Boxing mourns Mason

Image: Mason: former British heavyweight champion

Former British heavyweight champion Gary Mason died in a road accident on Thursday. He was 48 years old.

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Former British heavyweight champion dies in road accident, aged 48

Former British heavyweight champion Gary Mason died in a road accident on Thursday. He was 48 years old. Mason was riding a bicycle in Sandy Lane South, Wallington, south London, when he was involved in a collision with a van. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Metropolitan Police said the van driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving. One of the most popular figures on the boxing scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mason beat Hughroy Currie to win the British heavyweight title in 1989. He mounted one successful defence but lost the belt when he challenged future world champion Lennox Lewis for his European title at Wembley Arena in March 1991. Mason was regarded as a slight favourite coming into the fight but an existing eye injury did not help his cause against the sharp, accurate Lewis, and he was stopped in the seventh round. Eye problems blighted Mason's career but he fought twice more, winning both, before retiring in 1994. Known as a tough, hard-hitting fighter with a strong chin, Jamaican-born Mason had 38 professional contests in all, suffering only one defeat and winning 34 by knockout.

Ability

He led a varied life after his boxing career, with a spell as a pundit for Sky Sports and a brief venture with rugby league side London Broncos. Speaking through his agent Dave Davies, former world heavyweight champion Frank Bruno said: "We used to spar together in the early days. Gary was probably a better technical boxer than me, although I had more determination. That's why I made it and he didn't. "It was his technical ability that spurred me on to work harder. I'm very sorry about his death, particularly the circumstances of how it happened. "Both of us were plying our trade at an early age and I had a lot of respect for the guy." Davies, who also represented Mason at the end of his boxing career, said: "He was a real character, a south London boy trying to do well. "He was a bit of a handful but he was a great guy. He will certainly be missed. "Gary was always looking for a pound note. If there was ever anybody who would say 'This time next year I'm going to be a millionaire', it was him. "He decided he wanted to be a media star. He wanted to do after-dinner speaking and to open gyms. Unfortunately he was very much in the shadow of Frank Bruno." He said the pair both had a "cheeky sense of humour" and added: "He was always mixing everybody's names up. He could never grab someone's name and remember it." Davies also remembered how Mason once diverted all his phone calls to him over a bank holiday weekend, meaning he had to deal with "about 400 calls" with invitations to different barbecues.
Great loss
Promoter Frank Maloney said: "I'm very sad. It's a great loss, not just to boxing but to life in general. "He was always a happy guy with a smile on his face. Even if things were going wrong for him, he cheered other people up. "He was one of the nice guys of boxing. And he did great work for charity. People don't realise the amount of work he did for charity." Moloney said the fight against Lewis effectively ended Mason's career, adding: "One man's career ended and one man's career went forward. It was a great shame. "Gary was a good heavyweight but he was around at the wrong time, with the likes of Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno. "If he was around today he would have dominated the heavyweight division." British Boxing Board of Control general secretary Robert Smith said: "It's a terrible shock. He was a very good champion in the era when we had Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis. He was a huge puncher and a very nice man."

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