Francesco Damiani (born 4 October 1958) is an Italian former professional boxer who competed from 1985 to 1993. He was the first WBO heavyweight champion, having held the title from 1989 to 1991, as well as the European heavyweight title from 1987 to 1989. As an amateur he won silver medals in the super-heavyweight division at the 1982 World Championships and 1984 Summer Olympics.
He participated at 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, where he lost to the eventual silver medalist Piotr Zaev in the quarter-finals. The following year he won the European Amateur Championships in Tampere. At the 1982 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Munich, he beat the legendary Teofilo Stevenson but lost to Tyrell Biggs in the final. In 1983 in Varna he became European champion for the second time, beating Ulli Kaden. He was ranked world’s #1 super heavyweight by the AIBA in 1984 (ahead of Tyrell Biggs, who was ranked #2.) At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles he again lost to Biggs in the final, despite Biggs’ home crowd booing at the judges decision who believed Damiani won the contest (since he threw more punches and was moving forward for most of the contest) which led to the leading BBC boxing commentator Harry Carpenter, who was commentating for the BBC sport Olympic coverage, to say that “..it the worst boxing decision in all my years of boxing commentating”. Francesco Damiani was the Italian boxing team coach for the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
Damiani began his professional career on a tear, with 27 consecutive victories over limited opposition. He defeated Tyrell Biggs in a rematch of their Olympic meeting, stopping him on a cut, and then won the newly created WBO Heavyweight title with a 3rd-round KO victory over Johnny DuPlooy on 6 May 1989. Damiani hit a brick wall when he took on 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist Ray Mercer in 1991 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Damiani was ahead on points but went down after a Mercer left uppercut broke his nose, and he was counted out by the referee in the 9th round.
In 1991, he had been chosen to face Evander Holyfield for the undisputed heavyweight championship, but an injury prevented him from getting into the ring.