Jeff Fenech’s fourth world title belt has joined the rest of his collection at his home in Sydney’s inner west.
The boxing legend was retroactively awarded the title at the World Boxing Council convention in Acapulco, Mexico last week, 30 years after his infamous fight against Azumah Nelson.
Fenech says it’s recognition of something he and his fans have felt since the 1991 bout in Las Vegas.
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“It’s redemption for me, it’s recognition of what all Australians and most people in the world know,” Fenech told Sporting News.
“I’ve always said, none of these belts define what I’ve done, it’s the love and the respect I get from the best fighters in the world.
“When your peers who are the greatest in their eras give you credit, then you know you’ve made it.”
They don’t get much greater than Roberto Duran and Julio Cesar Chavez, and both men were among those gathered on stage to congratulate Fenech.
Such is the mutual respect, Fenech asked the icons of the sport to sign the new belt for him.
“To be on stage with Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Tarver and Nonito Donaire, all those guys there congratulating me,” Fenech said.
“Straight after it, Chavez said, ‘I was at the fight, you won the fight very, very easily.’
“That all made me feel good.”
The WBC’s decision triggered an outpouring of appreciation from Fenech’s fans in Australia and around the globe.
Despite the plaudits and recognition for his performance against Nelson, Fenech says he wouldn’t change how it played out all those years ago.
“Would I swap the belt for the life that I’ve got today? Not a chance,” he said.
“I’m much happier with my life and my family than I’d ever be with four, five, six belts.
“I’m in a great position mentally at the moment, that’s what life’s all about.
“People say you could have lost out on millions, this and that, but the greatest thing that happened is I’m here today, happy as ever, not because of the belt, but because I’m married.
“Would I have been married and happy for 26 years? I doubt it if I was a four-time world champion.
“I would have been over in America doing things. I wouldn’t have the life I have today.
“My life is dedicated to my children and my wife at the moment and I don’t think I would have been in that position or would have had that mindset if I’d got that title.
“I’m happy to have the belt there but everybody knows I won the fight.”
By his own admission, Fenech was never the same fighter after the heart-breaking decision in Las Vegas.
“The Marrickville Mauler” was stopped by Nelson in the eighth round of a rematch with Nelson in Melbourne in 1992, but he believes the robbery in the first fight changed the course of his career.
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“There wouldn’t have been a second fight had I won the first fight as convincingly as I did,” he said.
“I wasn’t interested in a rematch, I was interested in going up and trying to fight Pernell Whittaker.
“Azumah Nelson’s a great fighter, came back and beat me, I’ve never made any excuse about that.
“It’s history now and the WBC have done something they’ve never done before.”