1946-06-07 Willie Pep w co 12 (15) Sal Bartolo, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD
1946-06-07 Willie Pep w co 12 (15) Sal Bartolo, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD. Referee: Frank Fullam. Content to stick to his boxing in the early rounds, Pep (126) merely bided his time while piling up the points, but in the fifth and eighth he gave the rugged Bartolo (125¼) a taste of things to come when opening up with solid blows. Then, in the 12th session, having handed out a steady beating, Pep finally opened up and standing his ground he cracked in a short right and left hook followed by a terrific right to the jaw that left Bartolo on the floor to be counted out on the 2.41 mark. This was Pep’s 100th victory in 102 contests.
On 25 July Pep took on Jackie Graves, The Ring magazine’s number two contender, in a non-title fight that has become famous down the years for the fact that the champion predicted he would win the third round without throwing a punch. Graves, who had only lost two in 39 contests and had beaten Harry Jeffra, Charley Riley, Luis Castillo, Tony Olivera, Ham Wiloby, Charley Cabey Lewis and Jackie Wilson was certainly no slouch when it came to boxing skills. Taking place at The Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Pep was as good as his word when stopping Graves in the eighth after knocking him down nine times and winning the third in the manner he had said he would.
Severely injured in a plane crash on 8 January 1947, Pep fooled just about everyone when getting back into action in mid-June and taking on board six non-title bouts in the space of five weeks before defending his title against Jock Leslie.