaylor v Christie fight:
“I’ve seen a lot of play-acting before fights, but I’ve never seen anything as real as this.”
To those of you outside the all British domestic match up between Mark Kaylor and Errol Christie may not mean as much as to those who were there, those that were privy to the build up and the eventual fight between these two for the British middleweight title eliminator at Wembley Arena on November 5th 1985 .
Christie was a multi-National Amateur champion equipped with superb skills and boxing ability, after turning pro in 1982 he racked up a string of victories most of which ended in early stoppages, promoted as the British Sugar Ray, Christie had the British public admiring his talent and a map to world domination laid at his feet.
Kaylor himself had a superb amateur career culminating in an Olympic call up to the 1980 games in Moscow losing in the quarter finals on a split decision, he turned pro that same year winning 24 straight fights knocking out Roy Gumbs to win the British/Commonwealth middleweight Title.
Kaylor would lose that title to Tony Sibson in 1984 but had the chance to win it back in 1985 if he could get past Christie the fast-rising star.
80s Britain was in turmoil rife with violent political confrontations its sport tarnished by the height of football violence and racial fuelled tension with riots in Birmingham London and Liverpool, the fight itself was hyped to the maximum out on the streets North v South, Black v White, the old pro v the young upstart.
The pre-fight brawl live on TV only added to the hype causing Wembley Stadium to ban pre-fight alcoholic drinks and covert security employed to infiltrate and monitor the sell-out crowd looking for signs of trouble. Wembley was buzzing in anticipation but amongst the chaos and frenzy leading up to the fight the tension between the two sets of fans was palpable right up to the opening bell the smell of hate and was in the air.
In April 1985 Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns lit up the world of boxing with the first round of their memorable encounter, round one of Kaylor vs Christie 7 months later was equally exciting, from the opening bell both boxers set off at a pulsating pace with bad intentions on their minds.
Within 30 seconds Christie hit the deck from a Kaylor right hand clearly dazed and cut he managed to hang on smothering Kaylor to regain his senses before dropping him with a right hand of his own to even up the score, the fight had kicked off with a bang along with the fireworks in the crowd.
The pace carried on through to round 2 and into 3 as both boxers tried to stamp their authority on the bout, Kaylor working inside with Christie working behind his jab once again dropping Kaylor with a stunningly quick one two combination. Kaylor would get up and would rally back to rock Christie toward the end of the 3rd round.
The next 4 rounds Kaylor would rely on the strategy to march Christie down, over power him on the inside and tee off with left hook, and right-hand leads, limiting his opponents’ options, Christie dominant from distance with superior skills but couldn’t compete with Kaylor’s relentless marauding style and began to tire taking heavy shots toward the end of the 7th round.
Christie clearly getting tired and out fought, desperately trying to establish his jab came out for the 8th round knowing the fight was slipping away but one punch could sway it his way however, it would be Kaylor that would end the fight emphatically.
He waited for the Christie jab counterpunching with a perfectly timed right hand lead followed by a left hook sending his arch-enemy sprawling to the canvas, Christie on his knees shuffled to the corner pulling himself to his feet but it was all over as a jubilant Kaylor jumped on the ropes to celebrate the referee counted Christie out.
In a fight that split a nation neither fighter got to fight for the British title, however, both will be remembered for giving us one of the best British fights ever.