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World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Steve Roberts

Posted on December 11 2014                                              Bookmark and Share
By: Clive Baum



Since the World Boxing Federation was originally founded by American Larry Carrier in 1988, many of the sport’s biggest names have won a WBF title, and proudly defended the blue, red and gold belt all over the world.

In previous parts of the WBF Champions Of The Past series, we profiled former WBF Champions Johnny Nelson, Greg Haugen, Samson Dutch Boy Gym, Angel Manfredy, Carl Daniels, Ricky Parkey, Jeff Malcolm, Juan Lazcano, Jimmy Thunder, Junior Witter and Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga.

Steve Roberts may not be a world-wide household name, but the Englishman is actually one of the most successful WBF World Champions in history.


Born in the London borough of Newham in 1972, “Robbo” was an entertaining Southpaw who turned professional as a Super Welterweight at twenty-two in March 1995 on a low-key show at the Festival Hall in Basildon, Essex. On that night he won a six-round decision over experienced journeyman Julian Eavis (14-72-4).

In his first thirteen months in the paid ranks, Roberts went 8-0 (4) against less-than-frightening opposition, before his first real test came against fellow undefeated prospect George Richards (6-0) in May of 1996. Roberts beat Richards on points, and things started to look promising.

After three more wins, Roberts was matched with British-based Ghanaian Gilbert Jackson (15-2) for the vacant Southern Area title on a show jointly arranged by top-promoters Barry Hearn and Frank Maloney at “The Home Of British Boxing”, York Hall in London.

He beat Jackson on points, and after two years as a pro Roberts had won his first title and started to look for his next step towards his dream of becoming a world champion. But it would be another three years before he finally got his shot to make his mark on the big stage.

In June of 2000 Matchroom Boxing, headed by the aforementioned Barry Hearn, provided Roberts with his big chance, and at 19-0 (7), he was pitted against Belgian champion Mike Algoet (17-3) for the vacant WBF World Super Welterweight title in Bloomsbury, London, not far from his home in West Ham.

Fighting in front of a big TV audience on Sky Sports, and with loads of his supporters at ringside, Roberts grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and outboxed Algoet to win a twelve-round decision. The performance impressed Hearn and Sky so much that it would be the start of a very busy period for the new world champion.

Two months later, at the Fountain Leisure Centre in Brentwood, London, Roberts made a statement in his first title-defense by stopping Commonwealth Welterweight Champion Scott Dixon (22-2-2) in nine rounds. If there was any doubt after the Algoet victory, it was clear now that Roberts had arrived.

In December of 2000, he stopped former French champion Mohamed Hissani (12-1) in the seventh round round to retain his crown, before blowing out Argentinean Sergio Ernesto Acuna (24-4) inside the first three minutes the following March.

With three successful title-defenses in seven months, and the quick nights work against Acuna, Roberts was faced with his stiffest challenge to date in former WBC World Champion Keith Mullings (16-7-1) on April 7 2001 at the Conference Centre in Wembley, London.

Mullings had lost a split decision to Raul Marquez (27-0) for the IBF world title in 1997, but stopped Hall-Of-Famer Terry Norris (47-6) in nine rounds for the WBC belt that same year. He made one successful defense against David Ciarlante (23-0), before losing the title in early 1999 on another split decision to Javier Castillejo (43-4) in Spain.

The Jamaican-born American came up short in a shot at the WBA World title against Olympic gold medalist David Reid (13-0) in August of 1999, on points, and another Hall-Of-Famer, Ronald “Winky” Wright (40-3), also had to settle for a decision over Mullings, who by now had firmly proven himself as a world-class boxer over the last four years.

While “The Brooklyn Assassin” had lost to Marquez, Castillejo, Reid and Wright, it had been in competitive fights and none of them had been able to get rid of him inside the distance. Steve Roberts outdid them all, and destroyed Mullings in two rounds to remain WBF champion of the world!

It was no less impressive when you consider that Roberts took the fight despite the recent deaths of his father and grandmother, and only six weeks later he was back again to make his fifth world title defense with a technical decision over William Gare (15-5), when the South African suffered a badly cut left eye after a clash of heads.

In defense number six, in September of 2001, Roberts outclassed Poland’s Andrzej Butowicz (11-1) and made him retire between rounds six and seven. The year was closed out with a unanimous decision over American challenger Ronald Weaver (27-8) in November.

2002 got off to a great start with a quick defense against another American in Troy Lowry (24-2), who was stopped in round four on January 28 at the Metrodome in Barnsley. One of the busiest world champions in the sport, Roberts was soon back in the ring to defend his title less than two months later.

On January 23 he faced Quirino Garcia (32-21-1), a boxer with a spectacular story. The Mexican lost his first eighteen (!) professional bouts, before turning his career drastically around to win his country’s national title and become highly world ranked.

Having won thirty-two of his last thirty-six fights (32-3-1), Garcia was considered a real threat to Roberts, but the champion put on a top performance and won every round on one the scorecard of one judge, and eleven rounds on the two other cards.

Now established as one of the very best Super Welterweights on the planet, having convincingly defeated all comers, it was something of an upset when Roberts lost his world title in defense number ten, On July 27 2002 at the Harvey Hadden Leisure Centre in Nottingham.

With scores of 114-114, 114-115 and 111-114, he was on the short end of a majority decision to well-regarded former European champion Andrey Pestryaev (28-4) from Russia. Had only one round been scored differently, in his favor, it would have been another story, but unfortunately it would turn out to be the beginning of the end for Roberts.

After a long break from the sport, he returned in October of 2003 with a decision-victory after eight rounds over Hungarian Lorant Szabo (20-13). Less than two months later his career was over when Darren Rhodes (15-6-3) stopped him in six rounds, and he decided to retire.

Perhaps the horrid pace with eleven world title fights in just over two years took too much out of Roberts, but at the end of the day he was a very good world champion who accomplished more in that short period of time than most other boxers do in a whole career.

His final record stands at 30-2 (13), and 10-1 (6) in WBF World Championship fights.

  Part 11: Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga
  Part 10: Junior Witter
  Part 9: Jimmy Thunder
  Part 8: Juan Lazcano
  Part 7: Jeff Malcolm
  Part 6: Ricky Parkey
  Part 5: Carl Daniels
  Part 4: Angel Manfredy
  Part 3: Samson Dutch Boy Gym
  Part 2: Greg Haugen
  Part 1: Johnny Nelson
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