1942-03-27 Joe Louis w co 6 (15) Abe Simon, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD

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1942-03-27 Joe Louis w co 6 (15) Abe Simon, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD. Referee: Eddie Joseph. After making a reasonable start, Louis (207½) began stalking Simon (255½) and as the second round drew to a close two cracking rights to the jaw dropped the challenger, who was saved by the bell at the count of ‘two’. Surprisingly, Simon came out with rush in the third, charging Louis all over the ring and looking to attack the body, but had the round deducted from him after going low with a blow to the thigh. It was much the same in the fourth before Louis went to work in the fifth, nailing Simon with at least two dozen blows from both hands until the latter was dropped by two cracking rights. Again the bell saved Simon, coming to his rescue when the count had reached ‘six’. After Simon charged out for the sixth it was only a matter of moments before he was smashed to the floor by a left hook, followed by a straight right to the jaw. The contest came to an end controversially when Simon was deemed to have lost on rising at the count of ‘ten’, only for the timekeeper to claim that the count had reached ‘nine’ when the challenger was on his feet. Regardless of that, the decision stood, the time of the kayo being announced as 16 seconds of the sixth.

With Louis joining the Army in June 1942, Maryland and then Ohio decided to set up a ‘duration’ championship. First into the arena came Alfred Big Boy Brown, a cousin of Louis, and also from Detroit, who outpointed Lou Brooks over 15 rounds on 23 November 1942 at The Coliseum, Baltimore, Maryland and he cemented that result with a ten-round points win at the same venue against Pat Comiskey on 21 December. Although that fight was probably not billed as such, The Ring correspondent claimed it to be a successful defence. Meanwhile, on 29 December at the Auditorium, Columbus, Ohio, Harry Bobo, an Army corporal stationed at Camp Lee, outscored Buddy Walker over ten rounds to win the Ohio version of the title. Matters came to a head when the two men met at The Coliseum, Baltimore on 25 January 1943, with Bobo winning on points over 15 rounds. The title then changed hands after Lee Q. Murray stopped Bobo in the eighth round at Oriole Park, Baltimore on 9 August 1943, but Murray ceased to be recognised after twice being outpointed over ten rounds at The Arena, Cleveland, Ohio by Jimmy Bivins on 1 December 1943 and 29 February 1944. Neither of the Murray v Bivins fights were billed as involving the ‘duration’ title but were generally considered as such.

Earlier, on 12 March 1943 at Madison Square Garden, Bivins had outpointed Tami Mauriello over ten rounds for what was thought at the time to be the NYSAC version of the title, although that billing never quite materialised At this stage of his career, Bivins, rated the world’s number one in two weight divisions, was inactive for over a year on military service after joining up on 1 March 1944, and, with the ‘duration’ title getting such bad publicity, the public quickly lost interest. Bivins eventually came back to run up an unbeaten sequence of 12, including a draw against the former NYSAC light heavyweight champion, Melio Bettina, but forfeited any title aspirations he may have had after losing three on the trot, to Jersey Joe Walcott, Murray and Ezzard Charles.

Towards the end of 1944, in an effort to help swell the Army Relief Fund, Louis took on several unpaid exhibition bouts during a 15-month period. One of them was against one Johnny Davis at the Auditorium, Buffalo, New York on 14 November 1944. Not many people realised at the time that exhibitions were banned by the State Athletic Commission, and this one went ahead as four-round contest to a decision. When asked if Louis’ title was at risk, John Phelan, the NYSAC chairman, stated that it was not as 15 rounds was the stipulated distance for a championship fight. The New York Evening Post went on to say “what would happen if Louis was knocked out?”. In the event it did not matter as Louis put Davis away inside 53 seconds with the first right hand he threw.

Once Billy Conn was released from the Army in September 1945, followed by Louis a month later, both men were quickly signed up for the long-awaited return that would gross $1,925,564, the second largest amount ever. With Conn reinstalled as The Ring magazine’s number-one challenger, the other men who made up the top ten were Mauriello, Bivins, Bruce Woodcock, Elmer Ray, Freddie Schott, Arturo Godoy, Walcott, O’Dell Riley and Lee Oma. There was no room for Joe Baksi and Murray who had both held down the number-one spot at some stage or another during the previous two years.