RingSide Report

World News, Social Issues, Politics, Entertainment and Sports

Ringside Report Remembers the Late Boxer Willie Limond (1979-2024)

By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart

Shocks in any sport do not come any bigger than the unexpected death of a well regarded and loved boxer. Willie Limond’s 42-6, 13 KOs, death has stunned Scottish boxing.

Limond never won a major world championship, never even fought for a major belt, but his legacy is greater than any of that. He is not defined by the honors fought for and won, for he shall be remembered for so much more.

Limond fought as an amateur managing to win a bronze for his home country, Scotland in Turkey in 1995 at the European Cadet Championships. Latterly, before his death Liond had gone full circle and was one of Boxing Scotland’s coaches, dedicated to giving back to the community which had given him so much.

But his fighting career took a slight detour when Limond played professional soccer, for lower league Albion Rovers, before deciding to hang up the boots and dedicate himself to the gloves that brought glory as European super featherweight, Commonwealth lightweight and super lightweight and British super lightweight champion.

He was still active and, at the time of his passing, was in camp for a fight against Newcastle’s popular Joe Laws in Scotland. Us fight fans thought, however, we had seen him in his last competitive fight, when he and another Scottish ring legend, Ricky Burns went at it one more time in Glasgow in Braehead last year. Limond was stopped with blood pouring from his face in a fight that was watched with admiration at the heart Limond had shown once more as the referee waved the fight off. We knew already that all Limond wanted to do was to provide for his family and do the best he was capable of being – he did those two things in abundance. And with a smile and hearty reputation for being the man who lit up rooms, his honest professionalism was what marked him out as a credit to himself, the sport, and Scotland.

But Limond also gave me two of my most conflictingly beautiful moments as a fan of the art. And both happened in the same damn fight… That, however, is to come…

In 1999, Limond made his professional debut with a win on the 12th of November in the Thistle Hotel, Glasgow, over Lenny Hodgkins. He went on an 18 fight winning streak and Limond marked his pathway out with a marque win over Mongolian media darling and future WBU champion and IBO challenger at super featherweight Choi Tsevenpurev.

It was on the 12th of December 2003, that Limond had his first opportunity to win a belt when he took on fellow Scot and also undefeated Alex Arthur in the Braehead Arena for the British super featherweight title. Billed as Glasgow – Limond, against Edinburgh – Alex Arthur, the fight caught the public’s imagination. Ironically was his first defeat as Arthur – a future world champion – stopped him in the 8th.

But if anything, this tested Limond’s resolve and any fighter who has a loss in their career should study how Limond reacted. He worked hard to get back in the mix and on the 19th of June 2004, back in the Braehead Arena, Limond won the EBU super featherweight title when he beat Frenchman Youssouf Djibaba comfortably on points. He defended it successfully against Spain’s Alberto Lopez on the 3rd of December, later that same year in the Meadowbank Sports Centre in Edinburgh.

He was looking for the springboard to make bigger and better fights and get into better contention but settled for wining the Celtic super featherweight title – a domestic title – with a win against Kevin O’Hara on the 17th of June 2005 in the Kelvin Hall, Glasgow.

Limond then went in for the Commonwealth lightweight belt against Joshua Allotey of Ghana. On the 4th of November 2006, back in the Kelvin Hall, Limond added that belt to his trophy cabinet on points. Then came his first defense and that was against a new rising super star. Amir Khan.

Now Khan was an Olympian with a future hyped beyond measure. Limond put him on the canvas. Before the fight, I was a Khan fan. Rooting for him and his rise, they put him in against a Scot… In these types of events how could I lose? The fighter I really liked was fighting a home fighter. If the former won, my guy won, if the latter won, my compatriot won and as a proud Scot I should be happy. Except life is not so easy.

And so, on the 14th of July 2007, watching it happen in the 02 Arena in London, I began the fight, wanting Khan to win, to progress, and get closer to world honors. Then Limond floored him, and the conflict rose. I became a Limond fan, wanted the cocky kid to get his comeuppance. I was a proud Scot, willing our guy to beat the English hype job that was too big for his boots.

Khan recovered and stopped Limind on the stool after the 8th round. I was devastated. But Khan was yesterday’s man and I chided myself for being disloyal to my fellow Scotsman. As Limond was to reflect thereafter: “Everybody remembers me for that fight and sometimes it’s better to be remembered for something than not remembered at all. It didn’t go my way, but these things happen. I don’t agree with how it went, but, hey, it’s 15 years ago now. He had his moments and I had mine. He took his and I never took mine. The guy was getting long counts and all sorts, but Amir got up and did what I didn’t do. He finished the fight. I couldn’t do that. Fair play.”

