By: Jim Amato
I enjoy watching all different types of fighters. I appreciate the art and finesse of a clever boxer like Willie Pep. I enjoy the rock-em- sock-em style of a Joe Frazier. There were men with great jabs like Larry Holmes. I was dazzled by the hand speed of Sugar Ray Leonard and more recently by Joe Calzaghe. I was in awe of the power of a Earnie Shavers or Julian Jackson. I was in even more awe of men with the granite jaws who could absorb the power shots like George Chuvalo and Tex Cobb did.
These were just a handful of fighters I have the ultimate respect for. Overall I think my favorite trait in a boxer is a bulldog tenacity. They may not be the best boxer or the hardest puncher and at times their chin may betray them. Still as long as they are standing their opponents better be prepared to fight. I guess gritty is best adjective I can use to describe this type of fighter. Doug DeWitt fit the bill.
Doug was born on August 13, 1961 in Youngstown, Ohio. He boxed out of Yonkers, New York and turned professional in 1980. He won his first eight fights before dropping a decision to tough Ben Serrano. He bounced right back with three wins including a kayo over Danny McAloon. Later he would draw with Tony Suero and Serrano in a rematch.
Doug was also beating good fighters like Teddy Mann, Mike Tinley and Bobby Hoye. A 1984 first round knockout over Jimmy Sykes led to a match with ” Dangerous ” Don Lee. The ” Dangerous ” one had recently stopped the highly regarded contender Tony Sibson. Doug and Don battled to a draw. Next Doug would lose a verdict to Robbie Sims , the vastly under rated half brother of Marvin Hagler.
In 1986 Doug would show his grit as he lost decisions to two of the best punchers in the game at the time, Milt McCrory and Thomas ” Hitman ” Hearns. Just when you thought Doug’s chin was made of steel he suffered a 1987 KO loss to Jose Quinones. Later that year Doug would bounce back to win the USBA middleweight title by edging the crafty Tony Thornton.
A 1988 draw with Ronnie Essett led to Doug’s first shot at a world title. On November 8th he met WBA middleweight titleholder Sumbu Kalambay in Monte Carlo. Kalambay is largely forgotten these days but he was a very talented champion who holds wins over Herol Graham, Mike McCallum, Iran Barkley and Robbie Sims. In possibly his best career performance Kalambay clocked Doug in the seventh round.
Tenacity…In his very next fight Doug was rematched with Robbie Sims for the WBO version of the middleweight title. At that time the WBO was a fledging organization and did not carry the clout it has today. Be that as it may DeWitt pounded out a well deserved twelve round decision and was crowned the champion. He would successfully defend against former IBF junior middleweight champ Matthew Hilton. Matthew was a brutal puncher but Doug absorbed Hilton’s bombs and rallied to stop Matthew in the eleventh.
In 1990 Doug defended against Britain’s Nigel Benn. It was a savage affair that ended in the eighth round after Doug took quite a beating. No longer a champion Doug returned in 1992 and drew with Tyrone Frazier. He then got a points call over Dan Sherry. In his last fight Doug was outclassed by James Toney in six rounds ending his distinguished career.
DeWitt closed out with 46 bouts. He won 33 lost 8 and drew five times. He scored 19 knockouts and he was taken out four times. He met six other men who claimed a world title. He was smart in the ring and put his punches together well. His best asset was his fighting spirit. It made him a champion.