FRANK BRUNO’S legacy should be rewritten following the new documentary chronicling his two-fight rivalry with Mike Tyson.
The 59-year-old Brit was unashamedly beaten twice by the Baddest Man on the Planet and stopped by heavyweight boxing’s last undisputed king Lennox Lewis.
Thanks to KO defeats to underrated dangermen James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith and Tim Witherspoon, Bruno’s reputation was one of a nearly man who always choked at the final hurdle.
But unlike some of the sport’s most revered hard men – like Roberto Duran and Sonny Liston – Bruno never quit a fight and was always stopped by the ref or his corner when a brutal shot had robbed him of his senses.
And hall-of-fame promoter Frank Warren – who promoted the tear-soaked 1995 world title win at Bruno’s fourth attempt – hopes the new generation of fight fans now see Bruno for the hero he really was.
"Frank got a horrible amount of stick, some from boxing fans and some from other fighters, and he seemed to take it all to heart," Warren told SunSport ahead of his Saturday night BT Sport show.
"But hold his record up now, go back and watch those defeats – where he was hurt but refused to take a knee or didn’t know the tricks of the trade to buy some recovery time – and you will see a great fighter.
"I never wanted to go back and watch those losses, they were conclusive and painful for Frank, but it’s easy to forget the punishment he took and how he was too proud to fall over and take a count."
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Mischievously, Tyson Fury’s co-promoter added: "If Frank was around now I would fancy him to beat Anthony Joshua.
"Frank was a big bloke, with a good jab and he could bang. His chin was a bit suspect but we know that so is Joshua’s. It would be very hard to split them."
Bruno had a booming right hand that earned him 38 of his 40 wins inside the distance but his own punch resistance was his painful downfall.
Dark arts like hitting-and-holding and spoiling a bout never came naturally to South London’s gentle giant.
But eventually he did beat American Oliver McCall for the famous green and gold belt in one of the most iconic – and tear-soaked – nights in British boxing history, that ranks right at the top of Warren’s finest achievements.
"When Frank was hit on the button his whole body went rigid, his hands dropped and his legs stiffened up," Warren remembered, "But hardly anyone could survive prime Tyson in those early rounds.
"We took him to watch Oliver McCall beat a very old Larry Holmes in Las Vegas in his first defence and hatched our plan at ringside there and then.
"When Frank finally got that win back at Wembley Stadium, over the full distance with a lot of his contemporaries ringside, it was wonderful because he had been through the mill.
"When his arm was lifted, the whole place went crazy and we had fireworks for him, it was very emotional.
"We booked an open-top to parade around London for the next day and of course it p***** down with rain but everyone still came out to see Frank, it was brilliant."
Tommy Fury returns to the ring live on Saturday 27th February, 7.30pm on BT Sport 1 HD
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