Editor’s Letter: Mark Potter was much more than “almost human.”

IT was almost one of the most unexpected coronations in British heavyweight championship history when Mark Potter came so close to defeating Danny Williams in an unforgettable encounter in October 2000.

That night at Wembley Conference Centre, with Williams’ right arm dangling from a dislocated shoulder, Potter pressed home the lead before Denny – in a performance he called his proudest – somehow salvaged victory with his left hand. It was a truly heroic performance by Williams, and his role as the great underdog Potter will ensure he is never forgotten.

“I have to do what I have to do to survive,” Potter said in May, seven months after being told stomach cancer would kill him. “Now they told me that I have only three months to live. I will beat this and prove the doctors and the NHS wrong.

Potter died at the weekend aged just 47. He fought until the end, smiled at his family and friends, always asking them not to share his suffering. Potter underwent chemotherapy to prolong his life, along with alternative therapy that he hoped would work wonders.

Potter made his debut in July 1997, outpointing JA Bugner over six rounds on the undercard of Naseem Hamed’s victory over Juan Gerardo Cabrera. Also on the bill, introduced by Frank Warren, was Dean Francis, a talented fighter who lost his life to cancer four years ago. Like Potter, Francis fought bravely to survive against the most formidable and unforgiving opponent of them all.

Matt Legg, who fought at heavyweight from 2001-2014, has fond memories of his time with Potter. “We were sparring and he, being a gentleman, went easy on me because I was a brand new pro,” he recalled. “He said we’re going, and I’m grateful for that. It was an honor to share the ring with him.”

Danny Williams and Mark Potter during the UK and Commonwealth heavyweight title fight at Wembley on October 22, 2000 (John Gichigi/ALLSPORT)

Known as the “White Shark”, Potter compiled an official record of 21-5 (14). He defeated Danny Watts to lift the Southern District heavyweight title in March 2003, a victory that effectively sealed his shot at Williams five months later. Despite “retiring” after a loss to Michael Sprott in 2003, Potter competed in MMA and was an active supporter of the unlicensed boxing circuit, where he beat Butterbean without a stoppage.

Less famous was Potter’s 2018 showdown with Danny Bardell. Bardell, who has Down syndrome, always wanted to be a boxer, and when Potter allowed himself to be counted out in the second round, he made a young man’s dreams come true.

This kindness is the theme of Potter’s life. Former European 154kg champion Wayne Alexander said: “He was always friendly, always had a smile on his face. I’ll never forget how close he came to winning the British heavyweight title. “He was always kind and helped me with a favor that I will never forget.”

Those sentiments were echoed by another former fighter, longtime friend David Walker. “He was a tough fighter but a true gentleman,” Walker said. “He had a loving, caring heart and I will always look up to him in so many ways.”

A personal trainer until a year ago, Potter was in great shape when she was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. He initially assumed it was a training injury before numbness spread to his calves, prompting him to be checked out by his doctor. He says he overdoes it at the gym and was shocked when doctors told him he had stage four stomach cancer.

With his beloved wife Hannah and two children Sam and Rosie, the fighter refused to accept it as a death sentence. After all, as most people understand, the best way to fight the disease is early diagnosis.

Frank Warren, who will pay tribute to Potter at this weekend’s show at the O2, said of the fighter he often promoted: “Mark was a great fighter and an even bigger character who took part in many entertaining fights over the years. a popular figure on the fight scene, especially in the London area.

“Mark was a fighter to the end and never stopped throwing punches – may he rest in peace.”

Audley Harrison, who fought Potter when they were both promoted to the amateur code, wrote: “He gave me a hell of a fight in the London ABAs… In retrospect, a lot of boxers have come through in the last few years. You certainly appreciate your time here.”

Potter was more than the man who almost beat Danny Williams. The way he behaved in the fight against the evil disease and the kindness he showed throughout his life is proof of this.