1948-02-24 Willie Pep w rsc 10 (15) Humberto Sierra, Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida, USA - WORLD
1948-02-24 Willie Pep w rsc 10 (15) Humberto Sierra, Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida, USA - WORLD. Referee: Jack Dempsey. It was little more than a workout for the champion as he put Sierra (126) down twice in the first two sessions before giving a brilliant display of defensive boxing and counter punching until deciding it was time to pick up the pace again. With the rain coming down heavily in the seventh, Pep (125½) went to work, dealing out vicious two-handed punishment, and in the ninth he dropped Sierra for ‘five’ with a short right to the jaw. Although the Cuban made it to the bell the end was in sight and coming out for the tenth he was set upon and driven to the ropes before a heavy right sent him crashing. With 22 seconds on the clock, the referee had seen enough and immediately called it off.
For the best part of a year, Sandy Saddler, a tall, awkward and extremely tough customer with an exceptional reach coupled to punching power, had been the outstanding challenger. He had beaten the future lightweight champion, Joe Brown, Oscar Calles, Cuba’s top-ranked Miguel Acevedo and Orlando Zulueta, and Willie Roache among others, in 93 contests, so it came as no surprise that Pep’s next defence would be against him.
The only blip on his copybook was a ten-round points defeat at the hands of Chico Rosa at The Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii on 29 June 1948, and had it not been for points being deducted in the fourth and seventh rounds Saddler would have been returned the winner. Although Rosa took over the number-one spot it was quickly back in the hands of Saddler as the man from Hawaii won just two of his remaining 25 contests before retiring in 1956.