Print this article
World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Wayne Rigby
                                            Bookmark and Share


FEATURE   Photo: Former World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Light Welterweight Champion Wayne Rigby.

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 the Champions Of The Past Series we take a closer look at some of the boxers who held WBF titles in years gone by, from lesser known champions to world renowned fighters, legends of the sport and current or future Hall of Famers.


...I cant help but feel bitter. After the fights I have had, I should be financially set up, and it does my head in...”

Such were the words of former WBF World Light Welterweight Champion Wayne Rigby, in a newspaper interview shortly after retiring in 2004, only thirty-one years old but disillusioned with the financial part and politics of professional boxing.

But even if he didn't make the money he had hoped to make, Rigby accomplished more than most. In a twelve-year professional career, the highs were many, but set-backs and disappointments were also a regular thing, as if often the case for boxers willing to take on all comers.

From the boxing tradition-rich city of Manchester, where he was born in the summer of 1973, his crowd-pleasing fighting-style made him popular with pundits and fans, who appreciated his willingness to do things the hard way.

He turned pro with iconic manager Mickey Duff, but lost his debut, on points to Lee Fox (6-9-1) at the Everton Sports Centre in February of 1992. Three years later, a mediocre 6-3 (1) record didn't suggest that Rigby would eventually become a championship caliber boxer.

However, hard work and determination eventually paid off! While fights didn't come as regularly as he would have preferred, he changed management a couple of times, six straight victories between May of 1995 and March of 1997 made him someone to pay serious attention to on the British domestic scene.

Impressive defeats of Hugh Collins (11-1) and Alan Bosworth (8-0-1), and taking the Central Area Lightweight title from Jimmy Phelan (4-6), landed him a shot at the vacant British title against Tanveer Ahmed (18-1-2), a tricky Southpaw from Glasgow, in January of 1998.

In the headlining fight of a show staged at the legendary York Hall in London, and televised live by Sky Sports, Rigby was very much the underdog going in. With three losses in fifteen bouts, all against opponents with unimpressive records, the Manchester-man wasn't expected to be able to handle Ahmed´s skills.

But, as the fight wore on it became clear that the favorite had his hands full, that Rigby had his own ideas, and that an upset could be in the making. After twelve tough rounds, Wayne Rigby was crowned the new British Champion by a close, but deserved, 115-114 score from referee Larry O´Connell.

London-promoter Frank Maloney quickly arranged a title-defense, and less than three months later Rigby returned to the English capital and retained his championship by stopping Matt Brown (10-2) in eight rounds at the Elephant & Castle Centre.

In what was supposed to be something of a home-coming fight, Rigby lost the British title on October 17, 1998, at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester, to the very talented Bobby Vanzie (11-0-1). The Bradford boxer was just too slick and flashy for Rigby, who was stopped in the tenth round.

He returned with a fourth-round stoppage of the decent Mark McGowan (7-4), but then made the mistake of taking a fight on short notice against journeyman Alan Temple (10-10), which he unexpectedly lost on points after eight rounds.

Rigby, clearly the better fighter, knocked Temple down in the second round, but then ran out of gas as a result of inefficient training and dropping weight too quickly. It was a damaging loss for him, and one that could have meant the end to his hopes of boxing for meaningful titles again.

At this point it would have been easy to spiral into becoming a gate-keeper himself, making decent pay-days off the back of being a former British champion. But Rigby still had ambitions, and the most significant part of his career was still ahead of him.

Eager to get back on track, Rigby returned in a grudge-match against Manchester rival Mark Haslam (8-4-1) three months later, in December of 1999. Haslam had proved his durability by going the distance with then prospects Gary Hibbert and Colin Lynes in his two previous outings, but Rigby stopped him in three.

In his next fight he got a chance to win the vacant IBO Intercontinental Lightweight title against Polish Olympian Dariusz Snarski (8-3-1), and did so convincingly by eighth round TKO. That led to a hastily arranged crack at IBO World Champion Michael Ayers (28-3-1) on July 1, 2000.

Fighting in his hometown, at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre, Rigby was confident going in, but, while in decent shape, had little time to prepare for the style of Ayers. The defending champion was a heavy favorite, but he was in for a grueling night.

Rigby came out all guns blazing and gave as good as he got in the first half of the fight. He was floored in round six, but hurt and nearly knocked Ayers out with a left hook in round eight. Unfortunately the challenger had nothing left after that, and was forced to retire in the tenth.

The fight was such a barn-burner, receiving several fight-of-the-year awards, that the demand for a rematch was loud and consistent. So, six months later they did it again, this time on Ayers´ home turf, at Wembley Arena in London.

With better time to prepare, Rigby went the full distance in the rematch and again it was an all-out brawl. Ayers won by close decision (115-113, 115-113, 116-113), but Rigby made a clear statement that he was nowhere near finished and belonged at world level.

Hungry for more, Rigby bounced back the following July with a routine third round victory over Keith Jones (7-52-6). TV executives liked his style and acknowledged his popularity, which didn't hurt his chances of landing another big fight on television.

With SKY Sports broadcasting, that big fight came sooner rather than later, as Rigby was pitted against extremely tough USA-based Dominican Antonio “Caña Seca” Ramirez (18-3-6) for the vacant WBF World Light Welterweight title on November 26, 2001 at the Wythenshawe Forum in Manchester.

Having come close against Ayers, Rigby was as motivated as can be, and entered the fight well-prepared for another hard night at the office. Ramirez had his share of success, but after a typical Wayne Rigby-performance Manchester had a new world champion.

I started the first couple of rounds and I thought “if it stays like this I’ll be ok”. But then in the third round he came out throwing everything at me! That was a tough fight”, explains Rigby.

