1954-09-19 Robert Cohen w pts 15 Chamroen Songkitrat, Rajadamnern Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand - WORLD

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1954-09-19 Robert Cohen w pts 15 Chamroen Songkitrat, Rajadamnern Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand - WORLD. Referee: Teddy Waltham. Scorecards: 73½-70½, 73½-72½, 71½-72. In a close contest, Cohen (117¼), who finished with a damaged right hand and a cut over the right eye, just about deserved the split decision over the tough Songkitrat (117), having earlier failed to make the weight before being given two hours to get down to the required 118lbs. Showing his class, the French-Algerian scored well to head and body throughout, impressing with his punching power, and breaking the Thai’s nose in the seventh. Having given it his best shot once again Songkitrat had failed to win the title, but he had proved that he was a man to be reckoned with while putting his country on the boxing map.

The following day, Pierre Cossemyns outpointed Bobby Sinn at The Stadium, Sydney, Australia in a fight that had initially been billed for the Australian version of the world title, and of 15 rounds duration. However, Cossemyns, who had already been informed by the World Boxing Commission that he would be meeting the winner of Cohen v Songkitrat, would not comply with the billing, successfully demanding that the distance be reduced to 12 rounds. Unfortunately for Cossemyns, while still in Australia, he lost his top spot when beaten twice on points over 12 rounds at The Stadium, Sydney by America’s Billy Peacock before 1954 was out. Peacock was then outscored by Sinn (l pts 12 at The Stadium, West Melbourne, Australia on 29 October), and the World Boxing Commission were back where they started regarding a logical challenger for the French-Algerian.

Cohen later forfeited NBA recognition when he failed to engage Raton Macias (who had outpointed Nate Brooks over 12 rounds at the City Bullring, Mexico City, Mexico on 26 September to win the North American title) within 90 days of his victory over Songkitrat. With there being no contractual conditions that forced Cohen to meet Macias he signed to fight the seventh-ranked Willie Toweel in Johannesburg, South Africa on 5 March 1955. Then, after beating Ghana’s Roy Ankrah in a non-title fight on 20 December, Cohen suffered serious injuries in a car crash in January 1955 which kept him out of the ring until the following September.

Having made their decision, come what may, the NBA matched Macias with Mario D'Agata for their version of the title. D’Agata (who had outpointed both Sinn and Peacock over 12 rounds at The Stadium, West Melbourne on 19 November and 10 December, respectively) was later replaced by Songkitrat after being shot in the chest following an argument with a business partner. A clever boxer with good punching ability, Macias had won all of his 16 contests since turning pro after the 1952 Olmpics, beating Manuel Armenteros, Peacock and Fili Nava (twice) prior to defeating Brooks.

A young man coming along well at this time was the French bantamweight champion, Hilaire Pratesi, who was now rated at number three by The Ring magazine, and already being lined up for a title shot after knocking out Nate Brooks inside five rounds on 27 June. Having also beaten Marcel Mathieu, Robert Meunier, Dante Bini, Amleto Falcinelli and Andre Valignat, and drawn with Emile Chemama, Pratesi was unbeaten in 27 contests. Just when things were looking extremely bright for him he was killed in a road accident in August 1955, thus following his brother, Honore Pratesi, to an early grave. Tragically, Chemama would also die in a car crash some seven months later.