Recalling The Absolute War Kelvin Seabrooks And Thierry Jacob Engaged In On July 4th!

The term ‘closet classic’ refers to this fight. On this day, July 4th, 1987, in Calais, France, Kelvin Seabrooks met local hero Thierry Jacob in defense of his IBF bantamweight title. Very much the ‘away’ fighter, champ Seabrooks had to dig unimaginably deep to ensure he went home with his belt. Seabrooks also had to endure anxious moments when his belt was almost stolen.

Seabrooks, an underrated fighter – then and today – was making the first defense of the IBF belt he had won the previous May. Jacob was unbeaten at 21-0, and he was having his first shot at a world title. It’s no exaggeration to say the fight that ensued was dramatic, wild, furiously so, knockdown-filled, and almost very controversial.

Seabrooks, a deceptive 23-13, struck quickly, decking his challenger in a flash just 15 seconds into the fight. But the fight was nowhere close to being over via a first-round KO. Instead, Jacob got up and sent Seabrooks to the canvas in the same round – twice. It was as savage an opening round to a world title fight as you will see.

The action never slowed, the pace and the ferocity red-hot. Seabrooks was downed again in round six. By this stage of the fight/war, Jacob was sporting a nasty cut to his right eye. The fight could have been over at least two or three times by now. But the truly spellbinding stuff was still to come.

Round eight was absolute carnage, a genuine rival to the epic and much more celebrated Hagler-Hearns round one. Both champ and challenger went hell for leather, the dizzying action too fast and furious for the human eye to thoroughly keep track of! How neither man wilted, nobody knows. Seabrooks, showing an immense heart and a stunningly full gas tank, roared on to claw his way to the top in the ninth round.

Then the bullshit started. Jacob’s corner, sensing their man WAS wilting, appeared to try and worsen the cut to the eye as Jacob was sat in his corner at the end of the ninth. The challenger pulled out by his corner; Team Jacob thought the fight would go to the scorecards. Bedlam reigned for long minutes, with Seabrooks first announced as the stoppage winner and Jacob then announced as the winner. Watching the fight today via YouTube, with only French commentary, is fun. But at the time, the world title he had fought so very hard to hold onto in danger, there was nothing fun about it for Seabrooks.

Thankfully, justice was eventually done, and Seabrooks was the TKO winner, his belt to go home with him to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Today, at the big July 4 celebrations, a fight fan could do much worse than check out the fight that occurred on this day some 37 years ago. How this fight doesn’t make it on the greatest fights ever list is beyond me.

Happy Independence Day!

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