The judges scored the fight unanimously in his favor, 117-113, 116-113 and 117-113, clearly pleasing the loud throng of fans supporting their hero from ringside. With lessons learned from his two previous world championship opportunities, it was third time´s a charm for Rigby.

French Champion Sedat Puskullu (20-9-1) was not considered an easy first defense for Rigby on March 9, 2002 in Manchester. Born in Turkey, Puskullu had won his last five outings and came to the United Kingdom to relieve the Mancunian of his world title belt less than four months after he won it.

None of the boxers were considered big punchers, so another long, grueling affair seemed to be on the cards, but against all expectations it was over very quickly. Rigby stopped Puskullu in the opening stanza, and retained his WBF World Light Welterweight title in style.

Still fresh from a quick nights work, Rigby accepted to move down in weight, to Lightweight, for a fight only two months later against another world class Britt in Colin Dunne (36-1). Sharing the bill with the legendary Naseem Hamed, it turned out to be a disastrous move.

Rigby explained what happened to Undisputed Fight Magazine a few years ago:

I’d always wanted to fight Colin Dunne, for years before we met in the ring. I was massively up for the fight and was ready for us to have a tear up. I got in superb shape for the fight, I was already 9st 9lbs (135 lbs) for several days before the weigh-in.”

I went around to my friend Michael Brodie’s hotel room and I jumped on his scales. I was 9st 11lbs (137 lbs). I said “Mike, your scales are wrong”. He said “no they’re not mate, you know what I’m like with my weight”.

So, with the weigh-in the next day, I put my tracksuit on and headed for the sauna. I stepped on the scales at the official weigh-in and I was 9st 7lbs (133 lbs)! I was completely weight-drained, in the fight Dunne must have thought he’d hit the jackpot. I couldn’t watch the fight in full afterwards I knew I’d messed up and been beaten while weakened.”

Still World Champion at Light Welterweight, Rigby took some time off before entering training camp for his second title-defense. November 9, 2002 in Altrincham was the date and place, and again he was featured on Sky Sports.

The man in the opposite corner, Gary Ryder (9-0), still only an up-start but considered a bright hope for the future, really rose to the occasion as he took the WBF title from Rigby by unanimous decision (116-113, 116-113, 117-113).

The Gary Ryder fight really bugged me”. Rigby told Undisputed Fight Magazine. “I had fair notice to the fight and I’d seen Gary fight a couple of times. He was a former body-builder but I thought he looked so beatable, I thought I’d beat him easily.”

Anyway, my trainer Bob Shannon didn’t get me sparring for the fight. I was a lot younger back then and I let him intimidate me, so I didn’t make a big deal about the lack of sparring. Three days before the fight Bob says I have to spar.”

I did twelve rounds back-to-back with three 11 stone (154 lb) fighters and they absolutely beat the shit out of me. I never got over it by the time I got into the ring with Ryder. I was throwing punches and they were little taps, not full bloodied shots. Gary must have thought I was taking the piss hitting him like that!”

The Gary Rider fight was the last big one for Wayne Rigby. It would be eighteen months before he returned, and he was not what he used to be. So, at the Midlands Hotel in Manchester, he lost on points over ten rounds to Tony Montana (12-15-3).

Five months after that he dropped another decision, to Roger Sampson (8-2), and after four straight losses, two against opponents he should have beaten easily, it was time to call it a day for Wayne Rigby. A fine career was over, but unfortunately a lot of bitterness remains.

I told Ayers after the fight (the rematch) what I was earning and he was shocked, he was making £95,000! My official purse (I was told) was £15,000, but after expenses it came to only £8k. Many years later I saw the contract and it said my purse was meant to be £75,000. It made me think, “how much more money did I lose over the years?”

I was a British champion earning £3,000 a fight, living in a little, tiny room. All the fights I had, I boxed for over 20 years, the titles I won, and I’m now working twelve-hour shifts just to make a living. My managers have a lot to answer for.”

Managers are so tight, they take all the rewards, none of them care about the fighters. I’ve got nothing now; I still have to graft just to get by. I was a professional fighter to the core; every fight I trained so hard for.”

There were some fights I suffered terrible facial damage in and it really upsets me I’ve nothing to show for any of it...”

Wayne Rigby´s final record stands at 20-11 (9), having won Central Area, British, IBO Intercontinental and WBF World titles. No matter how bitter and frustrated he turned out to be at the game, and probably rightfully so, he did very well when it comes to accomplishments.

  Part 47: Jesus Chong
  Part 46: Renata Szebeledi
  Part 45: Lester Ellis
  Part 44: Patrick Vungbo
  Part 43: Patrick Washington
  Part 42: Ric Siodora
  Part 41: Guy Waters
  Part 40: Natascha Ragosina
  Part 39: Nicky Cook
  Part 38: Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym
  Part 37: Felix Camacho
  Part 36: Homer Gibbins
  Part 35: Joe Bugner
  Part 34: Myriam Lamare
  Part 33: Darrin Morris
  Part 32: Suwito Lagola
  Part 31: Aaron Zarate
  Part 30: Tommy Small
  Part 29: Matthew Charleston
  Part 28: Jane Couch
  Part 27: Fahlan Sakkreerin
  Part 26: Kenny Keene
  Part 25: Yvan Mendy
  Part 24: Ronnie Magramo
  Part 23: Randall Yonker
  Part 22: Holly Holm
  Part 21: Vinnie Curto
  Part 20: Robin Reid
  Part 19: Lionel Butler
  Part 18: Mads Larsen
  Part 17: Ken Sigurani
  Part 16: Orlando Fernandez
  Part 15: Roger Turner
  Part 14: Roy Jones Jr.
  Part 13: Fitz Vanderpool
  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

| HOME |













Copyright © wbf -  all rights reserved     |     world boxing federation     |     |     webdesign by f.j.e.e.k. 2009     |