On this Day: Joe Louis has to be stopped from leaving the ring before he’s declared the winner of Jersey Joe Walcott


Joe Louis
Jersey Joe Walcott drops Joe Louis twice but is criminally judged the loser

Dec 5, 1947; Madison Square Garden, New York
JOE LOUIS had been world heavyweight champion for 10 years when he defended the title against 10/1 outsider, Jersey Joe Walcott. But a huge upset was brewing from the start. The challenger felled Louis, then 34 years old and clearly in decline, with perfect counter right hands in the first and fourth rounds. Walcott didn’t press his advantage but oozed the kind of defensive skill that would influence fighters like James Toney many years later. At the end of 15 rounds, a frustrated and embarrassed Louis was convinced he’d lost and tried to leave the ring only to be delayed by his handlers. Few could believe it when Joe was declared by ring announcer Harry Balogh as the winner via split decision.    

DID YOU KNOW? Unimpressed by Walcott’s credentials, the New York State Athletic Commission ruled the bout had to be promoted as an exhibition when it was first put to them.   

WATCH OUT FOR: The skills of Walcott, a truly majestic fighter, that impressed the 18,194 sell-out crowd inside Madison Square Garden.

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