However, he became embroiled in the game's political machinations, and was only able to make three successful defences in the next three years, before being stripped of the title. He never regained it, failing in three attempts.
His charismatic personality and quickfire Liverpudlian wit made him an engaging figure on the 1970s London social scene. With acting and advertising opportunities beckoning, he seemed poised for a prosperous retirement.
However, a failed restaurant enterprise brought him to earth. 'It was a fast-food business, but instead of the hamburgers moving the money went instead,' he said.
He continues to act - most recently appearing in Blood Brothers - and has established a reputation as an outstanding after-dinner speaker. A playboy no longer, the 41-year-old lives in London with his wife and two children.
'I've got a lot of good memories from boxing, but too many fighters, like me, end up losing their money,' he said. 'It's a game where you can be abused. I wouldn't let my boy go into it.'
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content