Looking Back at Former WBC Cruiserweight Champion ST Gordon
By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart
He had 27 fights in 10 years that stretched from 1977 to 1987. S T Gordon, 20-7 17 KO’s, flashed large and then faded but for that period at the first end of his career there were some fights that mean he is remembered fondly as someone who got more than lucky but showed heart rather than skill in the ring.
His highest point in 1982-83, was being the WBC and lineal cruiserweight champion and boy what a time to be a champ!
ST turned professional in February 1977, and it was a very different world back then. Sugar Ray Leonard was having his first professional fight on the 5th, Jimmy Carter was in the White House, Shakira was born, and San Francisco was having an earthquake.
the move to professional did not come on the back of a huge amateur pedigree as Gordon claimed to some that he had no amateur fights so becoming a professional was clearly a bit of a gamble. Given his start it was hardly surprising that with some wins under his belt, there were also quite a few losses – including his debut!
In his first ten professional contests he was to win 7 and lose 3. Those losses included to Gerry Cooney where he was disqualified. Cooney was to go on to fight Larry Holmes for the WBC heavyweight title in 1982 as well as mixing it with and beating Ken Norton in 1981, so no disgrace there.
Gordon’s career was one from which many current professional boxers could learn. For him there were few marquee names – aside from Norton and Cooney – on his resume but there were hard fought wins and decisive contests that got his name mentioned and his reperformances noted. He was seen as a big puncher and that always catches your eye.
In 1981 Gordon was to get his world title shot after he faced and beat Yaqui Lopez, 61-15, 39 KO’s for the NABF cruiserweight title.
It set up his WBC and lineal chance when he stopped Carlos DeLeon, 53-8-1, 33 KO’s in only the 2nd round! It filled him full of promise.
His first defence was then postponed due to a car accident so when he got in the ring he was fighting more than his opponent.
He defended the belt against Jesse Burnett, 25-17-2, 13 KO’s, at the time a 37 year old with a 42 fight record that included 15 losses! Gordon was hardly imperious and did not impress on that night. The delay in getting the fight meant he was inactive for 7 months and claimed this may have shown in his performance. He remarked afterwards that “’I was not satisfied with my performance. It should have been only one or two rounds. I’ll be better next time.’ It was an 8th round stoppage.
It was also his 12th straight win and with a careful manager, of course that could have been put together with a degree of careful manipulation to get his name in the mix. But he had fought some fighters who were strong candidates and of the 12 he fought 6 with records with 2 losses or less.
Having come through that test he claimed, ‘I want to stay active now and I’ll fight anybody they want … heavyweight, cruiserweight” His next fight saw him go up to heavyweight and take on Trevor Berbick, 49-11-1, 33 KO’s! Gordon went in the ring and outfought Berbick by brute strength and crude tactics.
It could be argued that this was hardly the right preparation for his next contest – taking on DeLeon in a rematch for that WBC title he had just won. DeLeon was ready to rediscover what he had forgotten in the first fight and went in determined to take back his belt. DeLeon had taken the defeat hard and gone on to fight Leon Spinks – similar approach in many ways to Gordon – except DeLeon seemed to be on a learning curve, Gordon just seemed curving in the opposite direction.
Being at the top of the game for Gordon was a bit of a ride and it came down with a thump on the 17th July 1983. That thump included being sent to the floor in the first and last rounds in a 12 round points loss. There were rumours he had lost his love of the sport and that did not help him.
He retired but came back in 1987 after 4 years of inactivity. That comeback did not get to the end of the first round as he was knocked out in round one by Dwain Bonds.
By 1987 the world had moved on.
Mike Tyson knocked out Tyrell Briggs, Zac Efron was born, Ronald Reagan was in the White House whilst Los Angeles was still having earthquakes…
The boxing world though had been lit up by yet another boxer who had given himself in the ring and given service to the sport. We did not run with him in training, did not skip with him in gyms but we got on his railroad track and applauded him during that ride at the top. Many saw him as a powerful entertainer that was limited and had a crude style but I, for one, would not have got into the ring with him but am grateful, thanks to the wonders of YouTube I can see how many took that risk!