1-6-1-0(0) against the top ten
0-0-0-0(0) against linear champions
0-1-0-0(0) against hall-of-famers
No fights for the linear championship
Fights against the top ten: W-UD-10 Joe Bugner, D-10 Jimmy Ellis, L-UD-10 Jerry Quarry, L-KO-3, L-UD-10 Ron Lyle, L-UD-12 Oscar Bonavena, L-UD-10 Duane Bobick, L-TKO-10 Ken Norton
-2.5 total score (1 + -5 + 0.5 + 1)
Larry Middleton was a name that cropped up quite often as a credible opponent for some of the bigger names of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. He fought in arguably the toughest era ever for heavyweight boxing. He had a relatively short career, fighting 35 times in 12 years, but what his career lacked in quantity, he made up for it with quality competition. He was tall and lanky, working behind a long jab, and demonstrating toughness and power. He was generally a step below the best in the division, but he was nearly always competitive.
He turned pro in 1965, and worked his way fairly slowly through the ranks, drawing his first fight and losing his third, but gradually learning and improving. By the end of 1971, Middleton had built up a record of 16-1-1(10), leading up to a fight with British contender Joe Bugner. Bugner was more experienced, and was thought to have a higher upside, but Middleton upset the applecart, winning a decision in England. 3 more wins followed, leading up to a world title eliminator against perennial contender Jerry Quarry. The taller Middleton was able to bank some early rounds with his long jab, but the more experienced Quarry adjusted, and wore Larry down with punishing body work through the middle and late rounds. Quarry eventually won a close decision, handing Middleton his first loss in 6 and a half years.
The narrow loss against the number 2 contender didn’t diminish Middleton’s stock, and he followed it up with a fight with another top contender in Ron Lyle. The powerful Lyle overwhelmed Middleton early, dropping him twice, the second time for the count, in a quick 3rd round knockout. 11 months later, Larry got another shot at Lyle, losing again, but lasting the 10 round distance.
A win over tough gatekeeper Jack O’Halloran led to a draw against longtime contender Jimmy Ellis. Middleton continued to run the gauntlet, next losing a wide decision to the dangerous Oscar Bonavena. After that May 1974 loss, Middleton wore down, and began losing more than he won. Losses to Howard Smith, Duane Bobick, Scott LeDoux, and Ken Norton helped bring about the end of Middleton’s career. A decision win over Roger Russell in October 1976 appeared to make for a victorious end, but he ended up fighting once more in 1978, losing an 8 round nod to Charlie Harris.
Middleton was a tough competitor, bringing out the best in great fighters. Against the elite, he lost more than he won, but he remained a tough out for anyone. He lived around Baltimore after his fighting career ended, and died in January 2014 at age 71.