Bunce Diary: Tim Driscoll and the Swiss heist of 1991

An impressive Italian, a gallant Brit, a midnight dip and stolen crisps in Switzerland

THERE is a brief checklist of world title fights happening in Switzerland. 

In 1991, one contemporary November night time, a WBO title battle befell lower than one mile from the Swiss border within the Italian enclave of Campione D’Italia. The venue was the historic On line casino di Campione, which is within the city on the shores of Lake Lugano. The city is surrounded by Switzerland. Surrounded in each course. 

In that ring that night time was Italy’s 1984 Olympic champion, Maurizio Stecca, defending his WBO featherweight title. Stecca was an awesome little fighter. His challenger was Tim Driscoll, a florist from Bermondsey. It was a battle that deserves to be recognised for its high quality and quirky location.  

The on line casino the place the battle befell was changed with an enormous and towering eyesore in 2007; it closed in 2018 and opened once more earlier this 12 months. It has a historical past of thriller and intrigue going again to the spymaster days of World Battle II.  

The battle was buried on the time and stays that method to today. I watched it once more with Italian commentary and it’s excellent. It’s bloody and laborious, however with plain class. The battle is forgotten, however there was a memorable beano to that distant resort, a coach and airplane extravaganza with a wayward gang of boxing followers. 

The Driscoll journey (I’m certain) began in Romford, residence of Matchroom. I bought there good and early and there have been about 30 folks on the coach – they have been Tim’s loyal followers. There was quite a lot of Fila, white trainers and Italian denims. The Bermondsey Boys have been happening a jolly. The battle was that night time. 

The flight went to Milan, which is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Campione D’Italia. There was one other coach ready for the shuttle to the Lakes. We have been all staying in a pleasant motel on Lake Lugano. I had not managed to get any Italian lira. I by no means did it at both airport; I by no means did it, I went the entire journey with out spending a penny. I by no means had it to spend. 

The venue was not spectacular. It was about as spectacular because the earlier time a Fisher boxer travelled to a on line casino for a world title battle the place he was a giant underdog. That man was Lloyd Honeyghan, and everyone knows what occurred that night time in a ballroom at Caesars Atlantic Metropolis in 1986. Denzel Bentley, from the Fisher, has the identical kind of odds towards him on Saturday.    

Stecca had misplaced simply as soon as in 43 fights, his gold in Los Angeles in 1984 at bantamweight was spectacular. Driscoll had a great win over Steve Robinson, who on the time had a document of 4 wins and three defeats. He dropped Robinson. He had additionally had two ten-round wars with Johnny Good for the Southern Space featherweight title. It was a danger, however a danger value taking. The boys on the bus have been assured. 

On the venue, Nino Benvenuti was smiling his greatest Nino smile at ringside and shaking palms. It’s all the time a pleasure to be in his firm. He felt like real boxing royalty, and he was.  

I had numerous newspaper assignments for the night time. I feel that the Sunday Specific had put a cellphone in for me. I used to be additionally doing about six different Sunday and each day papers. It was a sensible earner, make no mistake. There was no cell phone motion; each paper had a free-phone quantity from European international locations and the USA. I used to be Steve Bunce in a single or two, Steve Early, Mark Hilton, Frank Ward and Steve Royce in others. I grew to love a few of my pen names. Not one phrase of copy was despatched by way of any kind of laptop; it was all phoned and dictated, and sometimes it was the identical individual taking the copy. “So, who’re we tonight?” I used to be typically requested. It was a busy night time for me. 

There was no different boxing on in Britain on that night time, however the sport was high-profile on the time; Chris Eubank had stopped Michael Watson simply six or so weeks earlier. Watson was simply out of a coma. 

On the on line casino, the battle was stopped by Freddie King in Driscoll’s nook on the finish of the ninth spherical. Tim was, in keeping with the scorecards, trailing closely; he was shedding 89-81 twice and 88-82. It was not that one-sided, nowhere close to that huge. It was compelling, slick and high quality. Driscoll had a broken nostril and cuts close to his proper eye. His face was swollen, however even within the final seconds of spherical eight he was chasing Stecca.   

Tim Driscoll was damaged in defeat. He may very well be pleased with the 9 accomplished rounds. 

I filed my copy and by the point I had completed the place was empty, only a lady with a brush. There was pasta and it was nice and free; I had two plates with Claude Abrams, the editor as soon as of this journal. After which we walked again beneath the celebrities, and I needed to dive within the lake. I needed to. It was one in every of my first abroad fights and it meant rather a lot. I had coated Driscoll as an novice.   

The next morning, I had a small sense of dread after I bought on the coach. I had been hungry after the swim, and I had taken the crisps from the mini bar. I had no lira, I by no means paid, and I simply bought on the coach. The Driscoll trustworthy began to float on, their baggage typically clanking with the unmistakable sound of glass on glass. There was a little bit of murmuring and then, simply because the doorways have been about to close, a lady from the entrance desk jumped on and, by means of a translator, began to name out totally different folks from totally different rooms. When she had exhausted her checklist and emptied the luggage belonging to the boys she had referred to as, she was standing in the midst of about 100 mini-bar particular bottles of vodka, gin, scotch and wine. I escaped with my crisps. It was not precisely the Italian job, however the boys gave it a great go. I bought residence late that night time and nonetheless had not spent a penny throughout my 20-hours within the Italian Las Vegas.  

Driscoll had two extra fights and give up and Stecca misplaced his title to Colin McMillan the next 12 months. Campione D’Italia continues to be in Switzerland.  

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