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Brian London "The Blackpool Rock" dies aged 87

Former British Heavyweight champion who faced Ali for the world title dies. (Photo Getty Images)

The former British heavyweight champion Brian London, has died aged 87. London who twice challenged unsuccessfully for the world heavyweight title: first when he was stopped in 11 rounds by Floyd Patterson in 1959, and again seven years later when he was knocked out in the third round by Muhammad Ali, known then as Cassius Clay, at Earl’s Court in London.

Years later, London would famously joke when asked about Ali's deteriorating health “Don’t blame me, I never laid a glove on him!”

London was a tough bruiser of a fighter, his nose was testament to that; flattened and broken on numerous occasions

However, London was good enough to have defeated the talented Joe Erskine in 1958, winning by eighth-round knockout victory to claim the British and Commonwealth titles.

Adopting the nickname of The Blackpool Rock, London, along with Henry Cooper, Erskine and Dick Richardson dominated British heavyweight boxing for much of the 1950s and 60s.

Although his record shows 20 losses out of his 58 paid contests, he will be best remembered for fighting with success for more than a decade and for sharing the ring with four world champions.

The good old British Boxing Board of Control (clearly as useless then as they are now) believed that due to London’s loss to Cooper for the British title meaning he was no longer Britain’s No 1, refused to give their formal consent for a fight against Patterson for the world title. This did not deter London who went ahead anyway, facing Patterson in Indianapolis, USA in May 1959. London was eventually knocked out in the 11th round. The British Boxing Board officially rebuked him and issued a fine. London who showed not a care in the world at the fine, responded that he had been paid $75,000 – the highest fee of his career – adding: “That’s more than I have earned in four years of professional boxing in Britain. I’m boxing for security"

Brian London 19th June 1934 - 23rd June 2021

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