May 28, 1964
Fenech was born
in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and was one of the toughest and
hardest working fighters of his era. The kid from the tough, Marrickville section of Sydney was named captain of the Australian
boxing team at the 1984 Olympic games, but suffered a controversial
defeat (the decision was reversed by judges after the fight). He
returned home and turned pro later that October.
As a pro, his career seemed to match his fighting style. The
supremely conditioned fighter swarmed opponents from the opening bell
and didn't stop throwing pucnhes until the referee intervened or the
final bell. He won titles in three weight divisions in the span of 20
fights in just 3 1/2 years.
The " Marrickville Mauler" captured the IBF bantamweight title on
April 26, 1985 in his seventh fight, with a one-sided, ninth-round TKO
over champion Satoshi Shingaki of Thailand before a hometown crowd in
Sydney. He defended the bantamweight crown three times, including a
rematch win over Shingaki (TKO 4) and a 14th round TKO over 1984
Olympic chammpion Steve McCrory of the United States.
He won his second title May 8, 1987. Fenech attacked WBC super
bantamweight champion Samart Payakaroon from the opening bell and
turned in another signature performance. He steadily wore down the
champion before the referee stepped in and stopped the contest in the
fourth round. In July he defeated American Greg Richardson (TKO 5) and
in Oct. met future Hall of Famer Carlos Zarate of Mexico. The two
greats battled before a sellout crowd in Sydney. Fenech took an early
lead on the scorecards, but he suffered a deep wound above his eye in
Round 4 and was awarded a Technical Win when he was no longer able to
One battle Fenech couldn't win was on the scales and was forced to
move up to featherweight. On May 7, 1988 he weathered an early barrage
from Mexican Victor Callejas, himself a former champion, and captured
his third world title via 10th-round TKO. By defeating Callejas for
the vacant WBC featherweight crown, Fenech became the first undefeated
fighter to win titles in three divisions.
Throughout his career Fenech was saddled with brittle hands, which
caused him great pain. Sighting the pain in his hands, Fenech hung up
his gloves after defeating Marcos Villasana (W 12) in his third
defense of the featherweight belt, April 8, 1988. But the retirement
was shortlived. Following surgery to his hands, Fenech returned to the
ring that Nov. with a 12-round decsion over Mario Martinez. In Jan. he
stopped Johnny Kalbhenn in four rounds and was ready for his fourth
He would return to the United States, the scene of his last defeat,
for his challenge of WBC super featherweight champion Azumah Nelson of
Ghana. On June 28, 1991 in Las Vegas, Fenech attacked Nelson, a
well-schooled boxer who himself was a two-division champion, from the
opening bell. Fenech seemed to dominate the fight and often had Nelson
pinned against the ropes. In Round 12, Fenech staggered the champion,
but was unable to finish him off. The Australian was shocked and
heartbroken when the fight was declared a draw.
It was the last great effort from Fenech. The numerous brawling
wars over the years had taken their toll. Before a crowd of 35,000 at
Princes Park in Melbourne, Fenech found himself on the short side of a
signature Nelson performance. Nelson dropped Fenech in each of the
first two rounds. He dominated the fight and had Fenech defensless
before the referee intervened in Round 8.
He attempted two more comebacks, but both ended inside the
distance. He retired for good in 1996.
Still active in the sport, Fenech now trains boxers.