This week in boxing history, PBC looks at a wide selection of world title fights, from a short-lived heavyweight bout to a fierce battle between Mexican bantamweights.
December 12, 1981 – Salvador Sanchez retained his WBC featherweight title with a 15-round split decision over England’s Pat Cowdell at the Houston Astrodome.
The Mexican champion, who made three title defenses that year, had a difficult time against the crafty Cowdell before knocking him down late in the final round. The Ring named Sanchez, along with Sugar Ray Leonard, Fighters of the Year for 1981.
December 12, 1986 – James “Bonecrusher” Smith won the WBA heavyweight title with a first-round TKO of Tim Witherspoon at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Witherspoon was scheduled to defend his title in a rematch with Tony Tubbs, but Tubbs had to withdraw because of a shoulder injury. Instead, Smith, who had lost a decision to Witherspoon 18 months earlier, scored an upset when he floored the champion three times in the opening round.
December 14, 1971 – Ruben Olivares stopped Jesus Pimentel in the 11th round to defend his WBC and WBA bantamweight crowns at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Pimentel, who retired after the fight, was competing for a world championship for the first time in his 11-year, 84-bout career. Olivares knocked down his Mexican countryman in the sixth round and was in firm control of the bout when Pimentel’s corner threw in the towel.
December 15, 1995 – Arturo Gatti won the IBF super featherweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Tracy Harris Patterson at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Gatti gained a second-round knockdown of Patterson, who was making the first defense of the title he had earned five months earlier by beating Eddie Hopson. Gatti beat Patterson by unanimous decision in a championship rematch in February 1997.
December 17, 1952 – Archie Moore won the world light heavyweight title with a 15-round unanimous decision over Joey Maxim at the Arena in St. Louis.
Despite becoming a world champion for the first time four days after his 36th birthday, Moore would retain his title for nearly a decade, including two defenses in rematches against Maxim.