1954-08-11 Archie Moore w rsc 14 (15) Harold Johnson, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD

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1954-08-11 Archie Moore w rsc 14 (15) Harold Johnson, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD. Referee: Ruby Goldstein. Right up to the finish the contest had been closely fought with both men boxing well and cleverly negating each other’s work at times. In the tenth round, Johnson (172½) had Moore (173) down from a right to the jaw for ‘four’ and the champion was angry when the referee counted on to ‘eight’, which was contrary to the rules at the time. Realising he could be behind in the scoring, despite tiring Moore began to go up a gear in the 13th and in the following session he finally caught up with Johnson. Feinting his challenger into position, Moore smashed home a left-right-left combination to the jaw and Johnson was down. Although he was up at ‘six’ again the referee counted to ‘eight’ before allowing the contest to continue. But within moments of the resumption it was clear that Johnson, who was being hammered from head to body without return, was in serious trouble and the fight was halted on the 56 second mark.

Fast running out of opposition in his own division, Moore looked towards the heavyweights and a big-money fight against world heavyweight champion, Rocky Marciano. After eliminating Nino Valdes, he moved in that direction, while his next title defence would be against the middleweight champion, Carl Bobo Olson, who had outpointed Joey Maxim over ten rounds at the Cow Palace, San Francisco, California on 13 April 1955 to gain his opportunity in a higher weight class. Alarmingly, prior to the Valdes fight Moore was temporarily suspended by the Californian Boxing Commission, due to an alleged organic heart condition which ultimately proved negative.

Despite losing to Moore, Johnson was still seen by The Ring magazine as the top-rated challenger for the title. It was therefore a bit of a shock when almost two months later, on 8 October, he was knocked out inside two rounds at The Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Oakland Billy Smith in a stunning upset. A hard-hitting veteran who had been a pro since 1941, Smith failed to build on his new status and three fights later, having lost two of them, he had retired.