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World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Fitz Vanderpool

Posted on January 6 2015                                              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, Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga and Steve Roberts.


2015 kicks off with a profile of the career of Canadian Fitz “The Whip” Vanderpool, who won WBF titles at both Welterweight and Super Welterweight during a remarkable career.

  
  
  

His birth name being Fitzroy Carter, Fitz Vanderpool was born on November 3 1967 in Trinidad & Tobago. The middle child of five boys, he moved with his family to Kitchener, Ontario in Canada in 1972.

All brothers, including future two-time world title-challenger Syd, eventually started boxing, and learned from their father John and legendary local trainer Arnie Boehm, the man who trained Heavyweight legend Lennox Lewis throughout his entire amateur career.

However, by 1984 none of the Vanderpool boys were still in the sport, having found other interests for the time being. But in 1988, inspired by watching the bouts from the Seoul Olympic Games on TV, a 20-year-old Fitz decided to get back in the gym and took aim at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

After four years of hard training and fighting at the highest level in Canada, Vanderpool came close to reaching his goal. Two victories over the Canadian champion was required to get the Olympic spot in his weight class, but Fitz only managed to win the first of two bouts.

With his dreams of representing Canada in Barcelona shattered, Vanderpool decided to turn professional shortly after winning the 1993 Canadian amateur championships. He made his debut on January 30 of that year, stopping fellow first-timer Valentino Cruz in two rounds on a small show in Chelsea, Massachusetts, USA.

Six weeks later, younger sibling (by five years) Syd also entered the paid ranks, and the fighting brothers each had their third professional outings on the same card, April 9 1993 in Whitman, Massachusetts, both winning by knockout inside two rounds.

After less than four months as a pro, Fitz was 4-0 (4) when he stepped in the ring with future contender Reggie Green (7-0) in Atlantic City, and lost a unanimous decision. In fact, despite the good start he had, by July of 1995 it didn’t look as if Vanderpool would amount to much as a professional fighter.

In January of 1994 he had to settle for a draw with Keith Thomas (7-2) in Georgetown, Guyana, an opponent a future world champion would be expected to beat handily. Thomas went 6-11-3 in his next twenty bouts. Vanderpool did rebound well and won six straight to earn a crack at the vacant Canadian Light Welterweight title.

His opponent would be another novice in Nigerian-born Moses James (6-0-1), and in June of 1995 Vanderpool was knocked down in round eight en-route to a twelve round split decision loss at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto.

A month later Fitz was knocked out in six rounds by former IBF world champion Charles Murray (33-3) in Rochester, New York, and at twenty-seven years of age and with a modest 11-3-1 record, it looked as if he was heading nowhere. But nine months later, everything changed.

In April 1996, clearly the underdog and expected to merely be a stepping-stone, Vanderpool climbed off the canvas in the first round to stop undefeated prospect Tony “Bad Boy” Badea (12-0) in round six to claim the Canadian Welterweight title.

 

In October 1997 he defended the Canadian title with a split decision over Ron Pasek (7-5-2), and again six months later in a rematch with the vacant WBF Intercontinental Welterweight title also on the line, although this time the verdict was unanimous.

Seven months on he returned to the USA and added the WBC Fecarbox trinket to his collection when he outpointed Mexican journeyman Javier Francisco Mendez (11-13) in the main event of a show at the Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona.

While that victory didn’t give him many headlines in the worlds sports pages, it got him ready for his biggest opportunity so far, in January 1999, as he was matched with world class operator Ray Oliveira (33-7), a tough and colorful fighter who had twice lost on points for world championships.

Fighting in Oliveira´s backyard, the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut, Vanderpool proved that he had developed into a world class fighter himself, surviving two knockdowns to rally back and get a draw after ten rounds, with many ringsiders feeling he should have gotten the victory.

Drawing with, some would say beating, Oliveira put Fitz Vanderpool on the map, and he was awarded with a shot at the WBF World Super Welterweight title on April 14 2000 against American Stephan Johnson (25-7-1) in Toronto. Knowing that this was a chance of a life-time, Vanderpool didn’t let it go to waste!

Johnson came to win, and showed he too had nice skills, but Vanderpool would not be denied. With family and friends cheering him on, he took everything his opponent had to offer, and eventually knocked Johnson out cold in round eleven, ending the fight so conclusively that the man from Queens was taken from the ring on a stretcher.

(Tragically, this would not be the last time Johnson was forced to leave a boxing ring this way. Seven months later, having won twice since the defeat to Vanderpool, he died in hospital after collapsing in the tenth round of a fight against Paul Vaden, due to a bleeding on the brain. He was only thirty-one years old.

Vanderpool didn’t realize his dream of fighting in the Olympics, but he had now realized his other dream, that of becoming a professional world champion. Syd was making his own waves, and had complied a 25-1 ledger by this time, closing in on his own world title opportunity, so things were looking bright for the Vanderpool´s.

On September 23 1999, Vanderpool successfully defended his WBF world title in a battle with plenty of local pride also at stake when he scored a unanimous decision over fellow Ontarian, Bryon Mackie (15-4), at the Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario.

It was a good fight, and both champion and challenger had their moments, but after twelve rounds the judges scored the fight clearly in favor of Vanderpool, with tallies of 116-113, 116-112 and a too wide 118-110. Mackie lobbied for a rematch, and was given one one April 4 the following year.

The second go-around, also Vanderpool´s second WBF world title-defense, was another competitive affair with ups and downs for both boxers. Again it went the full distance, and when the scores were announced at the Royal Oak Hotel in Toronto, Vanderpool had retained his crown by split decision.

Due to various reasons, there would not be a third defense for Vanderpool, as a long spell of inactivity followed and the title was declared vacant and won by Englishman Steve Roberts. Fitz returned to the ring almost a year later, beating Colombian Rosember Palacios (17-10-3), but would never again fight for world honors.

He continued to fight and win against second tier opposition, until a high profile HBO televised bout with former IBF & WBA world champion “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas (22-2) on July 26 2003 at the legendary Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Vanderpool was stopped in round six by Vargas, and went on to lose his next two fights as well, to Marco Antonio Rubio (25-1-1) and Marco Antonio Avendano (19-4-1), before retiring in the summer of 2005.

But amazingly, Vanderpool was not still not completely done. Seven years later, only a couple of months shy of his 45th birthday, he returned to the ring and beat Phil Rose (4-1) on points over six rounds at the Sleeman Centre in Guelp, Ontario.

Six months after the comeback fight, he was awarded a shot at the vacant Canadian Middleweight title, and won a unanimous decision over Roberto McLellan (6-1-1) to become the oldest Canadian champion in history. But his “Indian Summer” in the ring would soon come to an end.

Three months after defeating McLellan, Vanderpool attempted to also win a Canadian title at Super Welterweight, but was overwhelmed and stopped in the first round by Brandon Cook (9-0), forcing the veteran back into retirement after 38 pro fights over more than twenty years.

His final record stands at 26-8-4 (13), but Vanderpool has kept busy since hanging up the gloves. He is the owner of Vanderpool Fitness & Boxing, is an International Fire Safety Ambassador, and makes inspirational speeches at schools. In 2008 he was inducted into the Waterloo County Hall of Fame.

 
 
 
 
   Archive
  Part 12: Steve Roberts
  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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