This week in boxing history, PBC celebrates another batch of action-packed title bouts, including the crowning of the youngest welterweight champion, two contests that were named Fight of the Year and the final fight for a Hall of Fame featherweight who died in the prime of his career.
July 17, 1976 – Pipino Cuevas stopped Angel Espada in the second round to win the WBA welterweight title at Plaza de Toros Calafia in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.
The 18-year-old Cuevas dropped Espada three times in Round 2 to become the youngest boxer to ever win a 147-pound championship. He would go on to defend his title 11 times, including two rematches with Espada, before losing to Thomas Hearns in August 1980.
July 18, 1951 – Jersey Joe Walcott knocked out Ezzard Charles in Round 7 to win the world heavyweight championship before a crowd of 28,272 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.
Walcott, a 9-to-1 underdog, earned the title in his fifth attempt, and at 37 years old became the oldest boxer ever to win the world heavyweight championship until George Foreman beat Michael Moorer at age 45 in 1994. Walcott dropped Charles, who was making his ninth title defense, with a left hook to the jaw to end the third of their four meetings, which The Ring named Fight of the Year.
July 20, 1997 – Bernard Hopkins stopped Glen Johnson in Round 11 to retain his IBF middleweight title at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
Hopkins, who was making his fifth title defense, dominated the undefeated challenger before landing a flurry of punches to the head that prompted referee Pat Russell to stop the fight. It was the first time that Johnson, who would go on to win the IBF light heavyweight title in 2004, was stopped in 33 pro bouts, and it was just one of two knockout losses in his 77-fight, 22-year career. Hopkins would eventually make a division-record 20 title defenses and become the undisputed world middleweight champion until losing to Jermain Taylor in July 2005.
July 21, 1982 – Salvador Sanchez stopped Azumah Nelson in Round 15 to retain his WBC featherweight title at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Nelson, who had just 13 pro bouts at the time, took the fight on short notice after Mario Miranda pulled out with an injury. Sanchez, who was making his ninth title defense, dropped the future two-division champion in Round 7 and again in the 15th before referee Tony Perez jumped in to stop the fight. Sanchez died three weeks later in an automobile accident in Querétaro, Mexico.
July 23, 1988 – Tony Lopez beat Rocky Lockridge by unanimous decision to win the IBF super featherweight title at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California.
Lopez, fighting in his hometown, was dropped for the first time in his career in the eighth round of The Ring’s Fight of the Year before rallying against Lockridge, a two-time world champion who was making his third title defense. Lopez also won their rematch in March 1989 by unanimous decision and would go on to become a three-time champion in two weight divisions.