Former lightweight champions Livingstone Bramble and Ray Mancini will reunite for the first time in 28 years when they attend the 3rd Annual Ring 10 Extravaganza tomorrow at Marina Del Rey in Throgs Neck, New York. The last time they were seen together was on February 16, 1985 when the two men battled in a rematch for the WBA lightweight championship at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nevada.
Bramble (22-1-1, 14 KO's) became the second world champion to hail from the Virgin Islands (the first being the late Emile Griffith) when he defeated Mancini for the WBA lightweight title on June 1, 1984 by fourteenth round TKO. An eccentric character and Rastafarian, Bramble had been rumored to practice witchcraft and used snakes, chickens and voodoo dolls in preparation for the rematch. He promised to maim and destroy Mancini, intensifying the bad blood that already existed between them.
With speculation that this would be his last fight, Mancini (29-2, 23 KO's) entered the rematch looking to regain the title that he lost to the quirky Bramble eight months earlier. Once the sweetheart of boxing, Mancini was still impacted by the November 1982 ring death of Duk-koo Kim that unfairly de-railed his career to a great extent. A victory over Bramble to avenge his second professional loss could have, perhaps, helped to ease some of the pain.
Mancini would not be stopped this time, but he would not be allowed victory either.
Much like their first fight, Mancini was the busier and more aggressive fighter. Pressing the action, Mancini would bury his head inside while letting his hands go with short punches, but they lacked ferocity. Bramble patiently waited to counterpunch with hard right hands and uppercuts that often snapped back the head of his shorter opponent.
Mancini's face showed the effects of Bramble's punches, with his left eye swelling shut and a cut on the corner of his right eye that started to stream a river of blood in Round 5. It did not slow him down, however, as Mancini continued to stand toe-to-toe with the champion and kept working throughout the fight. Yet, Bramble was the fresher and overall more effective fighter even though he did not step on the gas and go for the kill.
Although the ringside doctor kept examining Mancini's battered eyes, neither fighter ever appeared to be in any real trouble over the course of the 15-round war and there were several close rounds. It was Bramble who got the edge and won the decision by just one point on all three judges' cards with scores of 144-143, 143-142 and 143-142.
Boxing 101 saw Bramble winning by a wider margin of 144-141.
It would be exactly one year to the day that Bramble made his second title defense with a thirteenth round TKO over Tyrone Crawley on February 16, 1986 before losing the belt to the great Edwin Rosario by second round knockout in September 1986. Bramble never was able to re-capture championship form, with his two victories over Mancini being the highlight of his career. His last fight was in June 2003 and his final record stands at 40-26-3 (25 KO's).
The 23-year old Mancini temporarily retired for four years after the second loss to Bramble but returned to the ring in March 1989 to fight Hector "Macho" Camacho for the vacant WBO light welterweight title, losing a questionable split decision. He had one final fight in April 1992 against former lightweight champion Greg Haugen who stopped him in Round 7. Mancini retired with a record of 29-5 (23 KO's).
Bramble apologized after this memorable rematch "for any insult" to Mancini, acknowledging his gutsy opponent as a man who made the lightweight division one of the more popular divisions in boxing.
Both men made this one of the most entertaining rivalries in boxing, as well.
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