We are hearing word that one of the legendary competitors of the Beltway Boxing scene has passed away.
Former heavyweight contender Larry Middleton died this morning. No word on the cause of death.
Mr. Middleton boxed out of the famous Mack Lewis Gym in Baltimore and was a pro from 1965-1978. After going 1-0-1 in his first three bouts, Middleton reeled off 19 straight wins including a big 10-round unanimous decision victory over fellow contender Joe Bugner on November 24, 1971 in Nottinghamshire, England.
Middleton would go on to face some legendary names in the heavyweight division including Jerry Quarry (pictured in the top picture on the right, arm wrestling Middleton), Ron Lyle (twice), Jimmy Ellis, Oscar Bonavena, Duane Bobick and Scott LeDoux. While Middleton was a top 10 heavyweight, losses to this impressive type of competition in an extremely competitive division would keep him from gaining a world title shot.
Middleton's biggest bout may have been his contest against former world champ Ken Norton on July 10, 1976 in San Diego, CA. This could have been called the "Battle of the Jawbreakers" as Middleton broke Bugner's jaw in his win and Norton broke Muhammad Ali's jaw in 1973. Middleton would lose by a tenth-round TKO.
Middleton would finish his career in 1978 with a record of 23-10-2, 14 KO's. In later years, Middleton worked with young people training boxers. I had the opportunity to meet him in the mid-90's as he made an appearance at a boxing card at the Teamster's Hall in Baltimore. He was very gracious with me and the rest of the Boxing Spotlight crew during our TV taping.
Our deepest condolences to Mr. Middleton's family and those in the Baltimore Boxing community who were touched by his presence. Funeral arrangements are forthcoming.
I received this testimony on Middleton from UMAR Boxing Gym founder Marvin McDowell:
"Larry was a outstanding boxing trainer /person/father figure he taught me so much about boxing and life I'm so glad that I had him in my life he was one of the reasons I started UMAR Boxing Program to help the children liked he helped me .He will be missed in the world boxing community."