At The Top Of His Game
Marciano married his childhood sweetheart, Barbara M. Cousins on the last day of 1950. The couple eventually had one child of their own, Mary Anne, and adopted another, Rocky Kevin. Back in the ring soon after the wedding, Marciano continued his climb through the boxing ranks, fighting more and more powerful opponents, including Red Layne, whom he knocked out in six rounds on July 12, 1951.
Marciano faced his most powerful opponent yet when he squared off against former world champion Joe Louis on October 26, 1951. Louis was one of Marciano's idols, but at the end of his career, and Marciano, with thirty-seven wins to his credit so far, including thirty-two knockouts, was in his prime. The former champion went down under Marciano's onslaught in eight rounds. It happened after Marciano got Louis against the ropes, and managed to slip in a powerful left hook. Louis was stunned, dropping his guard, and Marciano immediately followed up with a right that knocked his hero out. "Imagine looking at Joe Louis lying there on the ropes," he was quoted as saying afterward by Newsweek. "And I did it. I don't know if I'm happy about it." So distraught was Marciano at felling his hero that he cried in the exchampion's dressing room after the match.
The fight with Louis cleared the way for a championship bout with the heavyweight champion of the world, 'Jersey' Joe Walcott in Philadelphia on September 23, 1952. Marciano got off to a bad start in the first round when he was knocked down. Off balance from then on, and behind on points, he got in one of his bynow-famous right hand punches to the jaw, flooring Walcott and knocking him out in the thirteenth round.