Action fighter and fringe contender Bert Cooper passed away today
By Bill Tibbs
It was reported that one time heavyweight fringe contender, and all-action bomber, Smokin’ Bert Cooper (38-25, 31 KO’s) passed away on Friday after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. By the time pancreatic cancer is discovered, it is usually in the late, and non-treatable stage, and this appears to have been the case with Cooper.
Cooper didn’t win every fight he was in, and at times was his own worst enemy with his lifestyle choices outside of the ring, but when he was having a strong night he was as good as it gets for must-see-TV fight fans.
Cooper, trained by Joe Frazier early in his career, fought out of a squat, bob-and-weave style with a cross-armed (see: George Foreman) defense. And, he’d wade in and look to load up the hooks that crashed hard and fast when he got into punching range.
Cooper fought a who’s-who of his era and finished with a resume that included facing 16 undefeated fighters and list of opponents including Carl Williams, George Foreman, Orlin Norris, Ray Mercer, Riddick Bowe, Evander Holyfield, Michael Moorer, Mike Weaver, Corrie Sanders, Chris Byrd, Fres Oquendo and Joe Mesi to name a few.
Two of Cooper’s most memorable fights were his wars with champions Evander Holyfield and Michael Moorer.
Cooper took the Holyfield bout, in 1991, on short notice after Evander’s original opponent fell through. Cooper travelled to Holyfield’s hometown of Atlanta and had Holyfield reeling after catching him with a bomb in the 3rd round. Cooper was all over Holyfield and appeared to be a punch or two away from scoring a monumental upset. But, the tough champion hung on and went on to stop Cooper in the 7th round.
In the Moorer fight, in ‘92, Cooper and Moorer exchanged bombs with both fighters dropping each other 2 times. However, Moorer would come back to stop Cooper in 5 rounds.
While Cooper often lost when he stepped up, it wasn’t before giving the opponent everything he could handle and he always appeared a punch away from turning things around in the fight.
Cooper, from Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania, turned pro in 1984 and was at his best as a potential contender through the early 90’s. After that he was a rugged gate-keeper who fought everyone and anyone put in front of him. He retired in 2002 but returned in an ill-advised comeback in 2010, going 2-3 before finally retiring for good in 2012.
Cooper never hid his battle with substances from anyone and was always honest and up front about his drug use. In his retirement, after getting sober, Cooper spent time working with youth in the Philadelphia area.
Smokin’ Bert Cooper, as tough as they come, sadly passed on Friday after a short battle with cancer at age 53.
Thanks for the memories - Rest in peace, Bert.