The year was 1993; President Bill Clinton was sworn into office on January 20, Jurassic Park was thrilling moviegoers in the theaters and Tag Team’s “Whomp, There It Is” was regularly hitting the airwaves.
In the fast and furious world of boxing, Riddick Bowe would lose the Heavyweight crown to Evander Holyfield in their November rematch with a special appearance by fan man. And fighters like Pernell Whitaker, Roy Jones Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya were widely recognized as being among the elite pound-for-pound fighters of the day.
Another fighter, one “Terrible” Terry Norris, was making his own push towards being recognized as one of the best in the sport.
Norris, 26, was the reigning 154-pound Super Welterweight Champion of the world. From Campo, California, Norris was beginning to make noise after reorganizing his career after two early losses not long after turning professional. After suffering a brutal second-round knockout loss in July of 1989 to the hard punching Julian Jackson, Norris was now flying high and on a 13-fight winning streak.
In that winning streak, Norris had won the 154 pound title via a devastating first round knockout victory over John “The Beast” Mugabi. That victory was followed by dominant and impressive wins over Sugar Ry Leonard, Donald Curry, Meldrick Taylor, and Maurice Blocker. Terrible Terry was becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Poised to make the ninth defense of his crown, Norris (34-3, 20 KOs) would next face the man known as “The Glamor with the Hammer,” Troy Waters. The fight was scheduled to take place on June 19, 1993.
The 28-year-old Waters (20-2, 14 KOs) was fighting out of Sydney, Australia. In challenging Norris at the Sports Arena in San Diego, California, this would be Waters’ first fight in the United States. The most recognizable name on the Waters’ dossier up to this point in his career was Gianfranco Rosi, a fight he lost via a unanimous decision in the fall of 1989.
In many circles, Waters was compared in grit and toughness to another Aussie, Jeff Fenech. A distinct underdog, the question of this night would focus on whether Waters’ sturdiness would be enough to compete with the much more skilled and experienced Norris. Waters had not faced the level of competition that Norris had. Norris, however, was haunted with questions on what many referred to as a suspect chin.
Both men looked to be in sensational shape. Norris weighed in at the 154-pound limit and Waters tipped the scales two pounds under the limit at 152.
Waters, the No. 5 ranked WBC contender, entered the ring first wearing black trunks with pink trim. Norris, the champion, entered next. He wore his now traditional white and red trunks with the word “Terrible” printed across the front of his waist.
The bout aired live on Showtime with Steve Albert, Ferdie Pacheco and Bobby Czyz sitting ringside to call the night’s action. Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. introduced the fighters in front of a raucous San Diego crowd packed inside the Sports Arena. Marty Denkin provided the final instructions and the bell sounded to begin the action.
Norris went right on the attack, winging power punches at Waters. Waters covered up and tried to use his jab as Norris backed him into ropes with rights and lefts to both the head and to the body. Less than one minute into the round, Norris launched a series of uppercuts to the head followed by a left hook to the body. As Waters crumpled over, he fell to the mat as Norris left him with a late parting gift, clipping him on top of his head.
A bewildered Waters, down for the first time in his career, rose as Denkin reached the count of eight. Denkin then called time and penalized Norris one point for hitting Waters while he was on the mat.
When the action resumed, Norris again jumped all over Waters, unloading a hail storm of power punches. As Waters covered up, Czyz tried to keep up with the furious assault. “This fight is all but over right now. Terry’s in a bad mood and he’s taking it all out on Troy Waters.”
With less than a minute to go in the round, Waters began launching his own power punches and began to become more offensive. Norris still controlled the action and dealt Waters a vicious beating until the bell sounded to end the opening three minutes.
The second round began with both fighters meeting at the center of the ring. As both fighters stood in close quarters, Norris rocked Waters back with an avalanche of combinations. Waters immediately responded with a series of his own power punches including a vicious hook to the body and a right hand that landed flush on the chin of Norris. Out of nowhere, Norris crumbled into a ball and dropped to his knees. A shocked Albert screamed, “Norris goes down! Unbelievable!”
As Norris rose to take the standing eight-count, the San Diego crowd was on its collective feet. Czyz shouted over their roar, “Oh my god! It’s unbelievable!”
Norris visibly shook his head and pounded his gloves on his face trying to clear the cobwebs. He went back on the offensive when the action resumed. So did Waters. The two stood toe to toe with an eternity, nearly two minutes, remaining in the second. Both threw, and landed, the better part of their arsenals. Pacheco hollered over the cheering fans, “And Terry is wearing out! He is wearing out. He is throwing everything he’s got!”
Now with less than one minute remaining in the round, the two continued bombing away, each giving as good as they got. Albert bellowed, “This crowd in a frenzy! Most of them standing!”
With seconds remaining, Waters launched a blistering right hand behind a left jab that impaled on the side of Norris’ face. Albert again tried to call the action over the uproar of those in attendance, “What a right by Waters!”
The bell sounded to end the second round, cementing those three minutes into boxing history. The non-stop action would later be named by The Ring as the “Round of the Year.”
Round 3 began as a carbon copy of the second. Both men stood at mid ring trading power punches. An exacerbated Albert continued, “Again, Waters getting pummelled to the face but refusing to go down!” As the two again stood toe to toe, Norris launched a howitzer, a ruthless right hand that put Waters down for a second time.
Refusing to back down, Waters got to his feet. With less than one minute remaining in the third, he was now showing serious battle damage. His right eye was badly cut and both eyes were now swelling badly as blood streamed down his face. As the bell sounded to end the round, Pacheco described the punishment, “His face is falling apart. It is. It’s coming apart!”
The corner immediately went to work on Waters’ eyes as the ring doctor and referee weren’t far away. As Norris stood from his stool to begin the fourth, Denkin waived off the action and signalled an end to the fight. The gutsy and game Troy Waters had had enough.
The fight ended with Waters on his stool as Norris had retained his 154 pound title. Those nine minutes left a blazing trail of action for those in attendance and all that were watching at home.
Both fighters would continue their careers into 1998 before retiring. Each faced tough, world class fighters in the coming years.
Norris fought a memorable trilogy with Luis Santana and twice tangled with Simon Brown. Waters also faced Brown and also met Felix Trinidad.
As they finished out their careers, none of their action compared to the three minutes of fistic fury of that memorable second round.