The early 1980s saw Tim Witherspoon’s career skyrocket rapidly as he won the NABF Heavyweight title and the WBC World title back-to-back. He would lose the title in his first defense to Pinklon Thomas but career resilience would see him bounce back once again to defend the NABF title he still possessed.
WBA World Champion
It was still early in Witherspoon’s career, too early to count him out. He rallied back with back-to-back victories in March and April 1985, retaining his NABF title in a second-round KO over James Broad in the latter match.
His next defense of the title would be against a vicious Bonecrusher Smith. A powerful knockout artist with a good deal of stamina, he had come up short in his shot at the IBF Heavyweight title in November 1984. It would be the first time Larry Holmes stopped him.
The match against Witherspoon would be another loss but not an easy win for the NABF champion. After 12 rounds, Witherspoon walked out with a unanimous decision victory but it wouldn’t be the last time the two clashed.
Following two back-to-back warm-up matches in the fall of 1985, Tim Witherspoon was scheduled to face Tony Tubbs for the WBA championship in January 1986. The match was another where Witherspoon went the distance against his opponent. After 15 rounds, he took the WBA title via majority decision. In July, Witherspoon defended the title against future World Heavyweight champion, Frank Bruno via a TKO in 11 rounds.
The win marked the first time Witherspoon was able to defend a World title successfully. His next defense would come at the end of 1986 against the man that gave him his 21st win, Bonecrusher Smith. The champion was considered the favorite and Smith would’ve been an easy win for him.
This bout would be dramatically different from their first encounter with Smith knocking Witherspoon out in just over two minutes in the first round. The match was a textbook upset.
Late Career of Tim Witherspoon
After almost a year off to train, Tim Witherspoon mounted a comeback. While dealing with a lawsuit against promoter Don King, he went on an eight-match winning streak before winning the USBA Heavyweight title in 1991. After twelve matches, he suffered his fourth career loss to Everett Martin in July 1992.
Witherspoon won a $1 million settlement against King in 1993. During this time, he was in the start of his last long-stretch winning streak. Between 1992 and 1996 he racked up eight wins—most by TKO. After a string of losses between 1997 and 1999, he came back in February 2000 and wouldn’t lose in six matches.
“Terrible” Tim Witherspoon would end his career in 2003, his 69th and final match being a back-to-back loss. After hanging up the gloves and putting away the boots, he began training boxers including his own son. His career record stands at 55-13-1 and 38 KOs.
-vs. Frank Bruno: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG9G3zN48g0