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A Forgotten Fighter - Bob Cleroux 

by Joe Krause

 In an era of immortals, mere mortals are often overshadowed. In an era of legends, stars are often forgotten. Would (48-6-1) 38 KO's usually be noticed?  Would wins over many highly-rated fighters usually be noticed? Would the fact that this fighter was never stopped make a difference?  It should make a difference, and he should be remembered as a great heavyweight.  I'm writing this to help us remember Bob Cleroux.

 In 1957 a fighter that stood 6 feet 2 inches fighting out of Montreal, Canada began his career by knocking out Ray Batey in his hometown in four rounds.  By the end of 1959, Cleroux was poised to break into the top tier of heavyweights with a record of 17-1-1 with 15 KO's.  His only loss came against the more experienced Buddy Turman (30-5) 23 KO's in his 14th fight. In 1960 Cleroux burst upon the scene with some big wins. He first won a decision over Willi Besmanoff, then 5 months later won his biggest fight to date by knocking out former title contender Roy Harris in the 5th round. This put Bob in position to fight for the Canadian Heavyweight Title.  His opponent that night was Hall-of-Fame inductee George Chuvalo. Cleroux was
able to win that 12 round decision and with it moved into the top ten. Cleroux soon avenged his only loss by knocking out Buddy Turman in the 2nd round before facing Chuvalo for the second time that year on Nov 23rd 1960. This time Chuvalo won the 12 round decision and handed Cleroux his second loss.  At the end of 1960 Bob was ranked #7 by Ring Magazine and would do
nothing in 1961 but win against quality opposition. He began by knocking out former top ten contenders Harold Carter (KO 2), Roy Harris (KO 5) and Alex Miteff (KO 7) in Montreal.  He then defeated George Chuvalo in the rubber match (12 round decision) of their three-fight series to win back the Canadian Heavyweight Title at the end of 1961. As the year ended Cleroux was the #5 ranking heavyweight in the world with a record of (28-2-1) 23 KO's. If Bob could win a couple more big fights he would be poised for a title shot.  He first won by 7-round knockout over top ten ranked heavyweight George Logan before facing his toughest opponent, Zora Folley, on Apr 18th, 1962.  Folley was always poised for a title shot himself, but was passed by for other less-accomplished fighters time and time again. Cleroux lost a ten-round decision to the tricky Folley and was unable to move to the top of the rankings. Another loss to Mike DeJohn temporarily halted the move up the rankings, but a win over former title contender Tom McNeeley kept Bob ranked
#7 going into 1963.  After four knockouts over average opposition, Cleroux again met Folley, this time in Montreal.  Zora once again won a ten-round decision and Cleroux abruptly left the sport for four years (1964-1967).  In 1968 he came back and defeated Cleveland Williams by decision and was on a nine fight-winning streak before being derailed by Billy Joiner on July
31st, 1969.  Bob Cleroux's resume is very good indeed, but he isn't even mentioned while George Chuvalo is still revered.  Certainly this has something to do with Chuvalo losing front-page news fights to Ali (twice), Frazier and Foreman. Also Chuvalo's stunning controversial knockout over Jerry Quarry is very memorable, but most remember the losses to Ali when they remember Chuvalo. Cleroux never had this BIG fight that made the American public take notice. His biggest fights were against fighters generally forgotten themselves (Folley, Williams, Harris) or against Chuvalo who is remembered for something else completely.

Was Bob Cleroux a great fighter? Yes, he was a star in an era of

Does he deserve to be remembered? Yes, but is overshadowed by his own contemporaries.

Will he ever be remembered? By me today, and maybe never again.

Come see records for over 250 heavyweights of the 1960-1980 era and fight by fight recaps and scoring as I viewed them in the 32 fights between nine selected fighters (Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Holmes, Lyle, Quarry, Norton, Shavers, Ellis).


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