Best I Faced: Eric Lucas

Eric Lucas (left) meets then-reigning WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler before their January 2005 bout. (Photo by Keld Navntoft/AFP via Getty Images)

Badass fighter Eric Lucas was able to overcome whatever shortcomings he had with tough determination and hard work. After two unsuccessful attempts to win a world title, Lucas’ perseverance was finally rewarded when he won the WBC super middleweight belt in the early 2000s and held it for nearly two years.

Lucas was born on May 29, 1971 in Montreal, Canada. His early years were particularly difficult, but they shaped him as a person and served him well in his boxing career.

“My childhood wasn’t the easiest,” Lucas told The Ring. “I don’t know anything about my father. My mother raised my brother and I alone; I am the oldest. My mother did her best but we missed the basics like clothes and food.

“Oddly enough, I’ve had the chance to thrive in the sport and have the life I have today. Boxing has given me a better life.”

Lucas was first introduced to boxing when he was 11 years old and weighed 72 pounds.

“I played in a hockey league,” he said. “I had a friend who boxed at a gym; He invited me to the gym to see, so that’s when I started working out. I was a very athletic kid. I chose boxing because I wanted to be a professional in a sport. I thought it would be easier to play boxing than hockey.”

“…I was starting to think that one day I might be world champion.”

Lucas won a national championship and had an amateur record of 88-18 before turning pro in December 1991 as a junior middleweight.

His early hopes were rejuvenated when he drew two of his first six fights. The Canadian quickly grew to be a super middleweight and won the national title in his 15th fight. He added a WBC regional title before losing for the first time to Bryant Brannon while fighting for the NABF title in August 1995.

“Brannon was just having a bad day at work,” said Lucas, who dropped a 12-round lopsided decision. “I hadn’t quite reached my physical maturity yet.”

After rebounding with a win, Lucas was surprisingly picked to face off against WBC light heavyweight champion Fabrice Tiozzo in January 1996 in Saint-Etienne, France.

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“I was treated really well in France by the promoter of the fight,” said Lucas, who gave it his all and recovered from a third-round knockdown but lost a unanimous decision in 12 rounds. “The boxing fans screamed my name at the end of the fight because they appreciated my bravery and my performance. It was a really good experience for my first world title fight.”

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Lucas’ performance was enough to earn him a fight with pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr. in Jacksonville, Florida in June 1996.

Roy Jones Jr. would stop Lucas in 11 laps. (Photo by John Iacono/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (SetNumber: X50968)

“I received an invitation to a fight with the best fighter of my generation,” he said. “I had the chance to do a training camp in Cuba, the country known for having the best fighters. I did 11 rounds with Roy Jones Jr. I didn’t do the 12 laps because the doctor stopped me because I had a bad cut on my eye. At the end of that fight, I started to believe that one day I could be world champion.”

Lucas continued to hone his skills over the next few years. He battled the hard-hitting Antwun Echols to a tie, defeated veteran Kevin Pompey (UD 10), defeated former world champion challenger Segundo Mercado (KO 5) and earned local braggart rights by wide-passing Alex Hilton (UD 10).

England’s Glenn Catley arrived in Montreal in December 1999 to face Lucas in a WBC 168-pound title eliminator.

Lucas would eventually take the WBC super middleweight title by knocking out Glenn Catley in 2001. (Photo by Robert Laberge – Allsport/Getty Images)

“A few weeks ago I injured my right hand badly and since the fight was very important to me, I didn’t want to cancel,” he explained. “So I trained as best I could and a few hours before the fight I had a syringe in my hand hoping not to feel the pain. But unfortunately the pain came back in the third round and I couldn’t use my hand fully anymore.”

Ultimately, Lucas was stopped a minute into the last lap.

The loss would have deterred smaller men, but when Davey Hilton Jr. was stripped of the WBC title, Lucas’ team was able to bring Catley back to Montreal to challenge the vacancy in July 2001.

“[Because of] what happened in the first fight and I was fighting with just one hand I was very confident for that fight,” said Lucas, who stopped Catley in seven rounds. “My training was perfect. I had no injuries. My weight loss was perfect. Everything was just perfect and I felt ready for this fight.

“Becoming world champion meant a lot to me because I wasn’t the one [who was ever expected] to be a champion.”

