1935-06-13 Jim Braddock w pts 15 Max Baer, MSG Bowl, Queens, NYC, New York, USA - NY/NBA/GB

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1935-06-13 Jim Braddock w pts 15 Max Baer, MSG Bowl, Queens, NYC, New York, USA - NY/NBA/GB. Referee: Jack McAvoy. Scorecards: 9-5, 11-4, 7-7. Nicknamed the ‘Cinderella Man’, Braddock (193¾), in winning the title (recognised by all bar the IBU), provided one of the greatest upsets in the history of the division. Given no chance as an 8 to 1 shot, he shocked everybody in boxing when taking the points decision. Building up a solid points lead in the opening four rounds as Baer (209½) clowned, Braddock was shaken up by a crashing right to the jaw in the seventh and was on the verge of going down before being let off the hook as the champion stood back to admire his work. Throughout, Braddock carried the fight to Baer, shooting out the left, both up and down, while ripping his right into the ribcage to cause maximum discomfort. The fact that Braddock was so aggressive surprised Baer and took him out of his stride, but it did not account for the latter’s lack of ambition. Baer also lost three rounds when penalised twice for the use of a backhand punch and once for going low. Immediately following the contest Baer claimed that he had broken both hands in the fifth, an argument that failed to stand up on inspection, although the damage could have been done in training. Having tried to take Braddock out from the fifth through the seventh, landing well with lefts and rights, Baer failed to continue in that vein and continued to act the clown when a sustained attack could well have saved his title.

Two weeks after Braddock’s victory, a young negro heavyweight called Joe Louis, who had only been a pro since July 1934, hit the headlines when he stopped the former champion, Primo Carnera (w rsc 6 on 25 June at the Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC). Louis then went on to record further successes against King Levinsky, Baer, Paulino Uzcudun and Charley Retzlaff to take his record to 23 straight.

Although the ‘black’ title had reverted back to Larry Gains when he outpointed Obie Walker over 15 rounds at the Tigers’ Rugby Stadium, Leicester, England on 20 July, it had little bearing on the world scene and would soon pass into history following the rise of Louis, who almost single handedly put ‘black’ fighters back into heavyweight title contention following the dark days of Jack Johnson. However, there was to be a blip in his fortunes when he met another former champion, Max Schmeling, who kayoed him inside 12 rounds at the Yankee Stadium on 19 June 1936.

Following the result, the NYSAC ordered Braddock, who was contracted to make his first defence at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, to defend his title against the German in September 1936. However, on 18 August 1936, Braddock made a successful application to the NYSAC that the fight be postponed because he had developed arthritis in his right hand.

Meantime, on 18 August 1936 at the Yankee Stadium, Louis had got back on the winning trail with a three-round kayo win over Jack Sharkey, another former champion, and by February 1937, excluding exhibition bouts, he put victories over Al Ettore, Jorge Brescia, Eddie Simms, Bob Pastor and Natie Brown under his belt.

With the Braddock v Schmeling fight now pencilled in for the summer of 1937, to be held in an outdoor stadium, Braddock made the decision to break his contract with the Madison Square Garden promoters in order to fight Louis for promoter, Mike Jacobs, in Chicago. On hearing the news, those running the Garden immediately filed a suit with the courts that Braddock’s contract was binding, but were refused when the court ruled that the contract placed an unreasonable restraint upon the champion’s liberty. They then appealed against the ruling and even had tickets printed and put on sale for Braddock v Schmeling to take place on 3 June 1937. Still, despite Schmeling weighing in successfully on the day, it came as no surprise when Braddock failed to make the weigh-in that morning as everyone involved knew he was in training to defend against Louis in Chicago.

Bearing in mind the earlier legal judgement, the NYSAC felt that the only remaining action left open to them was to suspend both Braddock and Louis from fighting in New York for an indefinite period rather than strip the former. With many secretly relieved that there was now no chance of the title passing into Nazi Germany’s hands in the immediate future, a furious Schmeling, who was claiming the title by default, was left to ponder his next move. He would not have to wait too long. Having been given an undertaking that he would be meeting the winner of Louis v Braddock in London, England on 30 July, Tommy Farr, the British and British Empire champion, was understandably upset when Mike Jacobs, the promoter, representing both Braddock and Louis, then offered ridiculous terms that would allow him to walk away from any agreement he had with the Welshman. Then, calling Jacobs’ bluff, on the afternoon of the big fight taking place in Chicago Farr signed to meet Schmeling at the White City Stadium, Shepherds Bush, London on 30 September in a fight that would be recognised by the BBBoC as being for the vacant world title due to Braddock’s earlier refusal to meet the German.