Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Virgil Hill is a Joplin, Missouri fighter partly of Native American heritage who forged a solid connection between the state of North Dakota and the sport of boxing. This connection began in 1984 when Hill, then age 20, won a silver medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles (which could easily have been a gold had it not been for a close decision loss to his Korean opponent in the 165-lb. final).
After going eighteen straight fights without a loss to start his pro career, 'Quicksilver' (his nickname) was a challenger to Leslie Stewart of Trinidad for the latter's WBA light heavyweight tile in September 1987 in Atlantic City. After an even match in the early going, Hill floored the defending titlist twice in the fourth round - first with a left hook and the second time with an uppercut - to take the title on a TKO win.
A series of ten successful defenses followed, mostly in his adopted hometown of Bismarck, ND. Offers were being made for Hill to fight in Las Vegas and other cities, but Virgil chose the place of his 'roots' and 'hometown fans' to be the place of the majority of his defenses. Opponents in his first run as champion included Bobby Czyz, James Kinchen , Joe Lasisi , and Ramzi Hassan . Then superstar Thomas Hearns would meet - and defeat - Hill in Las Vegas by decision in June 1991 to end Hill's first reign as champion.
After a couple of fights over the next year or so, it was Hill pitted against 1984 Olympic teammate Frank Tate in September 1992 for the vacant WBA 175-lb. title (the same title that Hearns won from Hill, but which was vacated after Iran Barkley dethroned Hearns afterward). It was a 'grudge match' between the two, and Hill won the decision (and the title) on his home turf of Bismarck. Another string of ten defenses would follow, including a rematch with Tate, a close decision over Louis DelValle (who almost upset Hill), and a decision over IBF champ Henry Maske to unify the belts, before German phenomenon Darius Michalszewski scored a unanimous decision over Hill in June 1997 to win the WBA-IBF title.
Hill continued to fight, including against Roy Jones Jr. the following year, and was stopped in four. It was then on to the cruiserweights for the aging Hill, and he won a title at age 36 - the WBA cruiserweight title - by knocking down Fabrice Tiozzo three times to win the title in Villeneuve, France by TKO in the first. He made his first defense, also in France, against Jean-Marc Mormeck , but would lose both match and title on cuts after nine rounds. He then decisioned Donny Lalonde in July 2003 in a North Dakota-Manitoba 'border fight,' but later lost a disputed decision to Mormeck in a title rematch in South Africa in May 2004.
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