Wednesday, February 21

Who is Julius Francis? The former British heavyweight champion who fought Mike Tyson


Former heavyweight boxer Julius Francis showed he still has knockout power after a video of him dealing with an incident at Boxpark Wembley went viral.

Now a bouncer, Francis was filmed flooring a man with one punch in an altercation outside the bar which is a popular haunt for England football fans.

The Metropolitan Police said it was investigating the incident and, as such, Boxpark explained it could not comment beyond acknowledging the footage.

Amid renewed interest in a Brit who was used to the limelight during his time in the ring, here’s a look at Francis’ career.

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What titles did Julius Francis win?

In a professional boxing career spanning between 1993 to 2006, Londoner Francis won, lost and regained the regional Southern Area title during his first three years of action.

Francis unsuccessfully challenged for a European title in 1997, then won the Commonwealth and British belts in 1997, going on to defend the British belt three times and the Commonwealth strap on four occasions.

That earned him the lauded Lonsdale Belt outright, an honor bestowed upon British champions who win three domestic title fights.

Defeat against Danny Williams in 2001 meant Francis lost his British and Commonwealth crowns at Wembley Conference Center — half a mile away from Boxpark.

Did Julius Francis fight Mike Tyson?

Francis fought one of the most feared men on the planet when he met Mike Tyson in a non-title fight at Manchester’s MEN Arena on January 29, 2000.

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Tyson was a fading force at the time and was fighting outside of the US for the first time since his shock defeat to Buster Douglas in 1990.

There was also controversy over Tyson’s permission to visit the UK because of his conviction for rape in 1992.

Francis was the Commonwealth and British champion at the time and entered the fight on the back of three successive wins in London.

What happened when Julius Francis fought Mike Tyson?

The journeyman had one of the most punishing nights of his career against the former heavyweight champion of the world.

Tyson knocked Francis down with 45 seconds of the first round remaining, then sent his opponent to the canvas again before the bell sounded.

Francis returned for the second round and bravely continued despite being knocked down a further three times, although referee Roy Francis had seen enough after a right uppercut sent the loser sprawling for a final time in the bout.

In a quirky sponsorship agreement, Piers Morgan, the then-editor of UK newspaper The Mirror, sealed a deal to have the outlet branded on Francis’ boots for the fight in anticipation of the underdog being off his feet regularly.

“At the time, I had a column in [rival tabloid] The Sun, and they sponsored the fight,” explained Tyson’s UK promoter, Frank Warren, speaking to Boxing News in January 2022.

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“I’d known [Morgan] for years and he asked if they could sponsor it but I told him he was too late and, as a joke, told him to sponsor the bottom of his boots.”

What was Julius Francis’ professional boxing record?

Tyson aside, the most notable name on Francis’ record is long-standing former world champion Vitali Klitschko, who also beat him in two rounds when the pair met in Germany in 1998.

Francis had a respectable career, although he also suffered defeats against future world champion John Ruiz in 1994 and, by decision, Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison in 2004.

Now 57, his overall record after his final fight was 23 wins, 24 defeats and a solitary draw — worsened considerably by losing each of his 14 final fights. Francis’ ability to land a concussive punch, it seems, has not escaped him almost 20 years on.




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