By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer
He was grace and artistry in the ring. He was one of the best pure boxers of his era. He won one world title and failed twice to win titles in two other weight classes. He had class and was a gentleman. He proudly represented the great fight city of Youngstown, Ohio. His name was Greg Richardson and they called him “The Flea.”
Born in 1958, Greg launched his pro career in 1982 winning by a first round kayo. In his next bout Greg was halted in the opening stanza by Harry Lee. Hardly the start of a legend.
Greg would not suffer another knockout defeat until 1987 when he challenged Australian superstar Jeff Fenech. At that point Greg had amassed a 22-2 record with wins over top notch competition like Baby Kid Chocolate, Diego Rosario, Harold Petty, Alfonso Lopez, James Manning, Oscar Muniz, Robert Shannon and Darryl Thigpen. Fenech proved to be too strong for Greg and he retained his WBC Super Bantamweight title by a fifth round stoppage.
In his next fight Greg would drop a decision to the very talented Texan Jesse Benavides. In 1989 he would outscore former bantamweight champion Gaby Canizales. In 1990 Greg scored big wins over Ellyas Pical and Edwin Rangel.
On February 25th, 1991 Greg challenged Raul Perez in Inglewood, California for the WBC bantamweight title. In an upset Greg won on the cards 115-113 ( twice ) and 116-112, to capture a unanimous decision and the title.
In his first defense Greg out slicked the tough Victor Rabanales but in his next defense he was overpowered by Joichiro Tatsuyoshi in ten thus losing the crown. Greg came right back in 1992 to challenge Sung Kil Moon for the WBC Super Flyweight title. Greg lost a majority decision.
In 1993 Greg drew with Miguel Espinoza. In 1994 he pitched a shutout against former title challenger Armando Castro. In 1995 he beat the always tough Edel Geronimo. Then he lost a twelve round verdict in Romania to Petrica Janos Paraschiv. The end came for Greg in 1996 when he was stopped in six rounds by Juan Carlos Ramirez.
Greg’s final record stands at 31-8-1. He won five by knockout and in turn he failed to go the distance four times.
I had the great pleasure of seeing Greg fight live, at ringside on July 22, 1994 in Youngstown against Armando Castro. An interesting side note to this night is that Greg’s original opponent was to be a young, undefeated Mexican hotshot named Marcos Antonio Barrera. For whatever reasons Barrera pulled out and eventually Castro became Greg’s foe. Castro was no slouch, in fact he had twice unsuccessfully challenged for world titles. He was the last man to fight the great Khaosai Galaxy.
On this night with the famed Victor Valle working his corner, Greg completely dominated the befuddled Castro. This was a boxer in the twilight of his career that in my opinion won every round. It was a masterpiece. I’ll always wonder how a young Barrera would have fared that night against Greg? Even more interesting is the fact that in Castro’s next fight he would would challenge Alfred Kotey for the WBO bantamweight title. Why Castro instead of Richardson? After losing to Kotey, Castro would be stopped by Naseem Hamed and Erik Morales.
I have had the great pleasure of meeting Greg. In our brief conversations I found him to be a humble and somewhat shy individual. He is very fan friendly and always willing to sign an autograph. He has made the city of Youngstown proud.