For this week's Closet Classic we want to go all the way back to 1983 and to London, England, for what turned out to be a brilliant, though often forgotten, Flyweight thriller that saw two men with very different styles fighting each other to a near standstill. It was a thrilling action fighter against a skilled Filipino southpaw and they put on something of an instant classic.
Frank Cedeno (30-6-3, 13) vs Charlie Magri (28-2, 21)
That bout we're going to talk about is the September 1983 WBC Flyweight title bout between defending champion Charlie Magri and Filipino challenger Frank Cedeno.
Heading in to the bout Filipino fighter Frank Cedeno was seen as a big under-dog in what was his first fight outside of Asia. Prior to this bout he had done little, and had lost his most meaningful bout to date, an OPBF Flyweight title bout against Hong Soo Yang. Although he had held the Philippines national title he had never proven himself as one of the best in Asia.
Coming in to the bout Cedeno had fought 3 times in just over 8 months, and this was his 5th bout in just over 13 months. On paper his best win in that time was over Korean Super Flyweight champion OK Kyun Yuh, but that win was a long, long way away from a world win. What allowed him to fight so often was his style, and he was a very technically smart boxer-mover, who was tough, but typically relied on his skills rather than his toughness.
Englishman Charlie Magri was the stylistic opposite to Cedeno. He was a raging bull in the ring, with a power and pressure style. He was all about aggression and physicality and he had taken the title 6 months earlier with a TKO win over Eleoncio Mercedes. Prior to holding the WBC belt he had held the European title and had won 5 of his previous 6, avenging the one loss.
Not only was Magri a powerful and aggressive fighter but he was also a very popular one, and at the time he was one of the few stars British boxing had. He had the hopes of a country behind him and a large and vocal crowd cheering him on in Wembley Arena.
From the opening round it was clear Magri was full of confidence. He came out quickly and was happy to let his hands go, dragging Cedeno into a great little battle early in to the first round. Cedeno played his part and fought back as the two traded shots in a surprisingly action packed opening round. It seemed pretty obvious that Magri didn't want this to go long and in round 2 he increased his pace further. Despite Magri increasing his tempo Cedeno was managing to take things well, and used the ring well, relying on the ropes to take some of the sting out of Magri's shots. It seemed a smart game plan for the short term, but not something he was going to be able to do through the bout, as Magri was landing some massive body shots.
After two very good rounds, both of which seemed to go in favour of Magri, the pace increased again as we got round 3, and what a round this was! This was high level stuff, with bombs from both, Magri was putting everything in to every shot he threw. He was trying to gut Cedeno with huge body shots, the type of thing that lesser fighters would have quit after feeling one or two of them. Cedeno however took them and came back, landing clean head shots, boxing well and staying composed despite the pressure.
The paces had been electric through the first 3 rounds but it felt like maybe the tide was turning with Magri starting to slow in round 4 and Cedeno finding his ranging with alarming success. Although Cedeno appeared to be taking over, he was feeling the effects himself, and it felt like one good shot, from either man, could be the end.
We had drama, momentum shifts, a thrilling and exciting tempo, intense action, two very back and forth and two different styles that gelled perfectly.
This is a real hidden gem, and one that should be enjoyed by every fight fan! A great, rarely mentioned, Flyweight classic.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features