Boxing On This Day includes hundreds of quirky anecdotes, legendary characters and big-fight highlights – it’s an irresistibly dippable boxing diary, with an entry for every day of the year.
The book is also a triumph of painstaking research on the part of author Nick Parkinson, who admits his head is now reeling with reliving so many legendary dust-ups, not to mention with wisecracks from the fighters of yesteryear.
"“I fought Sugar Ray Robinson so many times I got diabetes,” quipped US heavyweight Jake ‘The Raging Bull’ LaMotta, after suffering a beating in the last of six fights with his rival. And Nick knows just how he felt.
Here, Nick presents his pick from This Week in Boxing History – heavy on that man Sugar Ray, Mormon heavyweight champs, human pistons, Porthcawl brawls, young Amir Khan and Chinese gold…
24th August 2008
Zou Shiming won host nation China’s first ever Olympic boxing gold medal after Mongolia’s Serdamba Purevdorj was forced to retire with an injury 19 seconds into the second round of the light-flyweight final in Beijing. Shiming – China’s most successful amateur boxer ever – won gold again four years later in London before turning professional.
25th August 1950
Sugar Ray Robinson needed just 52 seconds to knock out Jose Basora and win the Pennsylvania State version of the world middleweight title. Basora hit the deck four times before he was counted out after being caught cold by the early onslaught. Robinson had wanted to make a statement after being jeered by the crowd following a 15-round defence of his world welterweight title two weeks previously against Charley Fusari. The first round blow-out was a surprise: Puerto Rican Basora was one of only two men to avoid defeat to Robinson in the first eight years and 55 fights of his career, when he held the American maestro to a ten-round draw in 1945.
26th August 1995
Pernell Whitaker coasted to a unanimous points decision in defence of his WBC welterweight title against Scotsman Gary Jacobs in Atlantic City. The skilful American was given a count in the 11th round but TV replays showed it was a slip that put him down. Embarrassed, Whitaker cranked it up a notch in the last round to twice floor Jacobs in the final 30 seconds. Jacobs, who was on his back when the final bell went, was also docked a point for excessive holding in the last round, making the lopsided scores 117-109, 118-109 and 118-107.
27th August 1943
Jack Dempsey, the former world heavyweight champion, once said of Henry Armstrong: “He was a human piston. I never saw a better small man and I never expect to.” But by now the little buzz-saw had run flat and Armstrong’s relentless punching was not what it once was when he met contender Sugar Ray Robinson in front of 15,371 at Madison Square Garden. It was a collision of the former and future
world welterweight champions – but it was far from competitive. Robinson, who at the time was a corporal in the US Army during the Second World War, won every round of a ten-round non-title Boxing On This Day fight. Armstrong announced his retirement immediately after the fight but returned to the ring a year later before finishing in 1945. Robinson, who was still three years away from getting a belated shot at the world title, was reported to have taken it easy on Armstrong in an utterly dominant display.
28th August 1959
Gene Fullmer stopped fellow former champion Carmen Basilio early in the 14th round for the world middleweight title, which had been stripped from Sugar Ray Robinson for inactivity. Fullmer regained the belt he lost to Robinson in 1957 but for Italian-American Basilio it was the first of three failed attempts to win back the belt. Basilio, a former onion picker from Canastota, was worn down in a slugging match and when he was taking hard rights pressed against the ropes in the 14th, his trainer Angelo Dundee called for it to be stopped. This fight was so good the pair met again a year later, when Fullmer got the job done two rounds quicker. Fullmer, a Mormon from Utah, would reign for three years.
29th August 2004
Amir Khan, a 17-year-old from Bolton, had to settle for silver after a plucky run to the Olympic lightweight final, where he was outpointed by Cuban Mario Kindelan. Cuba again dominated with Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriolkis Gamboa, Yan Barthelemi and
Odlanier Solis all winning golds in Athens. Russian Alexander Povetkin and American Andre Ward also won gold but Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin had to settle for silver.
29th August 1960
The real drama did not start until Dick Richardson had retained his European heavyweight title after British rival Brian London was pulled out by his corner at the end of the eighth round due to a bad cut. London, known as The Blackpool Rock, was upset because he felt the cut was caused by a head-butt in the seventh round of a badtempered bout. With the ring announcer about to go through the formalities, London piled into Richardson’s trainer Johnny Lewis which sparked a brawl in the ring between the fighters’ cornermen, managers and family. Police flooded the ring to break it up in what became known as the ‘Brawl in Porthcawl’. “When it was finished I went over to shake hands with Richardson and some little fellow took a swing at me,” said London. “So I had a go back.”
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