1944-12-15 Sal Bartolo w pts 15 Willie Roache, The Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA - NBA

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1944-12-15 Sal Bartolo w pts 15 Willie Roache, The Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA - NBA. Referee: Tommy Rawson. Despite being cut on the left eye early in the fight, Bartolo (126) showed excellent movement, speedy footwork, good boxing skills, and later on sensible hitting and holding tactics to defuse the stocky Roache (125), whose work became more wild and ragged as the bout progressed. While the challenger was always dangerous, especially with right-hand swings, he was unable to do a great deal of damage. There would have been no complaints with the unanimous decision that went against Roache.

With Bartolo serving in the US Maritime Service he was not called upon by the NBA to defend his title in 1944, but by October of that year his manager had begun to throw out challenges to Willie Pep, the NYSAC champion, in an effort to bring the two men together. By the beginning of January 1946 negotiations were well under way for a Pep v Bartolo title bout, and on 5 February, Mike Jacobs, the New York promoter, announced that he had agreed for the fight to take place at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC on 1 March.

Unfortunately, an out of condition Bartolo, suffering a cold, pulled out of the fight on 23 February. Although the doctors could find nothing wrong with him it was of no benefit to those concerned. Despite Bartolo asking for more time and being told by the Commissioner that he could not have any, with Jacobs persevering a match was signed, sealed and delivered in early March for the Garden on 7 June.

Meantime, the NBA announced that before a unification could take place Bartolo would have to defend their version of the title. Thus, on 12 April, he was signed up to meet the veteran Scotch-Canadian fighter, Spider Armstrong, in three weeks time.