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Len Harvey

Titles: Never a world champion

Record: 111-13-9 

Born: July 11, 1907 in Stoke Climsland, England

Years active: 1920-1942

Nickname: none

Harvey was the embodiment of the "British Style" of boxing. He relied on his 
defensive skills and accurate counterpunching skills to set traps for his 
offensive minded opponents. It was brains over brawn for the master boxer 
who could however punch when forced to the ropes as his 51 knockout 
victories suggest. A monument to his defensive skill was a face that had 
almost no scar tissue even after 22 years of fighting against the best the 
world had to offer. Only two times in his official 133 bouts (historians are 
sure he fought many  more unrecorded fights, Harvey claimed 418 ) did Harvey 
not hear the final bell. One of those fights was against British heavyweight 
champion Jack Petersen when the fight was stopped due to the swelling and 
bleeding around his eyes and in his last fight he was belted through the 
ropes and could not reach the ring in the allotted time. Harvey to this day 
remains the only man to win the British middle, lightheavy and heavyweight 
title. Harvey began his career at the age of 12 and outpointed Young Kid 
over 6 rounds, by the time Harvey was 18 he was already a veteran of 61 
fights. This is also the time where he first challenged for the British 
middleweight crown and was held to a draw against the well regarded Harry 
Mason. In his second attempt of the crown he defeated the Scotsman Alex 
Ireland by knocking him out in the 7th round. Len's 6 title defenses at 
middleweight included a 3 highly charged battles with toughman Jack Hood, 
all three went 15 rounds with Harvey wining two and fighting to a draw in 
the other. While his pure boxing was admired in England it did not please 
the American fight crowds when Harvey ventured to America. As a outsider 
of sorts Harvey lost on three occasions in America to Vince Dundee and Ben 
Jeby (both would win versions of the middleweight title in the future)
but his style worked against him as the sole judge seemed to favor the 
free swinging Americans over the reserved but accurate Harvey. In England 
Harvey defended his title against Jock McAvoy and Len Johnson before 
fighting for a world title against Frenchman Marcel Thil. A tough Thil 
used his head as much as his fists during the bout but successfully fought 
his way inside racking the body of Harvey. The fight was close and was 
awarded to the defending champ Thil. After a loss to Jock McAvoy at 
middleweight Harvey moved up to light heavyweight and won the British
crown by outboxing Eddie Phillips. In a unprecedented move Harvey challenged 
the British heavyweight champ Jack Peterson after his title wining effort 
at light heavyweight. He won the fight over the much bigger Peterson but 
was not paid after his wife said he would fight Peterson for nothing in 
order to challenge for the title. Harvey added to his impressive resume 
when he won a tough fight over the talented black heavyweight Larry Gains, 
again he outweighed by 20 pounds. A rematch with Jack Petersen was lost 
after his eye was too badly damaged to continue. By now however the 14 
years of fighting was catching up with Harvey, still he fought on with some 
success. A loss to Petersen at heavyweight and another loss to John Henry 
Lewis which was disputed with many thinking Harvey won for the world light
heavyweight title ended his days as a contender. In a testament to the 
popularity of Harvey 82,000 (to this day a record in England) came to see 
him fight his old rival Jock McAvoy, and Harvey did not disappoint reaching 
in his reserves for one last brilliant performance. As in their other bouts 
it was close and featured the hard punching McAvoy trying to hit the elusive 
Harvey, and almost knocking out Harvey in a classic 14th round. Harvey held 
on and won a points decision. Harvey now 32 joined the Army at the outset 
of World War II. In his last bout after a 3 year layoff Harvey was defeated 
by Freddie Mills who was also 12 years his junior. After the war Harvey ran 
several pubs houses until he retired at the age of 63 and died in 1976.