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DAI DOWER
Abercynon

British, Empire & European Flyweight Champion

Born:  20th June 1933
Abercynon

Fights: 37     Won 34    Lost 3    Draw 0


Retired at the relatively tender age of 25, after a five year career that took in the British, Empire & European flyweight championships, a world title challenge against a true all-time great and 37 action packed fights, Dai Dower justly earned his place alongside the great Welsh boxers that had gone before.

The flyweight division has a tradition of producing fast, elusive fighters with considerable skill, what made Dai Dower shine in this illustrious company was, he had all of the above - and in abundance.

Just two months into his professional campaign, and two inside the distance wins under his belt, Dai was taken the distance for the first time when opposing the vastly more experienced Colin Clitheroe. Hailing from Preston, Clitheroe had lost just three of twenty two fights, and campaigned mostly at bantamweight, but was no match for the new Welsh flyweight sensation with Dower easing to a six round decision. Five wins later Dai showed his improvement in the pro ranks by facing Clitheroe again and this time stopping his man in five rounds.

In just his fourteenth paid bout Dower pitted his considerable skills against 74 fight veteran and current British Flyweight Champion, Terry Allen. The fight was not for the title, which was just as well for the seasoned Allen with the Abercynon fighter powering to a 2nd round KO. Dai Dower was now a force to be reckoned with in the division.

Another six wins in 1954 earned Dai a tilt at winning his first title; the Empire flyweight championship against the rough, tough South African, Jake Tulli. Although Empire champion for two years this was to be Tulli's first defence.........and his last.

Dower dominated the fight, displaying his sublime skills throughout. Tulli never stopped trying, but Dai Dower was just too much of a will 'o the wisp to be caught. Piling up the points with fast, accurate jabs, eye-catching combinations and dancing away when the least bit threatened the Welshman took a lop-sided 15 round points decision to become the new Empire Flyweight Champion.

A three round stoppage of Germany's Willibald Koch followed, in Dower's first fight of 1955, before a second chance of a title came along in the shape of the British flyweight crown. Terry Allen, a previous Dower victim, had vacated the title allowing Dai Dower to contest the crown against Eric Marsden, of St Helens. The signs were looking good for Dower. Marsden although having lost just three of his 31 fight career to date had lost those fights to Terry Allen (twice) and Jake Tulli - both fighters that Dower had faced and beaten. At stake, also, was Dai's Empire crown.

The little Abercynon fighter left nothing to chance as he moved effortlessly around the ring out-jabbing the taller and longer reaching Marsden. In a dazzling display the Welshman's technique, speed and ringmanship proved to be beyond his opponent. Marsden fought to the last and made it to the final bell, but the decision was never in doubt as Wales celebrated another great British Flyweight Champion.

Exactly one month later, and just five months after winning his first championship belt, the fighting phenomenon of the south Wales valleys was to seize his third major title! On a 23 fight winning streak, and still unbeaten, the sensational Dower challenged Italian, Nazzareno Giannelli for the European flyweight crown. Gianelli had won the title at his second attempt just six months earlier, and was making his first defence.......and his last.

The bout took place at the Earls Court Exhibition Hall with Dai Dower, of Wales, truly putting on an exhibition. Boxing at his brilliant best Dower dazzled the watching crowd, and his opponent, with a wonderful display of text book left jabbing. Making full use of the ring diminutive Dai showed his vast array of dancing skills as he moved in and out to score with his devastating jab and avoid anything significant that was thrown his way. At the end of the fifteen round contest, Giannelli knew his belt had passed into the hands of a new Flyweight Champion of Europe - Dai Dower.

Three more wins, all against foreign opposition, saw the fabulous little Welshman suffer defeat for the first time in his 27th contest, and ironically his first defence of the newly attained European crown. Spaniard, Young Martin ripped the title away from the Abercynon battler with a ruthless showing of aggression that Dower just could not halt. At first it seemed the champion would prove to be too skilful for the tough challenger and retain his title, as expected. Young Martin had other ideas. The Spaniard was beginning to get through to the champion with his forceful and hurtful body attacks. It's well known that successful attacks to the body are a sure fire way to slow down even the best of boxers - if you can catch them. But Dai was getting caught.......and often.

Against the 'run of play' the Welsh battler had a brief moment of success in the seventh when he dropped Martin for a short count. The moment was all too brief as Martin rose, unhurt, and continued where he had left off - attacking relentlessly to the body. Martin evened up the visits to the canvas by dropping Dower in the ninth round for the first time in the Welshman's career. Unfortunately it wasn't the last. The tenth saw Dai knocked down no less than six times! By now Dower was beaten but battled on with tremendous pride and courage. He was a champion and if he was going to lose would go out fighting. Sadly, the fight was knocked out of Dai in the twelfth when Young Martin unleashed a devastating body assault that dropped the brave Welshman for the full count.

Putting the disappointment of his European title loss behind him Dai Dower got back into the ring just two months later to defend his Empire flyweight belt against old foe Jake Tulli. The terribly punishing defeat at the hands of Young Martin was long forgotten as Dai went the full fifteen round distance to once again prove his superiority over the South African challenger.

Five wins out of five in 1956, saw Dai take a break from the ring when he joined the army to do his National Service. However, eight months after his last fight Dai was suddenly offered a shot at the big one. The World Title. Travelling to Argentina for his first fight on foreign soil, the odds were not in Dower's favour; he would be fighting in the champions back yard of Buenos Aires. And the champion? Pascual Perez.

Perez was a formidable champion; 41 fights unbeaten with 33 KO's and three successful defences under his belt. While Dower clearly had the tools to to beat the best this was going to be a major test. The champion was the favourite going into the fight but there were many who thought that the little Welshman could beat the odds with his superior skills against the hard hitting champ. No-one could have foresaw the outcome. At the first bell Dai came out firing that beautiful jab of his into the Argentinean's face, followed up with right crosses. Perez, unflustered, fired off a left hook that connected and clearly hurt the challenger, this was followed up with a slamming, thunderbolt of a right that sent Dai crashing to the canvas and to first round defeat.

Following the crushing world title defeat, Dai Dower went back to the army to finish his National Service; later vacating his British & Empire flyweight titles. He didn't fight again until the following year; a long break by his busy standards. January of 1958 saw Dower climb back between the ropes to defeat Eric Brett over eight rounds. This, however, was not the vintage Dai Dower that had gone before and the end was nigh. Dai Dower's final contest came with a 10 round points defeat at the hands of unheralded Canadian, Pat Supple.

Wales has produced some great flyweight champions over the years. Indeed, arguably we had the best flyweight of them all in Jimmy Wilde. Abercynon's Dai Dower has his place amongst them. He was unfortunate to meet a legendary champion in his world title challenge (in the champ's backyard), held the British, Empire and European flyweight titles - never losing the British or Empire title in the ring - and was a boxer with superb skills, huge courage and considerable style.

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