O'Grady - Page 2
After the Lopez bout, O’Grady, who had been competing as a featherweight, moved up a step to the lightweight division. Proof that “dad” hadn’t learned much, if anything, from the debacle against Danny Lopez, Sean O’Grady spent the rest of 1976, all of 1977, and all of 1978 fighting only slightly better opposition. Over the course of almost three years, the Bubblegum Kid would run off another “impressive” win streak. This time O’Grady won 40 straight fights, 37 by knockout, reestablishing himself as a top contender, despite his lack of strong competition. O’Grady’s opponents over that 40-bout streak managed to compile a record of 486-459-32. Not the kind of record that screams “candidate for the Boxing Hall of Fame”.
To be fair, during the new win streak, O’Grady did have some decent wins against veteran Earl Large, tough Davey Vasquez, Eddie Freeman, Shig Fukuyama, Al Franklin, rugged Arturo Leon, and Marion Thomas; all of whom, if not big names, certainly qualify as experienced opponents and represented legitimate tests.
Unfortunately, for every Vasquez and Leon, there were three guys like 6-26-1 Harvey Wilson, 2-7-0 Roberto Perez, and 0-5-0 Juan Garcia on the Kid’s ledger. Nevertheless, O’Grady made enough progress that going into 1980 and turning 21 heightened expectations (at least by dad Pat O’Grady). As if to prove that he had made a significant leap, ability and experience-wise, Sean opened the year with nice wins over Scotty Foreman, undefeated Gonzalo Montellano (25-0-1) and a few softer touches in between.
Once again, O’Grady moved into title fight consideration, and he found a willing opponent in Scotland veteran Jim Watt, holder of the WBC lightweight crown. Again, to his credit, O’Grady ventured into the lion’s den by taking on Watt in the champion’s backyard. Unfortunately, O’Grady’s first title fight turned out to be a highly controversial loss directly attributed to a terrible gash on O’Grady’s forehead that bled profusely and impaired his vision. In addition to the forehead injury, O’Grady suffered cuts around his eye. Most of the damage was the result of head butts, as the fighters were more than willing to fight on the inside.
The irony of the stoppage loss suffered by O’Grady came shortly after O’Grady had inflicted a bad cut on the side of Watt’s left eye, to go along with a constant bloody nose and smaller cuts over both of Watt’s eyes. The major cut on the side of Watt’s eye prompted the ringside doctor to examine Watt; but despite the bleeding, the doctor allowed the fight to go on.
After the Lopez bout, O’Grady, who had been competing as a featherweight, moved up a step to the lightweight division. Proof that “dad” hadn’t learned much, if anything, from the debacle against Danny Lopez, Sean O’Grady spent the rest of 1976, all of 1977, and all of 1978 fighting only slightly better opposition. Over
Then in the 12th round of what should have been a very close bout on the scorecards, with O’Grady landing jabs and power shots and fighting on even ground with the champion, the fight was stopped. The gutsy Bubblegum kid was fighting blind from his forehead wound and starting to take a good deal of punishment. The scoring at the time of the stoppage seemed a bit biased suggesting a home town bias. England’s Harry Gibbs had the fight at 108-104, French judge Raymond Baldeyrou also scored it 108-104, and the United States Arthur Mercante saw the bout close at 104-103. All the scores were in favor of Watt.
Of note, more than one boxing pundit claimed that Watt’s best weapon throughout the fight was his head, with some of the clashes clearly intentional. Credit both the O’Grady’s, Sean and Pat, for being class acts after the fight, stating that while unfortunate, they didn’t feel like the butt that resulted in the stoppage was intentional.
Seven months later in his next title defense, Jim Watt lost to the great Alexis Arguello and Watt promptly retired. Eleven months later, after a tune-up bout against 1-2-0 Jose Cabrera, Sean O’Grady ended his quest for a title, decisively defeating the talented Hilmer Kenty over 15-rounds.
The Kid was the new WBA lightweight title.
The final score of the fight saw O’Grady winning unanimously, 146-138, 147-137, and 146-139 in what was a far better bout than the scores indicated. The bout was no walk in the park or attributable to an off night on the part of Kenty. The Kronk gym fighter effectively used his jab and right hands to keep a very aggressive Sean O’Grady off him. For his part, O’Grady pressed Kenty from the first minute of the