Politics aside, the WBA heavyweight title fight that took place 42 years ago this week (October 25, 1980) between title holder Mike Weaver and challenger Gerrie Coetzee was a good joke. Of course, many people were very happy that there should not be a fight between black and black South Africans in South Africa, at this time of the apartheid crisis, but as a boxing match and no one else. thing not, Weaver-Coetzee was. something for all lovers to please.
In spurts, at least.
Weaver, an ex-Marine with nine losses on his record, shocked his fans with a showdown against WBC chairman Larry Holmes in 1979, and “Hercules” wrested the WBA heavyweight crown from John Tate (who beat Coetzee in in) South Africa to take the WBA belt) in March of 1980 – this one with a powerful hook, close to the jaw that destroyed “Big John” with seconds left on the clock in the 15th round.
Weaver was defending his first title against Coetzee; the man called the “bionic right hand.” Coetzee has the only points loss to Tate on his record, and before that, in 1979, Gerrie made a name for himself by destroying Leon Spinks in one round. Perhaps, fans thought, Coetzee really did have bionic batting powers.
Against Weaver, with the crowd roaring him on in the Super Bowl stadium in Sun City, Coetzee made another quick run. Coming out hard and fast, Coetzee managed to break through the post’s notoriously slow start with some great walls. Weaver looked surprised, but managed to return fire. An interesting slugfest was witnessed. Provisional. Coetzee, unable to get his man out, eased up after the second round (this one also featured an impressive flurry of punches from both sides), and the challenger began to rock Weaver, holding him down and struggling. .
There was still a rough exchange, but Coetzee was clearly trying to win the rough. But then the big action continued in the eighth, when Coetzee hit Weaver with a big right hand, the defending champion hit the ropes. Coetzee came alive, dropping everything he could in an effort to end the fight. Weaver looked like he was about to leave, but he held on and managed to get himself back. It was a great round. It was also Coetzee’s last chance to win.
Weaver faced more wrestling from Coetzee in the next few rounds, with Weaver also managing to open a nasty cut on the opponent’s nose in the 11th. Then, in a round of bad luck, Weaver tried to eliminate his opponent. A weaving right hand lands home, as do some body shots, and Coetzee backs away. To his credit, Coetzee more than stood his ground and tried to land some damage on Weaver. But Weaver connected with a right hand bomb, the blow landed on Coetzee’s jaw. Coetzee tried to get up but was counted out as he was on his knees.
The fans have certainly been given their money’s worth, and the fight is worth watching today. Weaver KO13 Coetzee is not normal, yet it boasts, at times, some particularly violent moments.
Weaver would lose his belt to Mike Dokes the following year (being suspended in controversial fashion). Coetzee would beat Dokes in 1983, becoming the champion for the third time in question.
Coetzee is said to be getting his silver screen treatment soon. Weaver’s fight will definitely feature in the movie.