Eric Lucas (left) faces then-incumbent WBA tremendous middleweight titleholder Mikkel Kessler earlier than their January 2005 struggle. (Picture by Keld Navntoft/AFP by way of Getty Pictures)
Gritty battler Eric Lucas was in a position to overcome any shortcomings he had with fierce willpower and onerous work. After two unsuccessful makes an attempt to win a world title, Lucas’ persistence was lastly rewarded when he received the WBC tremendous middleweight belt and held it for almost two years within the early 2000s.
Lucas was born in Montreal, Canada, on Could 29, 1971. His early years have been notably tough, however they helped form him as an individual and served him properly in his boxing profession.
“My childhood wasn’t the simplest,” Lucas informed The Ring. “I don’t know something about my father. My mom raised my brother and I alone; I’m the oldest one. My mom did her finest, however we missed the necessities like garments and meals.
“Oddly, I had the possibility to flourish in sports activities and have the life I’ve at the moment. Boxing gave me a greater life.”
Lucas first encountered boxing when he was 11 years previous, weighing 72 kilos.
“I performed in a hockey league,” he mentioned. “I had a buddy who was boxing in a fitness center; he invited me to the fitness center to see, so I began to coach at the moment. I used to be a really sporty child. I select boxing as a result of I wished to be skilled in a sport. I believed it could be simpler to go for boxing as an alternative of hockey.”
“… I began to imagine that in the future I may very well be a world champion.”
Lucas went on to win a nationwide championship and had an beginner report of 88-18 earlier than turning skilled as a junior middleweight in December 1991.
His early hopes have been tapered by drawing two of his first six fights. The Canadian shortly grew into a brilliant middleweight and received the nationwide title in his fifteenth struggle. He added a WBC regional title earlier than dropping for the primary time in opposition to Bryant Brannon when he challenged for the NABF title in August 1995.
“Brannon was only a unhealthy day at work,” mentioned Lucas, who dropped a lopsided 12-round unanimous resolution. “I had not full reached my bodily maturity.”
After rebounding with a victory, Lucas was surprisingly chosen to face WBC gentle heavyweight titleholder Fabrice Tiozzo in Saint-Etienne, France, in January 1996.
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“I used to be very well handled in France by the promoter of the struggle,” mentioned Lucas, who gave his all and recovered from a third-round knockdown however misplaced a 12-round unanimous resolution. “The boxing followers have been screaming my identify on the finish of the struggle as a result of they appreciated my braveness and my efficiency. It was a very good expertise for my first world title struggle.”
Lucas’ efficiency was sufficient to earn him a struggle with pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr. in Jacksonville, Florida, in June 1996.
“I obtained an invite for a struggle with one of the best fighter of my technology,” he mentioned. “I had the possibility to have a coaching camp at Cuba, the nation that’s recognized to have one of the best fighters. I accomplished 11 rounds with Roy Jones Jr. I didn’t do the 12 rounds, as a result of the physician stopped me as a result of I had a nasty lower on my eye. On the finish of that struggle, I began to imagine that in the future I may very well be a world champion.”
Lucas continued to hone his expertise over the following couple of years. He fought big-punching Antwun Echols to a draw, bested veteran Kevin Pompey (UD 10), knocked out former world title challenger Segundo Mercado (KO 5) and gained native bragging rights by broadly outboxing Alex Hilton (UD 10).
England’s Glenn Catley got here to Montreal to face Lucas in a WBC 168-pound title eliminator in December 1999.
“A number of weeks earlier than, I severely injured my proper hand, and because the struggle was actually vital for me, I didn’t wish to cancel,” he defined. “So, I skilled one of the best I may, and some hours earlier than the struggle I had an injection in my hand within the hope of not feeling the ache. However, sadly, within the third around the ache got here again and I used to be not in a position to make use of my hand in its full capability.”
Finally, Lucas was stopped a minute into the ultimate spherical.
The loss would have dissuaded lesser males, however when Davey Hilton Jr. was stripped of the WBC title, Lucas’ group was in a position to deliver Catley again to Montreal to contest the emptiness in July 2001.
“[Because of] what occurred within the first struggle and preventing with just one hand, I used to be feeling actually assured about that struggle,” mentioned Lucas, who stopped Catley in seven rounds. “My coaching was excellent. I had no accidents. My weight-loss was excellent. All the things was simply excellent and I felt prepared for that struggle.
“Turning into world champion meant quite a bit to me, as a result of I wasn’t the one [who was ever expected] to be the champion.”
However now Lucas was champion and he wasn’t about to let it go with out a struggle. He reeled off three title defenses in opposition to the revered trio of Dingaan Thobela (TKO 8), Vinny Paz (UD 12) and Omar Sheika (UD 12).
