Casnewydd - Newport

British Heavyweight Champion
Welsh Heavyweight Champion

Born:  8th May, 1959



by Luke Pearce

David Pearce was born on the 8th May 1959 at his parent’s home in Newport, south Wales. One of seven brothers, David was born into a true boxing family; six of the brothers, including David, boxed professionally. David, who became the most successful boxer in the family, took up the sport at 10 years of age and won a fistful of schoolboy and senior amateur titles prior to turning professional in his teens. 

He was a gentleman who was devoted to his family and a truly dedicated boxer - who unfortunately never seemed to get the breaks. A lot of speculation has arisen concerning the management of his early career with, rightly or wrongly, some people believing he should have taken up offers he received to go to London with higher-profile managers, but David loved his father and family and wouldn't have had it any other way.

 Defining Fights:

v Theo Josephs (Plymouth, Devon, 11.12.78)

Having begun his professional career with a first round TKO of Osborne Taylor, Pearce followed it up with a second round KO of Bob Bleau, before taking on the vastly more experienced Theo Josephs just 10 days later. Three fights in six weeks; a somewhat hectic schedule for a tender 19 year old, just starting out in the heavyweight professional fight game. Josephs, aged 23, from Trinidad was having his 17th bout.

Josephs used his experience, as best he knew, as he tried to rough David up on the inside, rubbing heads and trapping his arm and then working him to the body. This was clearly a learning fight for David and he progressed as the rounds ticked off, adjusting his tactics as he read the fight. It was action all the way over the 8 rounds and it came as no surprise when David's arm was lifted by the referee. A good eight rounds under his belt and a fine win was all part of the learning curve. Just over 6 months later David had a rematch with Josephs, at Aberavon, and stopped him in 2 rounds……..he was learning fast, very fast.

 David had two great qualities for a heavyweight, he could punch with either hand and was one of the most determined boxers ever to enter the ring.

 v Larry McDonald (NSC London, 16.03.81)

Larry McDonald was a big man by any standards, but in comparison to ‘Bomber’ Pearce, McDonald was a VERY big man. He was 5 years older than David, six inches taller and outweighed him by a couple of stone - this was just for starters.  He was also undefeated. David pressured him from the start and tagged him with some great head shots on the ropes. He also understood the effects of a sustained attack to the body - to bring the hands down for a clear left hook or right cross to the head. These tactics paid off  for Pearce when he pressured  Larry to the ropes yet again in the third round, seizing his chance as McDonald dropped his hands to protect his body and scored with an hellacious right  hand…...timber……..big Larry dropped to the canvas and there was no way he was going to beat the count...not even to 100.

David Pearce's 1st round wins over both Ishaq Hussain and Albert Syben were both significant and special. Both fighters had good records and mixed in good company both in Europe and America. Albert Syben fought various champions and both he and Hussain were very rarely stopped so David's one round KO's of both were substantial in the boxing fraternity.

Another significant win for David was his 7 round stoppage of Dennis Andries, this was the first inside schedule loss for Andries; well known as a real hard man of the ring. For Pearce to have stopped him in 7 so early in his career speaks volumes about David's potential and of course his punching power. Dennis Andries went on to become WBC Light-Heavyweight champion and fought some of the great names in boxing, including the legendary Thomas Hearns. A great result for David, as he also gained revenge for his brother Ray, who had been defeated by Andries earlier in his career. Revenge was sweet.

Thus far, ‘Bomber’ Pearce had accumulated a fine record of 15 wins with just two defeats; an unsuccessful attempt to take the Welsh heavyweight title from Neville Meade followed immediately by a third round disqualification against John Rafferty. However, a good run of wins, particularly over Andries, saw the Newport heavyweight in contention for a British title shot. David's 5th round KO of Gordon Ferris was spectacular and exciting. Harry Carpenter infamously said it “Didn't resemble anything to do with boxing and it was on the cobbles stuff” as both fighters fought valiantly but David's body and head attacks were just too powerful. This was five great rounds and great television but more significantly it was the final eliminator for the British Heavyweight title and the chance to become only the fifth British heavyweight champion to herald from Wales and the only ever from Newport or Gwent.

v Neville Meade (St Davids Hall, Cardiff, 22.09.83)
British Heavyweight Title
Welsh Heavyweight Title

David Pearce with Lonsdale beltThis was the last 15 round British championship bout ever fought.
Wikipedia notes:

‘Pearce is noted for boxing in the last 15-round British championship bout, as the contracts for the bout were finalised before the present 12-round rule was in place’.

Once David had weathered the early storms, he effectively waited for the older man to run out of steam, as he sought to avenge his earlier career defeat by the Swansea fighter. In the 8th, Meade was decked, only to come under heavy fire again in the next round before he was rescued by the referee after being battered against the ropes. David Pearce had become the British heavyweight champion - a title he never lost in the ring.

v Lucien Rodriguez
(Limoges, France, 30.03.84
European Heavyweight Title

David was biding his time for the first couple of rounds, finding out what Lucien had in the way of punching power, feeling him out. In the 8th round, David struck and Rodriguez was found wanting as he was dropped by a right. The referee gave what appeared to be a very, very slow count. David moved in for the kill and dropped Lucien again heavily. The Moroccan, fighting in his adopted homeland, was now cut over the left eye and clearly in bad shape but, once again the count appeared to be extended, even more this time, enabling him to beat the count. Lucien survived.

