Matthew Saad Muhammad on Art Fennell Reports

August 20, 20120 Comments

Art Fennell interviews former heavyweight great Matthew Saad Muhammad, spokesperson for RHD’s “Knock Out Homelessness” campaign to benefit organizations working to end homelessness in Philadelphia

Matthew Saad Muhammad (born Maxwell Antonio Loach, June 16, 1954) is a former boxer who was the world’s light heavyweight champion.

Saad Muhammad’s mother died when he was an infant,[1] and he and his elder brother were sent to live with an aunt. When he was five, his aunt could not afford to look after both of them and she instructed Saad Muhammad’s brother to get rid of him.

His brother took him to Philadelphia‘s Benjamin Franklin Parkway and then ran away. Saad Muhammad was taken in by Catholic Social Services. The nunsgave him the name Matthew Franklin (after the saint and the parkway where he was found).

Matthew lived in foster care until a couple from Philadelphia adopted him, raised him, and took care of him like he was their own.[2]

Saad Muhammad was very popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s among boxing fans because of his particularly action-oriented style. Saad Muhammad was known for his ability to take punishment and mount comebacks, and because of this, he was nicknamed Miracle Matthew.

Saad Muhammad was also part of a group of world light heavyweight champions who became Muslims and changed their names during his era as a Light-Heavyweight, the others being Eddie Mustafa Muhammad (born as Eddie Gregory), andDwight Muhammad Qawi (born as Dwight Braxton).

Saad Muhammad began to box professionally in 1974, with a second-round knockout win against Billy Early. He posted seven more wins that year, before suffering his first loss, at the hands of Wayne McGee by a decision in six.

In 1975, he had two wins and then he and McGee fought again, that time around, resulting in a six round draw. In 1976, Saad Muhammad had a major step up in opponent quality: He faced future world champions Marvin Camel and Mate Parlov, both of them twice.

His first fight with Parlov, in Milan, was also his first fight abroad. He beat Parlov by an eight-round decision. He then beat Camel by a ten round decision, but lost to him by a ten round decision in a rematch. After returning to Italy for a rematch with Parlov, he and Parlov struggled to a ten round draw.

He began 1977 by losing to Mustafa Muhammad (then Gregory), but he quickly turned things around by facing the future three time world champion Marvin Johnson, for the United States Light-Heavyweight title. In his first national television exposure, Saad Muhammad ended up winning by a knockout in round 12, obtaining the regional championship. Shortly after becoming champion, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Matthew Saad Muhammad.

In 1978, the wins kept on coming: He won all four of his bouts that year and defended the United States title against former world title challenger Richie Kates and against four time world title challenger Yaqui López. The Lopez fight, their first of two, was considered a classic by boxing experts, and Saad Muhammad survived a relentless attack by López to retain the belt with an 11th-round knockout.

By 1979, Johnson had become world champion by defeating Parlov, and Saad Muhammad felt he deserved a chance at the world title. So, on April 22, they met for a second time, this time in Johnson’s hometown of Indianapolis. This fight was also considered by many experts as a Saad Muhammad classic, and has been shown on ESPN Classic’s Classic Fights show. Saad Muhammad won the WBC‘s world light heavyweight crown with an eight round knockout of Johnson, after staggering him with a right hand towards the end of the seventh round. more…

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