This week in boxing history, PBC highlights a title defense by “The Brown Bomber,” a broken jaw for the GOAT, two welterweight championship bouts and a Knockout of the Year.
March 27, 1942 – Joe Louis stopped Abe Simon in Round 6 to retain his world heavyweight title at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Louis defended his title for the 21st time. Due to his Army service during World War II, “The Brown Bomber” would fight just once over the next four years.
March 28, 1981 – Sugar Ray Leonard stopped Larry Bonds in the 10th round to retain his WBC welterweight title at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.
Bonds was just the third southpaw Leonard faced in his pro career and lasted longer than most people anticipated. The champ, though, dropped Bonds once in Round 4 and again in Round 10 before referee Arthur Mercante stopped the fight.
March 31, 1973 – Ken Norton beat Muhammad Ali by split decision in a 12-round heavyweight bout at the San Diego Sports Arena.
Ali, who lost for just the second time in his career, entered the ring wearing a robe with “People’s Choice” on the back that Elvis Presley gave to him. He never wore it again after having his jaw broken by Norton, who was fighting in his hometown in the first of their three meetings.
March 31, 1990 – Terry Norris knocked out John Mugabi in the first round to win the WBC super welterweight title at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida.
Norris staggered “The Beast” with a left hook in the first minute of the fight. Mugabi almost survived the round, but Norris sent him facedown to the canvas with a right to the chin that ended the bout. The Ring named the stoppage Knockout of the Year.
April 1, 1961 – Emile Griffith knocked out Benny “Kid” Paret in Round 13 to earn the world welterweight title at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Paret reclaimed the title from Griffith in September by winning a split decision. Their third meeting in March 1962 resulted in tragedy as Paret was knocked unconscious in the 12th round and died 10 days later of injuries sustained in the bout.