Willie Limond

Born: February 2, 1979;

Died: April 15, 2024

WILLIE Limond, who has died at the age of 45, was an exciting, skilled and tenacious boxer, a genuine crowd-pleaser. He never knew when to quit.

In November 2011, Limond, then 32, was soundly beaten by Anthony Crolla Ravenscraig Sports Centre in Motherwell, Crolla retaining his British lightweight title with a unanimous points win. Limond, downcast, did not emerge from his Glasgow home for several days afterwards, though he did indicate that his career was far from over. “Willie has not surfaced since the fight because he feels so ashamed,” his manager, Tommy Gilmour, reflected at the time.

“He has stayed at home drinking tea and giving himself a hard time, but he has no reason whatsoever to think that way. Willie could not believe his performance and neither could I. But you could not question his effort or courage and I am glad that he has decided to fight on”. You never know , Gilmour observed, if a boxer had suddenly become an old man overnight until his next fight; but, he said, Limond deserved to give himself the chance to find out.

In a way, Limond’s tenacity against Crolla reminded Gilmour of Jim Watt’s refusal to quit the night he defended his world lightweight title against Alexis Argüello at Wembley in 1981. Watt’s corner had wanted to pull him out, just as Gilmour did with Limond after the sixth round at Motherwell, but Watt declined: Limond did, too.

Limond’s distinguished career saw him become a British light-welterweight champion and a two-time Commonwealth champion. He had memorable, high-profile contests against Alex Arthur, Amir Khan and Erik Morales at, respectively, the Braehead Arena, London’s O2 Arena, and Monumental Plaza de Toros in Mexico City. All three bouts ended in defeat for the Scot, and his victors all went on to become world champions.

As Limond’s Instagram page summed it all up: “Professional boxer since 1999. 7 titles at 3 different weights ...47 fights 42 wins the story goes on”. He was also, it added, a professional boxing coach, and a coach at Boxing Scotland. Lately he had been, in the words of Boxing Scotland’s chair, Kevin Bell, a “huge source of support and inspiration” to its Elite Boxing Group, lending his time, experience and expertise to the next generation of Scottish boxers.

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Willie Limond was born in Garthamlock, Glasgow, on February 2, 1979. In his teens he was one of the city’s most promising amateur boxers, winning bronze for Scotland at the European Cadet Championships (later, the European Junior Championships), in Elazig, Turkey in 1995. A talented footballer, he played a number of games for Albion Rovers in 1998. In one of them - a 2-1 win at Montrose - he crossed the ball for Dougie Bruce to head home the winner.

He became a pro boxer at the age of 20, and over the next 24 years he competed in the super-featherweight, lightweight, and super-lightweight divisions. He won his first 18 fights before, in July 2003, coming up against Edinburgh’s Alex Arthur, the British super-featherweight champion, at Braehead. Arthur won with an eight-round stoppage. Undaunted, Limond won the European Union belt against the Frenchman Youssouf Djibaba in June 2004, and then in November 2006, he became Commonwealth lightweight champion by outpointing Joshua Allotey, of Ghana, at the Kelvin Hall.

This led to his celebrated clash with Amir Khan in July 2007, in London. Khan, highly-rated, was an Olympic silver medallist; Limond was largely written off before he had even strapped on his gloves. Khan was having none of it. “Willie Limond is a great British boxer and one of the finest lightweights in the country,” he said. “Only a fool would disrespect him. He has lost only once, to Alex Arthur, and Arthur is one of the best super-featherweights in the world so it is stupid for any one to try to claim that this will be an easy fight for me”.

Limond fought splendidly that night, and even dropped Khan in the sixth round, but Khan called on all his reserves to stop him after eight completed rounds. “Everybody remembers me for that fight and sometimes it’s better to be remembered for something than not remembered at all,” Limond told Boxing News’s Elliot Worsell in 2022. “It didn’t go my way but these things happen. I don’t agree with how it went, but, hey, it’s 15 years ago now. He had his moments and I had mine. He took his and I never took mine. The guy was getting long counts and all sorts but Amir got up and did what I didn’t do. He finished the fight. I couldn’t do that. Fair play.”

His strength sapped by the altitude, Limond lost to Mexico’s Mirales in front of 56,000 people at the Plaza de Toros, in 2010. He lost to Crolla in 2011 but two years later he defeated Eddie Coyle to win the Commonwealth super-lightweight title. After a successful defence against Mitch Prince he then saw off Curtis Woodhouse, the British super-lightweight title holder.

He retired in 2016 but was drawn back in 2019 and in 2022. Before the latter return, he told Boxing News: “It’s more than likely this will be the last one. I last fought three years ago and haven’t done a lot of training since. The last 12 weeks have been good for me. They’ve allowed me to get back in shape. I’ve missed the training and I’ve missed training for something”. There were a number of fights and then, in September of last year, he took on Ricky Burns, one of only three British fighters to be crowned world champion in three different weight divisions, but had to be pulled out at the end of the eighth round.

Limond had been due to return to the ring earlier this month, against Joe Laws at the Emirates Arena, but he died on April 15 after suffering a seizure. His death stunned the world of boxing, and many of his old opponents voiced their grief. “One of the best men I ever met”, posted Anthony Crolla. Curtis Woodhouse reflected: We stayed in touch after our fight and always had a laugh together. Absolutely gutted”.