Fenech, Lewis lead tributes for the late Troy Waters
Former world-title contender Troy Waters has been remembered as a great fighter who was just one punch away from boxing glory.
Labelled "The Glamour With the Hammer" because of his good looks and punching power, Waters died on Friday aged 53 following a long battle with leukaemia.
One of three boxing brothers, all who won a national title and fought internationally, Waters was one of Australia's most stylish, accomplished and successful fighters of the 1980s and '90s.
He unsuccessfully challenged for a super welterweight world title on three occasions and finished with a record of 28-5 with 20 KOs.
Waters was outpointed by Italy's IBF world champion Gianfranco Rosi in 1989 and had title shots in the 1990s against two of the most feared and respected fighters of the era.
He was stopped in the third round of a brief but memorable contest by American superstar and WBC champion Terry Norris.
His last attempt was in 1994, when he lost a decision to Jamaica's WBC title-holder Simon Brown.
"He was a great fighter, a great person, a great human," Australia's three-division world champion Jeff Fenech said.
"He wasn't just skilful, he could punch as well and he could take a punch, which he showed against the best of them.
"He was a very courageous kid in and out of the ring."
Born in England in 1965, Waters emigrated to Australia as a boy.
He and older brothers Dean and Guy honed their pugilistic skills at Kulnura on the Central Coast under the tutelage of their father.
While he equipped his sons to fight, Cec was a dictatorial and controversial figure who pushed them hard inside the ring and out.
Troy won NSW and national amateur titles before turning professional in 1984.
He also won professional state and national junior middleweight titles in his fifth and seventh fights respectively.
Sandwiched between those bouts was his first loss, on a split decision, to South Korea's formidable In Chul Baek, a future WBA super middleweight champion who had 43 KOs in 47 wins.
It was a temporary setback for Waters, whose career grew under promoter and former pop singer Marty Rhone.
He won nine successive fights, collecting a Commonwealth title in that period, to earn his first world-title shot, but veteran Rosi proved too savvy for the 24-year-old.
Six consecutive victories after that loss propelled him into the fight with Norris, who had won 13 in a row, nine of them world-title fights,
Waters was floored in the first, dropped Norris in the second and the Australian was down again in the third.
Cuts around both eyes prevented him from continuing.
"I think he was one punch away from beating the guy who was the best fighter pound for pound on the planet at that time," said Johnny Lewis, Australia's most successful professional boxing trainer.
One more win earned him a final world-title shot but he lost a majority decision to Brown, who had a 40-2 record at the time.
Waters won seven of his eight fights after that loss, the sole defeat being a first-round KO to the great Costa Rican three-division world champion Felix Trinidad at New York's fabled Madison Square Garden.
It was the only time Waters was KO'd and he retired in April 1998.
"He always looked the part when he was in the ring," Lewis said. "Troy Waters looked every inch a polished athlete."
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