This week in boxing history, PBC highlights knockout wins by three heavyweight greats, a triumphant finale for a middleweight legend and a Northern Irishman earning a second world title in a thrilling featherweight matchup.
July 25, 1902 – Jim Jeffries knocked out Bob Fitzsimmons in Round 8 (of 20) to retain his world heavyweight title at The Arena in San Francisco.
Jeffries, a 5-to-2 favorite, made the fifth successful defense of the championship he won from Fitzsimmons in their first meeting in June 1899. He made two more title defenses before retiring undefeated at 19-0-2 with 16 KOs in 1905. Jeffries returned to the ring in July 1910 to challenge Jack Johnson for the world championship but was stopped in 15 rounds.
July 26, 1928 – Gene Tunney stopped Tom Heeney in Round 11 (of 15) to retain his world heavyweight title at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York.
Tunney, a 3-to-1 favorite, was making his second title defense after beating Jack Dempsey twice to first win and then retain the championship. With the retired Dempsey working in Heeney’s corner, Tunney gained a 10th-round knockdown before finishing the challenger in the 11th, and earned The Ring’s first-ever Fight of the Year award for his effort.
July 28, 1952 – Rocky Marciano knocked out Harry “Kid” Matthews in Round 2 (of 10) to win a heavyweight title eliminator at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York.
Marciano dropped Matthews, who hadn’t lost since August 1943, with three left hooks to the jaw to earn a shot at heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott. Marciano, named The Ring's 1952 Fighter of the Year, then knocked out Walcott in September to win the title, and would defend it six times before retiring with a record of 49-0 with 43 KOs.
July 30, 1977 – Carlos Monzon beat Rodrigo Valdes by 15-round unanimous decision in a rematch to retain his WBA and WBC middleweight titles at Stade Louis II in Fontvieille, Monaco.
Monzon, who was knocked down for the first time in 13 years in Round 2, retired after the fight with a record of 87-3-9 with 59 KOs. The Argentine great, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, was the middleweight champion for nearly seven years and made a division-record 14 title defenses, which was eventually eclipsed by Bernard Hopkins.
July 30, 2016 – Carl Frampton defeated Leo Santa Cruz by 12-round majority decision to win the WBA featherweight championship at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Frampton, who vacated his two 122-pound world titles to move up in weight, dealt Santa Cruz his first career loss in an action-packed fight to become the first two-division champion from Northern Ireland and subsequently was named The Ring’s Fighter of the Year. In a rematch in January, Santa Cruz beat Frampton by majority decision to reclaim the title in Las Vegas.