The defending champion boxed on the retreat for the last four rounds and was fortunate not to be stopped on account of his severely damaged eye. Controversy surrounded the ‘long count’ issue long afterwards with some insisting that David had actually KO'd Rodriguez twice in that 8th round. The French promoters had obviously done their homework as they provided a 'football pitch sized ring’ that enabled their man, all too easily, to keep away from the marauding David Pearce. It was a shame but still a valiant effort; the French crowd gave David a standing ovation and followed him from the stadium chanting his name. Just two fights earlier Rodriguez had taken the great Larry Holmes the full distance in losing a points decision in his bid to take the world heavyweight title. Once again David hadn’t got the breaks, as he came so close to beating a world title challenger and seizing the European title for Wales.

It is a feature of Pearce’s career that he was continually overlooked. Regarded by many as too difficult, too dangerous and a fully paid up member of the ‘who needs him’ club. In their view he was best avoided, particularly in a championship contest which is why he never got to fight the ‘names’ of the day and pit himself against the established, more well known fighters who went on to challenge for world titles.

Then it went wrong………...terribly wrong.

A compulsory brain scan, as required by the British Boxing Board of Control, resulted David Pearce in trainingin a devastating blow to David’s boxing career. The scan had revealed irregularities which led to the Welsh fighter being suspended by the Board. Immediately, Pearce appealed against the decision but lost his bid to resume his career and was banned from the ring as a result of the scan. In rejecting Pearce's appeal, the BBBC ruled that before being allowed to return, he would have to consult a neurologist and convince the board that he is fit, they withdrew his licence and declared his heavyweight crown vacant. David Pearce, the British Heavyweight champion had lost his title; not in the ring, but in the offices of the BBBofC.

The former Newport steelworker relentlessly campaigned for the return of his licence. Following several unsuccessful attempts to return to the ring, David was linked with underground fighters and promoters. Notably Lenny McLean & Bartley Gorman (The undefeated bare-knuckle champion of Great Britain & Ireland)

David was a very colourful character, but along with manager Wally decided not to take the £20,000 on offer to fight Gorman as it would have affected his appeal to get his licence back. While campaigning for the return of his licence the likeable Newport fighter sparred with Lennox Lewis and Tim Witherspoon in an effort to keep fit. He also took an active role in preparing youngsters for stardom in his local gym.


David Pearce did effectively return to the ring but due to the enforced inactivity and age being against him he just wasn't the same fighter. He gave away 5 1/2 stone to Percell Davis in his return, seven long years later. Fighting in Michigan, USA David went down to an eighth round defeat, but as always he had surprised everyone present with his courage and bravery as he took shot after shot but kept going until the referee stepped in to end the fight. That was David's style he dished it out and took whatever came his way as he just plodded on. It was a sad end for a great fighter.

Final Years
On returning home to Newport, Pearce’s final years were marked by epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. The last 9 months of David's life were spent coaching kids of all ages at Alway A.B.C even though he could no longer box; he still had great enthusiasm for the game. He was known to Alway ABC as "the pied piper of Newport", because wherever he went he had his followers.

On Sat 20th May, David Pearce was found dead at his home in Newport. Boxers, promoters and other sportsmen joined family and friends as they rang the final bell for the 40 year old. Bethel Temple Pentecostal church in Stow Hill struggled to contain everyone eager to pay their respects to the man who brought the Lonsdale belt to Newport in 1983. An entourage of five hearses was led through the packed streets by a police escort. It was a fitting tribute to the former Welsh and British Heavyweight Champion which he thoroughly deserved.

Article by Luke Pearce.

Keeping Name Alive
Alway ABC - They renamed their hall 'The David Pearce Memorial Hall'
BBC South Wales - The BBC have inducted him into their sports hall of fame
Newport Library - Due to the campaign of Luke Pearce the Library now has original footage & video footage of David Pearce

Thoughts of fans:
Anon - USA
“David Pearce was a throw back to the old days. What a dynamic fighting machine. He was the really rocky. He was loved by everyone wherever he went. It's my memories of David Pearce that prove there are angels on high. David was a bright light  that shone so high and bright, touched young and old. Meek and Milk David loved life and I am sure beyond any doubt that David Pearce is truly at peace with his Mom & Dad looking down on the rest of his family. Goodnight, God bless - you are a true champion, a modern day gladiator.”

Ken Coughlin - Ebbw Vale
“I had the pleasure of trying to right the wrongs of others when in 1986 we tried to get David back in the ring. However, dark forces beat us but what I do remember was the total lack of support for this great person who really could have been a  cruiserweight champion of the world. God rest my good friend, miss you, take care wherever you may be.”

Johnny - Newport
“What an achievement; the only man to bring the heavyweight championship belt of Great Britain (The Lonsdale Belt) to Newport or Gwent. Truly a great man.”

Steve Sims
“Dave had the best left hook pound-for-pound in the world. If he hit you on the chin, night night it would be. Dave was a gentleman and a very good friend. Always remember you.”
Kindly supplied by Luke Pearce

Limited Edition print


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