1948-09-21 Marcel Cerdan w rtd 12 (15) Tony Zale, Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA - WORLD

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1948-09-21 Marcel Cerdan w rtd 12 (15) Tony Zale, Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA - WORLD. Referee: Paul Cavalier. Although the champion was in the fight for several rounds, especially the fourth, it was clear that after the seventh it was a lost cause as Cerdan’s body punches began to take their toll. Showing plenty of skill, allied to effective blows from head to body, Cerdan (158) was gradually wearing Zale (159) out, and in the 11th he had the latter all over the place before dropping him with a left-right to the jaw. Saved by the bell, Zale was helped back to his corner and retired. Under New Jersey rules a fighter could only be retired during the round, so it was the 12th rather than the 11th that the fight was officially over.

After buying himself out of his managerial contract, back in Europe Cerdan had warm-up bouts against Dick Turpin, the British champion, and Lucien Krawczyk before flying out to America where he was obligated to meet Zale in a return. Meanwhile, the New York promoters were trying to buy Zale, who was on the verge of retirement, out of his contract to allow Cerdan to defend against Jake LaMotta or Steve Belloise. Eventually an agreement was reached for Cerdan to meet LaMotta in Detroit, Michigan in June 1949.

A veteran of 72 wins in 88 fights, years later LaMotta admitted that he had taken a dive against Billy Fox in order to obtain himself a crack at the middleweight title. Despite losing four times to Sugar Ray Robinson, LaMotta had been the first man to beat the great man. Other rated men he had beaten included Henry Chmielewski, Jimmy Edgar (twice), California Jackie Wilson, Jimmy Reeves, Fritzie Zivic (three times), Coley Welch, George Costner, Bert Lytell, Jose Basora (twice), George Kochan (three times), Walter Woods, Holman Williams, Anton Raadik, Tommy Bell (three times), Tony Janiro, Johnny Colan, Tommy Yarosz, Robert Villemain, O'Neill Bell (twice) and Joey DeJohn.