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British Boxing Legend

Julius Francis (born 8 December 1964) is a British retired heavyweight champion boxer who participated in many noteworthy boxing matches in the mid 90s and 2000s. In 2007, he also participated in a mixed martial arts bout, having been a former European heavyweight kickboxing champion. During his boxing career, he fought many champions, Mike Tyson, Oleg Maskayev, Vitali Klitschko, Axel Schulz, Alexander Dimitrenko, John Ruiz and Željko Mavrović.

Early career

After a troubled youth that saw him spend several spells in prison, Francis turned pro in 1993 at the late age of 28 with a five-round knockout of Graham Arnold. He put together six wins (3 by knockout), including two in the US, before being matched, somewhat prematurely, with future world heavyweight champion John Ruiz. Francis was stopped in 4 rounds by body shots.

In 1995 Francis won Southern Area title fights against Damien Caesar and Keith Fletcher. However, he squandered a big opportunity in an eliminator, when far ahead on points after nine rounds, hard hitting Scott Welch came from behind to drop him three times and stop him in 10. After this fight, Welch would go on to win the British title and challenge for a world title, while Francis was dropped by his team and relegated to journeyman status.

Later in 1995, he took a fight in Russia and was outpointed by local Nikolai Kulpin and, in London, lost a debatable decision by half a point to veteran Michael Murray.

Francis showed marked improvement in 1996, knocking out ex-victim Caesar in the first round to regain his Southern Area title, outpointing Michael Holden, and scoring the biggest win of his career to date as he took on hard hitting “Big Bad” James Oyebola and destroyed the giant Nigerian in 5 one sided rounds.

The big win over Oyebola got Francis a February 1997 shot at Zeljko Mavrovic for his European title, on the champion’s home turf of Austria. Francis “stole” Mavrovic’s bizarre mohawk haircut for the fight and even dyed it blonde. In the fight itself, Francis strangely took a knee from body shots in the 8th and watched the ref wave the fight off. Mavrovic would go on to lose on points to Lennox Lewis in a World title challenge, a fight that Lewis would say in 2006 was “the hardest of my career”.

Experienced pro

Downward slide

Francis was now 38 years old and with a respectable record of 23-10-1 (12 knockouts).

He would mix in with high class company in the UK, Germany, Russia, and other locations, but he would not win another fight. The most notable fights were a November 2003 second-round KO loss to future champ Oleg Maskaev (26-5), a February 2004 decision loss to fast rising Matt Skelton (11-0), and a May 2004 decision loss to Olympic Champion Audley Harrison (15-0).

Francis appeared to have reached the end of the road in May 2006, when he was outpointed over 4 rounds by unknown Scott Lansdowne.

He was 41 years old and weighed well over 19 stone.

Having lost 14 fights in a row, his record now stood at 23-24-1 (12 knockouts).

Overall, Francis has won four British Heavyweight title fights and five Commonwealth title fights, as well as two challenges for the European title and he has fought four former or future World champions, besides owning his very own much heralded Lonsdale Belt.

Mixed Martial Arts career

In the summer of 2007, Francis announced that at Cage Rage 23: Unbelievable on 22 September 2007 he would be making his mixed martial arts debut against Gary Turner. Francis stated that he expected the move to mixed martial arts to be comfortable for him as he was already a good kickboxer before he took up boxing. His opponent Gary Turner was previously beaten by Matt Skelton, one of Francis’s own conquerors, in a K-1 tournament in 2000.

Francis lost his MMA bout against Turner by TKO (submission to punches) at 2:15 in round 2.

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