IT WAS virtually one of many unlikeliest coronations in British heavyweight championship historical past when Mark Potter got here so near defeating Danny Williams in an unforgettable encounter in October, 2000.
On that night time contained in the Wembley Convention Centre, with Williams’ proper arm dangling from his dislocated shoulder, Potter pressed his benefit earlier than Danny – in a efficiency he calls his proudest – in some way salvaged victory along with his left. It was a really heroic turnaround from Williams and the half through which big underdog Potter performed in it’s going to guarantee he’s by no means forgotten.
“I’ve simply bought to do what I have to do to remain alive,” Potter mentioned in Might, seven months after being informed abdomen most cancers would kill him. “Now I’ve been informed that I solely have three months to stay. I’m going to beat this, and show the medics and the NHS improper.”
Potter handed away, aged simply 47 years outdated, on the weekend. He fought to the top, smiling to his household and buddies, eager for individuals who have been all the time by his facet to not share his agony. Potter underwent chemotherapy in an effort to lengthen his life alongside various remedy that he hoped would offer a miracle.
Potter made his debut in July 1997, outpointing J A Bugner over six rounds on the undercard of Naseem Hamed’s victory over Juan Gerardo Cabrera. Additionally on that Frank Warren-promoted invoice was Dean Francis, the uber-talented fighter who misplaced his life to most cancers 4 years in the past. Like Potter, Francis valiantly scrapped for survival in opposition to probably the most formidable and unforgiving opponent of all of them.
Matt Legg, who campaigned at heavyweight from 2001-2014, has fond recollections of his time with Potter. “We used to spar and, being the gentleman that he’s, he took it straightforward on me as a result of I used to be a model new professional,” he remembered. “He mentioned we’ll go tip-tap, which I used to be grateful for. It was an honour to share the ring with him.”
Potter – often called “The White Shark” – compiled an official document of 21-5 (14). He defeated Danny Watts to raise the Southern Space heavyweight title in March 2003, a victory that successfully secured his shot at Williams, 5 months later. Although he ‘retired’ following a loss to Michael Sprott in 2003, Potter competed in MMA and was a eager advocate of the unlicenced boxing circuit, the place he pummelled Butterbean to a stoppage defeat.
Much less well-known was Potter’s contest in opposition to Danny Bardell in 2018. Bardell, who suffered from Down Syndrome, all the time wished to be a boxer and when Potter allowed himself to be counted out within the second spherical, he made a younger man’s goals come true.
That kindness is a theme of Potter’s life. Wayne Alexander, the previous European 154lbs champion, mentioned: “He was all the time pleasant, all the time had a smile on his face. I’ll always remember how shut he was to successful the British heavyweight title. He was all the time sort and helped me out with a favour, one which I’ll always remember.”
These sentiments have been echoed by one other former fighter, long-time pal David Walker. “He was a tricky combating man however a real gentleman,” Walker mentioned. “He had a loving, caring coronary heart and I’ll all the time look as much as him, in some ways.”
Potter, who was a private coach up till a yr in the past, was in terrific form when the most cancers analysis got here a yr in the past. He initially presumed it was a coaching damage earlier than numbness unfold to his calves and compelled him to get checked by his GP. Anticipating to be informed he’d overdone it within the health club, he was shocked when docs informed him he had stage 4 abdomen most cancers.
Alongside his beloved spouse, Hannah, and two youngsters, Sam and Rosie, the fighter refused to simply accept it as a demise sentence. In the end, as too many realise, one of the best ways to fight the illness is with an early analysis.
Frank Warren, who pays tribute to Potter at this weekend’s present on the O2, mentioned of the fighter he usually promoted: “Mark was an awesome fighter and an excellent larger character who was concerned in lots of entertaining fights over time and was a vastly widespread face across the combat scene, notably within the London space.
“Mark was a fighter proper to the top and by no means stopped punching – could he relaxation in peace.”
Audley Harrison, who fought Potter once they have been each on the best way up within the beginner code, wrote: “He gave me a hell of a battle within the London ABAs… Trying again, a variety of boxers have handed in the previous few years. Undoubtedly makes you admire your time right here.”
Potter was a lot extra than simply the person who practically beat Danny Williams. How he carried out himself throughout battle in opposition to a depraved illness, and the kindness he exuded all through his life, is testomony to that.