But now Lucas was champion and he wasn’t going to give it up without a fight. He reeled off three title defenses against the respected trio of Dingaan Thobela (TKO 8), Vinny Paz (UD 12) and Omar Sheika (UD 12).

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“Each fight had its own meaning,” he explained. “A few months earlier, Thobela lost a fight in a close and controversial decision to Dave Hilton Jr. and so I was obliged to give him a chance. So it was really important for me to win this fight without a doubt.

“Even though he was at the end of his career, Vinny Paz was very popular and the opportunity to fight with him in his country was a chance for me to have some good visibility [to the boxing world].

“Omar Sheika had fought Stéphane Ouellet a few years earlier, who was very popular in Quebec. Sheika was known as a strong fighter and having the opportunity to fight him in Quebec was a good opportunity for me to show that I didn’t become champion by accident.”

Lucas next clinched his title to face Markus Beyer in April 2003 in Leipzig, Germany.

“I’m just saying I still don’t get it to this day [how] I lost that decision,” said Lucas, who was obviously still hurt by the highly controversial split decision that went in Beyer’s favor. “I do not have anything to say in addition.”

A rematch was ordered by the WBC, but it never happened and Lucas eventually faced Danny Green for the interim title.

“I don’t really know what happened in negotiations for a rematch against Beyer and finding myself in the ring with Danny Green – I don’t get it,” he said. “This fight shouldn’t have happened because I tore a muscle in my ribs a week before. That loss (Lucas was stopped in six laps) was the beginning of the end for me.”

Lucas craved another shot at a world title and his trainer Stephan Larouche was able to help his protégé secure a bout with WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler in January 2006 in Brondby, Denmark.

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PART 2 and PART 3

“Stephan warned me it wasn’t going to be an easy fight,” said Lucas, who was stopped in 10 rounds. “I told him I want this fight anyway because I wanted a world championship fight before I retired.

“Despite the defeat, it was a positive experience for me. I have no regrets about this fight, I did what I wanted to do.”

Lucas retired for over three years before deciding to make a comeback. He lost his second fight against Librado Andrade (RTD 8) and was finally eliminated.

Looking back, Lucas is satisfied with his performances in the ring.

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Lucas highlight film on YouTube

“Early on in my pro career, I wasn’t destined to have the career I had,” said Lucas (39-8-3, 15 KOs). “I had to work harder than average. I didn’t have a natural talent, so I had to work more than the others who had natural talent. I knew that if I wanted to do well in boxing, the secret was to believe in it and work hard. The effort was worth it.

“Fighting 50 professional fights, including eight world championship fights, and winning four of them. For me I can say that I have really succeeded in my professional boxing career.

Lucas, now 51, is married with two daughters and lives in Magog, about 90 minutes from Montreal.

In retirement he initially stayed in boxing and worked for Interbox. He has since owned several businesses, including a sports bar, coffee shop and ice cream shop, but decided it wasn’t for him and is no longer involved in any of them. He especially likes to play golf.

He kindly took the time to chat with The Ring about the best he’s battled against in 10 key categories.


Michael Kessler: “He had a strong jab. From the first push I received I knew it was going to be a long evening.”


Roy Jones Jr.: “It was difficult to land [a punch on him]because he had very good footwork and when he was on the ropes he had his hands up. And his defense was perfect. I didn’t have enough experience to thwart him.”


Jones Jr.: “His hands were blurry. He was so fast. His hands were unpredictable.”


Jones Jr.: “At the time I was contemplating my next one [attack]he had already changed places.”

The cleverest

Jones Jr: “[I have] No choice [but] to paraphrase Roy Jones Jr. With all his skills, he was smart enough to use those skills perfectly.”


Fabrice Tiozzo: “At that time he was a real light heavyweight and I was a little super middleweight. I was young and physically immature.”


Librado Andrade: “I’ve never hit an opponent so hard on the chin as in this fight, and his legs never buckled.”


Michael Kessler: “I don’t know if it was because I was at the end of my career, but every hit that hit me hurt me.”


Jones Jr.: “He could do whatever he wanted in every way.”


Jones Jr.: “No doubt it was Roy Jones Jr. He was the best pound-for-pound player in the world at the time. It was very impressive for me and I feel privileged to have the chance to fight him on HBO.”

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].

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