1947-07-16 Rocky Graziano w rsc 6 (15) Tony Zale, The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA - WORLD

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1947-07-16 Rocky Graziano w rsc 6 (15) Tony Zale, The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA - WORLD. Referee: Johnny Behr. Up until the sixth round the champion had appeared to be in control, having cut Graziano (155¼) over the left eye in the second, dropped him in the third with a right to the jaw and punished him severely. Coming out for the sixth Zale (159) went for the kill, but it was the snarling, wild-eyed Graziano, his right eye now almost closed, who found the blows to finish the contest. Rights after rights landed on Zale, who stumbled around the ring in a defenceless state and when he finally dropped to the floor the referee called it off on the 2.10 mark when the count had reached ‘two’, mindful of the recent Sugar Ray Robinson v Jimmy Doyle world welterweight title tragedy.

Although suspended by the NYSAC, the NBA, apparently oblivious to any other reasons why Graziano should be banned, were therefore shocked shortly after he had won the championship under their jurisdiction to find out that he had gone absent without leave during the war before being given a dishonourable discharge. In line with their own rules, the NBA were then forced to release a statement saying that they rejected any participant in boxing who had not fulfilled his trust to his country. However, following a favourable poll among associated NBA States, with the NYSAC still sitting on the sidelines, the third Graziano v Zale fight was eventually accepted by New Jersey.

Meantime, other men lining up for a crack at the title who were in the top five, included the likes of Cecil Hudson, Jake LaMotta, Bert Lytell and Marcel Cerdan, the European champion. Hudson beat LaMotta but then went on a losing run, while the latter lost to Billy Fox in a fight that would become infamous down the years. It was Lytell, having seen off Watson Jones, Major Jones and Jackie Darthard, who was given the number-one slot in The Ring magazine ratings after Cerdan lost his European title to Cyrille Delannoit on points over 15 rounds at the Heizel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium on 23 May 1948, but ultimately it came to nothing when he was beaten by Charley Doc Williams.