Having won just 3 of his first six fights - and drawn
the other three - there was nothing in Regan's early career to
suggest that he would attain world championship honours, but he
came so close to becoming Wales first two-weight world champion.
His first title was secured in his seventh fight
with a 10 round points victory against
Ammanford's Kevin Jenkins
to take the Welsh flyweight belt.
very next fight was for the vacant British flyweight crown. In
his way was Scotsman, Joe Kelly who had made previous,
unsuccessful, attempts at both the British and European titles.
Kelly, by comparison was a virtual veteran with 22 fights on his
somewhat mixed record. Again, the title fight went the distance
with the Welshman claiming a single point victory.
Bargoed fighters first defence was against previous victim,
Francis Ampofo. The year before, 1990, saw Regan take a 6 round
points victory in only his second pro outing. Ampofo, however
turned the tables and took Regan's British title with an 11th
round stoppage caused by a clash of heads. Robbie had suffered
the first loss on his record and lost the coveted title to boot.
months later the two boxers faced off for a third time; this
time Ampofo was defending the title in his first defence. Once
again the defending champion was unsuccessful, with Regan
re-claiming the British crown with a points decision over 12
Bautista Blanco was up next for Regan and quickly dispatched in
a first round stoppage. A successful defence of his British
flyweight title followed in a win over James Drummond, with the
referee halting the fight in the ninth. Drummond came into the
fight having gone the distance but failed to take the European
belt in his previous bout against the champion Salvatore
Fanni............ and it was Fanni and that European belt that
the Bargoed man had set his sights on next.
Fanni had held the European crown for just short of two years
but had already successfully defended it four times. At the
National Ice Rink, in Cardiff, the European title changed hands
as the Golden Boy came away with a
117-114, 117-115, 117-116 points
victory to send his horde of Welsh fans wild with delight. “It
was an action-packed fight between me and Fanni” remembered
Robbie. “He boxed the right fight and crowded me the whole time
but I boxed him and, though it was a tough fight, I felt I had
done more than enough at the end of the fight.”
inauspicious start to the paid ranks Robbie Regan was now
British & European
flyweight champion - but he wasn't finished
with title challenges just yet. The next three years saw him
defend the European strap, vacate it and win it back again; also
claiming victories in another four fights. Then came the big
one. A shot at the world flyweight title. In the opposing corner
was Mexico's Alberto Jimenez who had come over to Cardiff to
face the challenger having won the WBO belt just four months
before. The bout was a huge disappointment for the home fans as
their hero was retired by his corner in the ninth. Regan was
clearly behind on points but subsequently stated that he thought
he could have gone on and won the fight over the closing rounds.
It was only the second loss of his career.
1995, with the world title setback firmly behind him, the Welsh
battler was granted a shot at the interim IBF world flyweight
title against Tunisian, Ferid Ben Jeddou. Undefeated, Ben Jeddou
was a hard-punching southpaw who had won fourteen of his
nineteen fights, to date, inside the distance. On the night,
Regan was simply magnificent as he battered the Tunisian fighter
to a devastating two round defeat. A left hook from Regan left
his opponent flat on the canvas. Interviewed after the fight
Robbie said "Losing to Jimenez in that way made me hungry. I
didn’t perform against Jimenez and I’d had problems before the
fight but against Ben Jeddou I just went for it. I started
catching him early and just kept on him". Regan was now the
interim world flyweight champion.
surprising move, Regan then moved up to bantamweight for his
next contest. Reasoning that he had struggled to make flyweight
for some time and felt stronger and "a different fighter" at the
higher weight. For his first bout at the new weight the little
Welshman started at the top, none other than WBO world
bantamweight champion Daniel Jimenez. Having failed in his bid
to win the world flyweight title it was a big ask for Regan to
wrench the title from a world champion at bantamweight.
the contest thus:
From the first bell the
challenger set a frenetic pace and seemed well ahead by half
way. With the champion working his way into the fight and the
pace slowing a shade many wondered if Regan could stay ahead.
the eighth he would stop any of those thoughts in a single
Towards the end of the round a hard left hook thumped into the
champion’s chin sending him down heavily.
The champion desperately tried to turn the tide but, especially
with the knock-down, Regan was a worthy winner at the close of
twelve tough rounds.
official scores were 115-112, 116-111, 116-113 - in favour of
the NEW world bantamweight champion, Wales' Robbie Regan
Robbie had finally achieved his
goal, was looking to take on all-comers and prove himself a
worthy champion but a terrible twist of fate was to befall him.
As Robbie said himself in later
years "“When I won the world title I expected to be defending my
title and setting myself up for life but the year after I won it
was probably the worst time of my life.” In a sad ending to a
career that was still blossoming, Regan contracted glandular
fever and was never able to defend his treasured world title. He
was subsequently stripped of his belt by the WBO for being
unable to defend it.
Two years later, in 1998, Regan
attempted a comeback but was prevented from doing so as he
failed a mandatory BBBofC brain scan.