Back in the day: The Irish News July 14 1997: Herol Graham's astonishing stoppage of unbeaten and allegedly world-class Canadian Chris Johnson

The McKenna brothers, from left, Stephen, Gary and Aaron with dad Fergal and former British and European middleweight champion Herol 'Bomber' Graham

It was supposed to be a case of ‘out with the old in with the new’ at Olympia on Saturday night.

European superbantamweight champion Spencer Oliver kept his side of the bargain by retaining his title on points against French challenger Serge Poilblan.

But 37-year-old Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham tore up the form book – and the pension plans – with an astonishing eighth round stoppage of the previously unbeaten and allegedly world-class Canadian Chris Johnson.

Such was the magnitude of Graham’s win, the third of a middleweight comeback under Frank Maloney, that when his thoughts inevitably turned to another world title shot, it didn’t sound like such a bad idea after all.

Graham is often named the unluckiest man in British boxing – a supreme talent who would have won multiple titles in another era, but who, as it happens, had to settle for two agonising near-misses against Mike McCallum (1989) and Julian Jackson (1990).

On Saturday, hardy Graham rolled back those years, in turns being elusive, firing in shots from all angles, and most incredibly of all even opting to slug it out toe-totoe with a renowned puncher – and still coming out on top.


RONAN Rafferty could miss out on a British Open appearance at Troon this week after firing a 73 during the first round of qualifying yesterday.

And fellow Irishmen Philip Walton and Des Smyth face a similarly onerous task after carding a 74 and 72 respectively. Christy O’Connor jnr withdrew from the competition after a 77.

The former Ryder Cup hero said: “I haven’t been feeling well over the past couple of days.

“I ate a corned beef sandwich and I think that’s to blame. I feel I have a touch of food poisoning.”

The Irishman’s round included a quadruple-bogey seven on the 196- yard seventh, where he had two fresh air shots, going clean under the ball as it lay tangled in the rough.


THE Northern Ireland Karate-Do Wado-Kai (NIKW) excelled in the Kobe Osaka International Sixth World Cup held in Zadar, Croatia, this weekend.

The victorious team lifted eight medals over the two days of competition which attracted entries from 16 countries.

Glittering gold went to Antrim’s Gary Patterson in the male Kata (form) while Belfast’s Boyd Slater took a silver medal in the same category.

In the female sector Kata Violet Brown from Ballywalter also took a silver. In the Kumite (free fighting) Stephen Wright from Belfast lifted bronze while David Patterson from Antrim took a silver in the boys event.

David went on to replace his brother Gary in the male team Kata event and along with Boyd and Stephen took second place with another three silver medals.


MAYO’S Colm McManamon will miss the Connacht Senior Football Final for his part in the incident which marred the semi-final win over Leitrim.

McManamon received a two-month ban from the Connacht Council which read the letter of the law to offenders.

Leitrim’s Gerry Flanagan, also sent-off in the semi-final, will be sidelined for six months. Flanagan was found guilty of striking Mayo boss John Maughan.

The Aughawillan clubman will return to championship duty next year but his suspension means he will miss several National League games.

Team-mate Joe Honeyman was singled out by council officials using video evidence of the fracas and received a one month suspension.

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