‘UK’s hardest man’ amazed legendary boxer with reaction to his ‘best punch’

"Britain's hardest man" was once KO'd by a fearsome underground boxer – but survived his "most brutal" punch.

Lenny McLean was often dubbed the hardest man in the country, having had more than 3,000 unlicensed boxing fights, links to the criminal underworld and his sheer 18st presence.

But he met his match when he twice fought who many consider the greatest unlicensed boxer in history – former professional "Big Bad" Johnny Waldron.

Boxing historian Matt Legg, himself a former pro fighter, recalled the two bouts on his YouTube channel.

READ MORE: ‘Britain's hardest man’ was KO'd twice by 6ft 7in giant – and it cost him thousands

Their first match-up began surprisingly quietly.

“Strangely Lenny didn't attack for some reason, he just moved around the ring throwing a few jabs out,” Matt explained.

But after an uneventful first round, the 6’2” Waldron's corner man Mickey Holland told him to “make this look a bit more like a fight”.

Lenny McLean had clearly been given the same instruction. “Lenny come out and said to him ‘hit me hit me and waving his gloves to him," Matt continued.

“He was shouting ‘your granny hits harder than you’ and all this…”

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Lenny followed up his taunts with a savage flurry of blows which saw Johnny get "knocked from side to side".

He continued: “Johnny's thought ‘right, sod this I've got to try and keep him off me’ and he's thrown a left hook to try and slow Lenny down – but he’s actually caught Lenny nicely on the chin with a little left hook and without realising it Lenny's been knocked out on the floor.”

The crowd erupted, and for a few moments it was pandemonium – especially as a disorientated Lenny soon regained consciousness and started wildly swinging his fists at anyone in range – including the referee.

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Johnny later apologised to Lenny for the accidental KO as “it wasn’t meant to happen that way".

Both men were keen for a rematch and before long, they were in the ring once more.

Matt said: “Johnny trained hard, and Lenny was up for the fight. All respect to Lenny because he did like a challenge and he was a disadvantage being not from a boxing background.

“He's fighting ex-pros so you've got to give credit to Lenny…”

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Wary of the street-fighter’s determination to make up his his earlier defeat, Johnny wasted no time in delivering one of his trademark devastating left hooks.

Matt explained: “Johnny’s actually said it was one of the hardest punches he's ever landed on anyone and he couldn't believe that Lenny managed to get up.”

But Lenny was unsteady on his feet from that moment on, and there seemed little doubt how the fight would eventually end.

"He was unsteady, but he's still trying to fight so you've got to respect Lenny's fighting heart. Johnny said most men would have been asleep for a week after that punch," Matt added.

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The fight ended soon after and the outcome of both bouts perhaps shouldn't have been a surprise – given Lenny had never been a pro boxer unlike Johnny.

But that didn't stop his hunger for more. The pair met up once more in London’s Victoria Park, and Lenny suggested a third bout.

He continued: “Johnny always said he respected the fact that Lenny would still up for a challenge because it was his hardest unlicensed fight.

“He said Lenny gave him the most trouble, and it goes to show Lenny was the top fighter in that game”.

Unbeaten in a reported 23 unlicensed boxing matches, Johnny Waldron is considered by many to be one of the greatest unlicensed fighters of all time. But the biggest challenge he ever faced, he says, was Lenny “The Guv’nor McLean”.


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