Dokes loses his final battle
The man who lost the WBA heavyweight title to Gerrie Coetzee almost 30 years ago, has died at the age of 54.
Michael Dokes passed away last weekend, only days after his birthday.
He died in Akron, Ohio, the city where he was born on August 10, 1958 and close to Richfield, where he lost his title to Coetzee. He had been suffering from liver cancer.
Dokes was the American amateur heavyweight champion in 1975. The next year he became the Golden Gloves champion by beating future world champions John Tate and Greg Page.
He also won a silver medal at the 1975 Pan American Games, losing on a split decision to Cuban superstar Teofilio Stevenson, who died recently.
Dokes turned professional in 1976 and became a popular draw-card and a leading title contender when he defeated veteran Jimmy Young in 1979.
In 1982 he won the NABF title by knocking out Lynn Ball in the first round. In December the same year won the WBA heavyweight title when he stopped Mike Weaver in the first round.
Referee Joey Curtis’s decision to stop the fight was so controversial that the WBA ordered a rematch. Dokes retained the title on a majority draw.
However, his reign as champion was short. South African Gerrie Coetzee knocked him out in the tenth round of a fight at the Richfield Coliseum on September 23, 1983.
In March 1989, Dokes was stopped in the tenth round by future heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield in what was described as the best heavyweight fight of the year.
He was also stopped in the first round by Riddick Bowe in 1993 in a challenge for the WBA and IBF heavyweight belts.
After losing to Paul Phillips on October 11 in 1997, Dokes retired with a professional record of 53-6-2, including 34 knockouts. Most experts felt he never realised his potential.
Dokes got into trouble with the law towards the end of his career and was arrested in Las Vegas in 1986 for cocaine trafficking. He served two years under probation.
In 2000 he was sentenced to ten years in jail after pleading guilty to charges of attempted murder, second-degree kidnapping and intent to commit sexual assault. He was released in 2008.