On May 4, 1973, Croydon-based Sir Philip Game ABC’s Frankie Lucas defeated Liverpool’s Carl Speare in that year’s ABA middleweight final at the Empire Pool, Wembley. This was Lucas’ second consecutive ABA championship victory, having beaten another Liverpool, Tony Byrne, in 1972. Still only 20 years old at the time of his triumph over Speare, Lucas seemed destined for great things.
A notable big puncher, Lucas was also prone to cuts and when he traveled to Belgrade early next month to participate in the European championships, BN was a bit cautious in his prediction that he could get it right, “Lucas is particularly effective with a great one at the top, but I’d feel a bit more optimistic about his chances if he went back to his old style of natural aggression, as he seems to be too focused on beefing up his defense these days. ” Lucas lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual winner, Russian Vyacheslav Lemechev. His fine form saw him ranked number one for the entire year in the BN amateur ratings and he appeared to be a shoe at the 1974 Commonwealth Games, in which he hoped to win gold for England.
The ABA dropped a bombshell in October 1973 when Speare was chosen for the Games team and the Croydon man was understandably enraged. In a BN article titled ‘Lucas Jumping Crazy Over Games Snub,’ Frankie stated, “I’m too drowned to think about what to do next. I had my heart set on winning the gold medal in Christchurch. I had offers to turn pro, but held back because I wanted to win the Commonwealth title. Now they do this to me and after they left me out of the Olympic team also last year, I start to think that someone does not like me. “
Soon he made a decision. Since he was born in San Vicente, he contacted that federation to ask if he could box for them at the games, and they hired him. So the 1974 Commonwealth Games middleweight tournament would have some excitement and some needle, and was watched with considerable interest. Speare continued to impress England. He won three of four international competitions for England that season and was part of a very strong England team that also included Billy Knight, Robbie Davies, Mickey Abrams and Pat Cowdell.
Both boys won their first two contests in the games and then faced each other in the semi-final, with the loser winning a bronze medal. I can remember the excitement this fight generated as the games were well televised. Lucas and Speare fought another tough and close contest, with national coach Kevin Hickey stating that “their ABA end was close, the decision to pick Speare over Lucas was close and the semi-final could have gone either way, and Frank made it. ” . Lucas must have felt great satisfaction since, although he did not feel enmity towards his opponent, he had a large account to settle with the authorities.
Now all he had to do was win the final. He faced a Zambian, Julius Luipa, who had performed extremely well and was the slight favorite. None of this mattered at all to Frankie who, after being cut off in the first round, took the lead in the second and dropped his opponent before finally knocking him down with a great right hook.
Both Lucas and Speare turned professionals in 1974 and while their paths never crossed within the paid ranks, they both had respectable careers. Lucas twice contested the British middleweight title losing to two of the best, Kevin Finnegan and Alan Minter.