1948-07-26 Freddie Mills w pts 15 Gus Lesnevich, White City Stadium, Shepherds Bush, London, England - WORLD

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1948-07-26 Freddie Mills w pts 15 Gus Lesnevich, White City Stadium, Shepherds Bush, London, England - WORLD. Referee: Teddy Waltham. A return contest that lacked the thrills and sparkle of the first fight saw Mills (171½) take the referee’s decision by a very close margin. Nat Fleischer, of The Ring magazine, felt that Mills had won by a point under the British system of scoring, while stating that had the fight taken place under NYSAC Rules in America the champion would have retained his crown. There was far less action than before, but the two knockdowns that Lesnevich (174¾) suffered in the tenth round and Mills’ fast finish were the deciding factors. Lesnevich was severely handicapped from the opening session onwards after being cut over both eyes, and the extra problems of making the weight ultimately took the sheen off his performance.

With Mills contracted to fight South Africa’s Johnny Ralph in November for the right to meet the British and British Empire heavyweight champion, Bruce Woodcock, during the following summer, the NBA set up an eliminating contest between Joey Maxim and Lesnevich to decide his next opponent. Billed for the American title, Maxim outpointed Lesnevich over 15 rounds at The Garden, Cincinnati, Ohio on 23 May 1949, which was followed by the London promoter, Jack Solomons, provisionally booking the winner to meet Mills early in 1950.

A pro since 1941, Maxim had run up 87 fights, losing 16 mainly against heavyweights, and had recently lost a 15-round split decision to Ezzard Charles in a heavyweight elimination tournament. With wins over Lee Oma, Nate Bolden (twice), Red Burman, Lou Brooks (twice), Curtis Sheppard (twice), Buddy Scott, Buddy Walker (twice), Ralph DeJohn, Phil Muscato (twice), Jersey Joe Walcott, Jimmy Webb, Bob Foxworth, Olle Tandberg, Tony Bosnich, Joe Kahut (twice), Bob Satterfield, Jimmy Bivins and Pat McCafferty, he was certainly ready.

Although Maxim had beaten Foxworth, the latter had been a rising star who was lying second in The Ring magazine ratings until being forced to retire with a detached retina, having just stopped Leonard Morrow inside four rounds on 1 September 1948. In a brief career of 23 bouts, losing three, Foxworth had knocked out or stopped Satterfield, Johnny Colan (twice), Fitzie Fitzpatrick, Enrico Bertola and Morrow.

Another meteoric rise saw Sylvester Perkins jump into the number-two spot in the November 1948 ratings after beating Tommy Yarosz and McCafferty, but following a points defeat at the hands of Bert Lytell he dropped out of the rankings as quickly as he had entered them.