This week in boxing history, PBC goes back more than 100 years to celebrate the first world heavyweight championship fight under modern rules, honor one of the sport’s greatest rivalries and highlight the longest bout of the 20th century, in addition to remembering a brutal middleweight war and a thrilling featherweight title showdown.
August 28, 1959 – Gene Fullmer stopped Carmen Basilio in Round 14 (of 15) to win the vacant NBA (which became the WBA in 1962) world middleweight title at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California.
After Sugar Ray Robinson was stripped of his championship due to inactivity, Fullmer claimed the title in The Ring’s Fight of the Year, which marked the fifth straight year Basilio competed in boxing’s top bout. In a June 1960 rematch, Fullmer stopped Basilio in Round 12 to retain his title.
August 29, 1885 – John L. Sullivan beat Dominick McCaffrey on points in Round 7 (of 6) to win the inaugural world heavyweight championship under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules at Chester Park in Cincinnati.
Sullivan, who entered the bout as the American bare-knuckle heavyweight champion, knocked McCaffrey down several times in a fight that was scheduled for six rounds but continued to an unofficial seventh round. It was not only the first heavyweight title fight in which three-ounce gloves were used, it also was the first to incorporate the three-minute round format.
August 29, 2015 – Leo Santa Cruz beat Abner Mares by 12-round majority decision to win the vacant WBA featherweight title at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
In an action-packed PBC bout in which both fighters were cut by accidental headbutts and combined to throw more than 2,000 punches, the unbeaten Santa Cruz held off an early charge by Mares to become a three-division world champion after already having earned titles at 118 and 122 pounds.
August 31, 1915 – Ted “Kid” Lewis defeated Jack Britton by points over 12 rounds to earn the world welterweight title at the Boston Arena and become the first British boxer to win a world championship in the United States.
Named one of the 100 greatest title fights of all time by The Ring in 1996, the bout was the first championship meeting (and second overall) between the Hall of Famers in one of boxing’s greatest rivalries. From 1915 to 1921, Lewis and Britton fought 20 times, totaling 224 rounds, and swapped the world title multiple times.
September 3, 1906 – Joe Gans defeated Battling Nelson via disqualification in Round 42 to regain the world lightweight title at the Casino Amphitheatre in Goldfield, Nevada.
Gans, who had relinquished the lightweight title to fight Joe Walcott for the welterweight crown in 1904, knocked Nelson down a couple of times in the fight before Nelson floored Gans with a low blow, leading referee George Siler to call a foul and declare Gans the winner of the longest bout of the 20th century. The boxers fought two more times for the lightweight title in 1908, with Nelson winning both bouts by knockout.