Boxing: Bruno pummels stiff opposition: Ken Jones witnesses victory No 37. Like many that went before, it was as predictable as it was pointless

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The Independent Online
IT SAYS something about the life and times of Frank Bruno that his 41st professional opponent, the portly American import, Jesse Ferguson, proved to be as feeble as his first.

Twelve years but a day on from the launch of his professional career that has seen three failed attempts at winning at least a version of the world heavyweight championship, Bruno achieved his 37th victory so easily that he was on his way home after 2min 27sec of the first round. Memory does not provide a clear image of Lupe Guerra who became Bruno's first victim when he, too, was stopped in one round, but he could not have been more grotesquely inadequate than Ferguson who entered the ring seven pounds heavier than at any time in his career and displaying not a flicker of ambition once the bell rang.

The presence at ringside of the American promoter, Bob Arum, suggests that we can expect an attempt to rehabilitate Bruno as a challenger in the heavyweight division but nothing that happened at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham could provide any clues as to the British hero's future.

The loss to Lennox Lewis for the World Boxing Council title in Cardiff last October confirmed Bruno's limitations against the more imposing figures heavyweight boxing has got to offer so no great hope can be held out for him in what is surely the final phase of his career.

However, there was plenty of enthusiasm in the audience even if the attendance barely topped 3,000, an indication that the public have come to recognise the big man's limitations. Those who took the trouble justifiably jeered the American when the referee, John Coyle, called a halt to proceedings after Ferguson had been down twice.

Apart from two wild right hands that were more of a threat to the ring lights than Bruno's head, the American did not show any aggression and was on the back foot from the moment that Bruno began to ram out his ponderous but heavy left jab.

It was quickly evident that the contest would not last more than a few rounds even if Ferguson was able to weather the storm, the jabs and powerful right hooks that Bruno landed on a target as stationary as the ring itself. As a test to determine how well Bruno had recovered from the punishment he took in Cardiff it proved nothing at all.

Of course Bruno lands heavy blows, of course he is capable of hurting even the best heavyweights as he proved when wobbling Mike Tyson with a left hook. But Bruno's failing is when he has to take heavy head punches that, on the important occasions, have left him helpless and unable to continue.

Ferguson was totally incapable of putting Bruno under any sort of pressure and looked as poor as he did when Riddick Bowe defeated him in the second round for the World Boxing Association title, a contest that was widely ridiculed in the United States.

Bruno said: 'I'm glad to get that out of the way as a lot of people had thought Ferguson might take me six or seven rounds. I played it cool before the fight and saved my emotions for the ring.' It is puzzling to think what emotion Bruno was referring to.

Doubtless, there will now be talk of matching Bruno with the winner of next Saturday's contest between Michael Bentt and Herbie Hide for the ridiculed World Boxing Organisation title and perhaps even a contest against the 46-year-old former champion George Foreman. In any event, this contest proved only that if you put Bruno in the ring with a stiff he is guaranteed to knock him over.

(Photograph omitted)