We talk about the commentators curse, or the commentator giving a fighter the proverbial "kiss of death" and today we have a great example of that from 1983. In fact for today's "What a Shock" we have a great example of a huge upset, and for another week we have that upset coming via the hands of an unfancied Filipino in what likely goes down as one of the biggest upsets by a Filipino in Europe. Ever.
September 27th 1983
Wembley Arena, Wembley, London, United Kingdom
Frank Cedeno (30-6-3, 13) vs Charlie Magri (28-2, 21)
We mentioned the commentators curse and that's because of how the commentator began for the bout here. Working for British TB the commentator, explained that last time out "when Magri won the title in March he was the underdog, but he's not the under-dog tonight against Cedeno."
In March 1983 Charlie Magri won the WBC Flyweight title by stopping defending champion Eleoncio Mercedes, on cuts. The win had been a huge one for the popular Englishman who had been stopped in 2 of his 6 previous bouts, and had allowed him to call himself a world champion. Prior to winning the world title "Champagne Charlie" had held the EBU title and proven himself as an exciting, power punching Flyweight who came to fight and fight hard. Defensively he was very flawed, but his offense was his best form of defense.
He was now making his first defense around 6 months after winning the title. He was, as the commentator suggested, the clear favourite. This was expected to be an easy first defense against a challenger who seemed to pose little threat to the Englishman.
In Frank Cedeno we had a Filipino challenger who had scored just 13 stoppages in 39 bouts. Coming in to the bout he had won 4 in a row, but had gone 1-2-1 in the 4 fights prior to that run, and his best wins were all at domestic level. There was no hidden gem win on his record with the biggest name on his record being the then on the slide Montsayarm Haw Mahachai, who his 3 subsequent bouts before retiring. Not only was Cedeno a light punching challenger, but he was also fighting outside Asia for the first time in his career.
There was literally nothing for Magri and his team to fear....right? Well that's what we all assumed.
From the off Magri pressed forward and had the crowd roaring their support early in the opening round. Magri, the aggressor, seemed to take the opening round and landed some heavy leather on the Filipino who looked in trouble part way through the opening round. Cedeno seemed to be forced to fight fire with fire in an effort to just get Magri to give him some respect.
Despite being backed up and hammered through much of the opening Cedeno did land some good shots when he fired back. He did the same early in round 2 but as the round went on Cedeno's work rate dropped off and he took to the ropes, trying to soak up the pressure of the Englishman. It was a risky tactic but one which was done with the intention of taking the steam out of Magri.
In round 3 we began to see Cedeno come alive again, and Magri responded, in what was a fantastic round of back and forth action. The power and aggression of Magri up against the skills and toughness of Cedeno, with the challenger building in confidence. Magri tried to take the confidence away from the Filipino with some huge body shots, but Cedeno weathered the storm whilst firing back.
In round 4 the pace dropped off, which was understandable given the insane tempo of the opening round. The slower pace suited Cedeno who began to create space and land some huge shots at range. Magri, although still unloading with huge shots, was beginning to look a lot less active than he had earlier and he was beginning to feel the shots from Cedeno a lot more than he had in the first 3.
In the fifth we saw Magri slowing more. His lack of defense was now becoming a major issue, as his offense had began to slow as well. He wasn't able to sustain anything for more than a few seconds whilst Cedeno picked some great shots, with both hands. By now it was starting to look like Magri was doubting himself as both men were digging deep. The action wasn't none stop, but it was back and forth, and momentum swung one way then the other, with both looking spent and in trouble.
Heading into round 6 it was clear both men had taken a lot out of each other, and themselves. The crowd were getting behind their man with a huge "Charlie" chant, but it wasn't enough to stir their man into a second wind. He looked spent and mid way through the round he was rocked. A follow up dropped the champion, who managed to recover to his feet, before going down again. Once more Magri's heart got him up but he was done and soon afterwards he was down again, with the referee finally waving off the bout.
The upset was huge, with Cedeno dethroning the highly fancied British champion. Sadly for Cedeno his reign was a short one, and he was stopped in 2 rounds by Koji Kobayashi in his first defense. Cedeno would bounce back from the loss to Kobayashi, but lose in 1987 to Gilberto Roman, before going 2-2 in his last 4 and retiring in the late in 1980's.
In 1985 Magri would get a chance to recapture the title, but was stopped in 4 rounds by Sot Chitalada and ended his career in 1986, with a loss to Duke McKenzie.
Although not too well remembered now a days, this bout was a genuine thriller and it may well have ruined both men. Thankfully for Cedeno he took the win, scored a huge upset, and had a career defining victory that saw him become one of the very few Filipino's to be crowned a world champion on UK soil.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).