But again, Limond got back in the gym and fought on – winning the IBO intercontinental title against Martin Watson on the 29th of March 2008 in the SECC, Glasgow.

Limond was then in line for a shot at the WBU lightweight title. The WBU flashed and flattered at the time and some, like Ricky Hatton and Scott Harrison added their belt on the way to greater honors. Limond was due to face the Zambian champion Godwin Mutampuka in Paisley on the 27th of February 2009, however Mutampuka withdrew as he failed his medical. With rumors of the Zambian having HIV, there was no suitably qualified replacement opponent, so the title chance was cancelled but Limond kept himself on the card with a keep busy fight for his fans.

The WBU lightweight title fight did come on the 29th of May 2009 when at the Thistle Hotel Glasgow, Limond beat Ryan Barrett on points. Willie Limond was the WBU lightweight champion.
After a few winning battles, came the Erik Morales fight. Sharing a rind with a legend, unfortunately ended with Limond being stopped in the 6th round but on the 11th of September 2010, in Mexico, with the WBC silver lightweight belt on the line, Limond came up a little bit short. With 56,000 in attendance, Limond may have come up short, but the humidity and the altitude dd for him. After round four he looked knackered. But what an experience!

And after that loss, once again, Limond did what he always did – got back on the metaphorical bike and kept going. However, returns were beginning to diminish, and despite a new promotional deal with Scottish legendary promoter, Tommy Gilmour, as well as a decent showing against Arek Malek, in June 2011, in the Kelvin Hall his British title fight at lightweight against Anthony Crolla was wholly unsuccessful. Hearing the final bell, Limond was whitewashed – 120 -108 twice and 120-109 on the other card. Inevitably people began a clamor for his retirement.

Limond’s response was to go back to the gym… His return was an amazing Commonwealth light welterweight title win on the 21st of January 2013 when he knocked out unbeaten Eddie Doyle in the first round! Was there fuel in Limond’s tank yet? That Commonwealth belt was successfully defended against Mitch Prince on the 7th of June 2013 winning on points in Bellahouston and then in 2014 back at Braehead against Curtis Woodhouse on the 27th of June 2014. The Woodhouse fight was also for the British title, so Limond lifted that too in a majority decision win. In 2016, shared the ring with Tyrone Nurse but was stopped in the 9th. It was clear that his time had come and gone.

Then he kind of retired, but he never really did

Then it was the two colleagues from Boxing Scotland – Willie Limond and Ricky Burns who got in the ring for what we all hoped was the last time. We had seen Anthony Crolla have one last fight at home and also had the Ricky Hatton/ Barrera fight to bring the curtain down on his ring opportunities. This was the next example of fighters getting to bow out properly. It was a night to be remembered as tickets flew out the door and a capacity crowd watched Limond looking like his career had finally caught up with him as the wily old fox that is Burns managed to skillfully beat him. Burns stopped Limond in the 8th round with Limond’s face a bloody mess. Afterwards, Burns was less than sure he was done, but Limond was clear: “If something good gets offered to me after this fight, that could change my mind. But, right now, this is my last fight.”

It had Alex Arthur commentating, Josh Taylor, John Ryder, Lee McGregor and Nathanial Collins amongst huge numbers of other current and former boxers dotted around the arena. Scotland came to see what Scotland could do. and they did it in style and without any prisoners left standing in the ring after. They both gave the fight game respect.
Clearly, Limond at some point, went back to the gym, got on his bike and began the return. Unfortunately, this time, having suffered a seizure whilst driving, was found unconscious, and was finally defeated by life after a 10 round/day fight in hospital. He was 45 years of age.

His legacy – Arthur, Morales, Burns, Khan, Crolla, Nurse, Woodhouse, Barret – that is more than a solid CV. A skillful man who gave of himself to so many who benefitted form his wisdom, time and mentoring, Scotland lost an immense figure. If anyone deserved twenty bells rather than the traditional ten, it is Limond for what he did for the sport when fighting and what he did for it when outside the ring too.

RIP Willie Limond.

Click Here to Order Boxing Interviews Of A Lifetime By “Bad” Brad Berkwitt