1951-08-29 Kid Gavilan w pts 15 Billy Graham, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - NBA/NY

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1951-08-29 Kid Gavilan w pts 15 Billy Graham, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - NBA/NY. Referee: Mark Conn. Scorecards: 9-6, 7-7, 7-7. Under the complicated New York system of scoring, after one of the judges and the referee scored it 7-7 they were asked to go to the points system. While judge Frank Forbes gave it to Graham by 11-10, when the referee saw Gavilan as a 10-7 winner that decided it. Although the champion was prominent early on with his bolo punch looking spectacular, Graham (145) eventually found a way of dealing with it by moving inside at every opportunity. Having lost the early rounds Graham came back to take the fifth, sixth and seventh when outboxing and outpunching the bewildered Gavilan (145½), using long lefts and sharp rights. Thereafter, the battle seesawed as first one man took the initiative then the other, before the last five sessions, with the exception of the 13th, saw Graham seemingly doing enough to win. When the split decision in Gavilan’s favour was announced there was much dissent, but on reflection it had been based on the champion’s aggression against the counter-punching tactics of Graham.

On 24 September, Charles Humez defended the European title for the first time, knocking out Emile Delmine inside seven rounds at the Sports Palace, Paris, France, and although the EBU did not give the contest world title billing they continued to recognise Gavilan as the American champion only. When the NBA announced that Gavilan had to defend his title against Humez within three months, a prospective date of 17 December was later made known in the press. With Humez apparently concentrating on the middleweight division that date came and went, but at the end of December it was reported that the pair would decide the vacant world title on 28 March 1952, which was followed by the NBA demanding that Gavilan v Humez had to be held prior to 15 March.

Realistically, Humez, who obviously had difficulty making 147lbs at that stage, had already made his mind up before the year was out that he would be moving up to 158lbs, but it was not until 20 February 1952 that it was officially announced that he was giving up the European title due to increasing weight problems. At the same time the EBU intimated that Gavilan should now be recognised as the rightful champion.