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Jersey Joe Walcott

Walcott Almost Upsets Joe Louis

Prominent boxing promoter Mike ("Uncle Mike") Jacobs in late 1947 set up what was supposed to be a ten-round charity exhibition match between World Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis and Walcott. It turned into a title match after the New York State Athletic Commission ruled that any match of more than six rounds with Louis had to be for the title. Odds makers gave Walcott little chance against the Brown Bomber.

Before a sold-out crowd of 18,000, Walcott suckered Louis with a right-hand lead and then dropped him with a left hook in the very first round. Spectators were incredulous, applauding wildly for the plucky Walcott. Walcott wasn't through. In the fourth round, Louis, confused by the "Walcott Shuffle," which involved shifting the feet around so that first the left and then the right were the lead, and pivoting the body to match, was dropped again by the challenger.

Perhaps sensing that he was comfortably ahead on points, Walcott took it easy on Louis in the final rounds of the fight. Nevertheless, boxing fans, as well as Louis, were all convinced Walcott had cinched the fight. Referee Ruby Goldstein agreed, observing, "Walcott punched his ears off." But the two judges—Frank Forbes and Marty Monroe—gave the fight to Louis.

Years later, Walcott recalled: "After the fight, Joe put his arm around me and whispered in my ear, 'I'm sorry.' I looked across the ring, and I could tell that Louis thought he had lost the fight. In fact, he wanted to leave the ring, but his handlers held him back."

The following year, on June 25, Louis and Walcott met once again, although this time Louis was clearly the dominant force, knocking out Walcott in the 11th round. Shortly after winning his rematch with Walcott, Louis announced his retirement from the ring. The retirement of Joe Louis after just over eleven years as heavyweight champ set the stage for a match between Walcott and Ezzard Charles for the now-vacant World Boxing Association heavyweight title. The two faced off on June 22, 1949. Walcott lost a 15-round decision to Charles and promptly announced his retirement. Manager Bocchicchio had other ideas for Walcott, who was now 35. The two took a short vacation together, after which they issued a press release announcing that Walcott had changed his mind and would continue his boxing career. Walcott won a match in Sweden against Ollie Tandberg and once again hinted at retirement. Again, Bocchicchio persuaded him to continue boxing.

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Famous Sports StarsBoxingJersey Joe Walcott Biography - Born In Merchantville, New Jersey, Blackburn Takes Over As Trainer, Loses To Four Top-ranked Fighters