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“Every struggle had its personal significance,” he defined. “A number of months earlier than, Thobela misplaced a struggle in a decent and controversial resolution in opposition to Dave Hilton Jr., and due to that I used to be obligated to provide him an opportunity. So it was actually vital for me to win this struggle with out leaving any doubt.
“Even when he was in the long run of his profession, Vinny Paz was actually common, and the chance to struggle with him in his nation was for me an opportunity to have good visibility [to the boxing world].
“Omar Sheika had fought Stéphane Ouellet, who was actually common in Quebec, a number of years earlier than. Sheika was referred to as a powerful fighter, and to have the chance to struggle in opposition to him in Quebec was a superb likelihood for me to point out that I hadn’t turn out to be champion by chance.”
Subsequent, Lucas took his title to face Markus Beyer in Leipzig, Germany, in April 2003.
“I’ll merely say that also, to today, I don’t perceive [how] I misplaced that call,” mentioned Lucas, clearly nonetheless aggrieved by the extremely controversial break up resolution that went in Beyer’s favor. “I’ve nothing extra to say.”
A rematch was ordered by the WBC, nevertheless it by no means occurred and Lucas ended up dealing with Danny Inexperienced for the interim title.
“I don’t actually know what occurred within the negotiations for a rematch struggle in opposition to Beyer, and to seek out myself within the ring with Danny Inexperienced — I don’t perceive,” he mentioned. “This struggle mustn’t have occurred, as a result of one week earlier than, I tore a muscle in my ribs. That defeat (Lucas was stopped in six rounds) was the start of the top for me.”
Lucas craved yet another world title alternative, and his coach, Stephan Larouche, was in a position to assist his cost safe a struggle with WBA tremendous middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler in Brondby, Denmark, in January 2006.
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“Stephan warned me that it wasn’t going to be a simple struggle,” mentioned Lucas, who was stopped in 10 rounds. “I informed him that I wished this struggle anyway, as a result of I wished a world championship struggle earlier than I retired.
“Regardless of the defeat, it was a optimistic expertise for me. I’ve no regrets about this struggle, I did what I wished to do.”
Lucas retired for over three years earlier than deciding to make a comeback. He misplaced his second struggle again to Librado Andrade (RTD 8) and retired for good.
Trying again, Lucas is proud of along with his achievements contained in the ring.
Lucas spotlight reel on YouTube
“Initially of my skilled profession I wasn’t meant to have the profession that I had,” mentioned Lucas (39-8-3, 15 knockouts). “I needed to work more durable than the common. I didn’t have a pure expertise, so I needed to work greater than the others who had pure expertise. I knew that if I wished to do properly in boxing, the key was to imagine and work onerous. The hassle paid off.
“To have 50 skilled fights, together with eight world championship fights and to win 4 of them. For me, I can say that I actually succeeded in my skilled boxing profession.”
Lucas, now 51, is married, has two daughters and lives in Magog, about 90 minutes from Montreal.
In retirement, he initially stayed in boxing working for Interbox. He has since owned a number of companies, together with a sports activities bar, espresso store and ice-cream parlor however determined that wasn’t for him and is now not concerned in any of them. He notably enjoys taking part in golf.
He graciously took time to talk to The Ring about one of the best he fought in 10 key classes.
Michael Kessler: “He had a powerful jab. From the primary jab I obtained, I knew it could be an extended night.”
Roy Jones Jr.: “It was tough to land [a punch on him], as a result of he had superb footwork, and when he was on the ropes, he had his palms up. And his protection was excellent. I didn’t have sufficient expertise to foil him.”
Jones Jr.: “His palms have been a blur. He was so quick. His palms have been unpredictable.”
Jones Jr.: “By the point I used to be excited about my subsequent [attack], he had already modified place.”
Jones Jr.: “[I have] no selection [but] to say Roy Jones Jr. With all the abilities he had, he was intelligent sufficient to make use of these expertise to perfection.”
Fabrice Tiozzo: “At the moment, he was an actual gentle heavyweight and I used to be a small tremendous middleweight. I used to be younger and never bodily mature.”
Librado Andrade: “I by no means hit an opponent’s chin as a lot as on this struggle, and his legs by no means buckled.”
Michael Kessler: “I don’t know if it’s as a result of I used to be on the finish of my profession, however each punch that hit me was hurting me.”
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Jones Jr.: “He was in a position to do no matter he wished, in all methods.”
Jones Jr.: “Little question it was Roy Jones Jr. At the moment, he was one of the best pound-for-pound on the planet. It was very spectacular for me, and I think about it was a privilege to have the possibility to struggle him on HBO.”
Questions and/or feedback may be despatched to Anson at [email protected].