Billy Backus

Inducted in 2000


Billy Backus is one of two world titleholders from Canastota. As an amateur, Billy won an Adirondack AAU tournament and a Niagara Golden Gloves title as a featherweight. Phase one of his professional career included nine wins, seven defeats and a draw between 1962 and 1965. He came out of a short retirement during which he trained and got himself into ironman shape and resumed boxing under the tutelage of Tony Graziano, a former manager of Carmen Basilio. His first fight was a round one knockout of respectable contender Todd Purtell. He won 14 of his next 15 bouts, losing only to Percy Pugh, whom he later defeated twice.

In 1970, Billy Backus was one of Syracuse’s most popular fighter and top-ten ranked welterweights. His first title fight was against Jose Napoles, supposedly an easy breather for the champ. But Billy came on like a freight train, opened a deep cut above the champion’s eye and earned a TKO to become the new welterweight champion of the world.

He fought a couple non-title bouts, and then lost his title to Napoles on June 4, 1971. After seven more years, Billy finally hung up his gloves for good. His lifetime professional record was 48 wins, 20 losses, 5 draws and 26 knockouts.

Billy is the nephew of welterweight/middleweight boxing champion Carmen Basilio,

Billy currently lives in Canastota and is a Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Athletic Commission.

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