This week in boxing history, PBC delivers a knockout in a clash of legendary champions, serves up a featherweight Fight of the Year and celebrates a trio of heavyweight title thrillers, including the crowning achievement for “The Cinderella Man.”
June 13, 1935 – James Braddock beat Max Baer by unanimous decision to win the world heavyweight championship at the Madison Square Garden Bowl in Queens, New York, and cap one of the sport’s biggest career comebacks.
Baer was a 10-to-1 favorite in his first title defense against Braddock, a former light heavyweight contender who had lost 20 fights in less than four years while battling injuries before upsetting three opponents to get a shot at the championship. Braddock, dubbed “The Cinderella Man” for his unprecedented rise, defeated Baer in convincing fashion to score not only the Upset of the Year but one for all time.
June 15, 1984 – Thomas Hearns stopped Roberto Duran in the second round to retain his WBC super welterweight title at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Hearns, a 2-to-1 favorite in his second title defense, dropped Duran twice in the final 30 seconds of Round 1 before ending the fight with a crushing right hand that sent Duran tumbling face-first into the canvas.
June 17, 1954 – Rocky Marciano beat Ezzard Charles by unanimous decision to retain his world heavyweight championship in a high-action thriller at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York.
Making his third title defense, Marciano was taken 15 rounds for the only time in his career by Charles, who failed in his second attempt to become the first former heavyweight champion to regain the world title. The fighters met in a rematch at Yankee Stadium three months later, when Marciano scored an eighth-round KO in The Ring’s Fight of the Year.
June 17, 1979 – Danny Lopez knocked out Mike Ayala in Round 15 to retain his WBC featherweight title at the Convention Center Arena in San Antonio.
After Ayala took an early lead in the back-and-forth contest, which The Ring named Fight of the Year, “Little Red” sent the hometown challenger to a knee in both the seventh and 11th rounds. Referee Carlos Padilla waved an end to the bout after the second knockdown, but the fight was resumed after the timekeeper said Ayala got up at the count of nine. Lopez finished the job in the 15th, though, when he dropped Ayala in the corner with a pair of hard rights.
June 18, 1941 – Joe Louis knocked out Billy Conn in Round 13 to retain his world heavyweight championship before a crowd of 54,487 at New York’s Polo Grounds in one of the greatest title fights of all time.
Louis was an 11-to-5 favorite entering his 18th title defense and outweighed the former light heavyweight champion by about 30 pounds, but Conn was ahead on two of the three scorecards and even on the third after staggering "The Brown Bomber” in Round 12. Conn pressed on for the knockout in the 13th, but Louis landed a series of hard rights and finished the challenger with a right to the head in The Ring’s Fight of the Year.