1962-06-23 Harold Johnson w pts 15 Gustav Scholz, Olympic Stadium, Berlin, Germany - WORLD

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1962-06-23 Harold Johnson w pts 15 Gustav Scholz, Olympic Stadium, Berlin, Germany - WORLD. Referee: Ike Powell. Scorecards: 73-70, 72-64, 72-70. Fighting outside America for the first time the champion was up against a very experienced southpaw in Scholz (171), who gave him plenty of trouble in what turned into a gruelling fight. Although Johnson (172½) took an early lead Scholz never far behind. Having been hurt by a right to the jaw in the sixth Scholz came back strongly in the tenth with a left-right to the head to stagger his rival. Scholz looked like being stopped in the final session when suffering a badly gashed left eyebrow, but he was allowed to continue to the relief of his camp.

Having taken time out following his win over Scholz the authorities were looking for Johnson’s next defence to be against the number-one contender, Mauro Mina. After Mina beat Eddie Cotton (w pts 10 at the National Stadium, Lima, Peru on 18 January 1963), the way was clear for the match to be made. Unfortunately, within a matter of weeks of the announcement that Johnson would be meeting Mina in Nevada on 4 May 1963 it was reported that Mina had an arthritic right hand, as well as a serious eye problem, and was out of the fight. It was then announced that Henry Hank would replace Mina, the date being shifted to 1 June, but before anyone could hold their breath Hank suffered a fractured cheekbone in training. Following that, Willie Pastrano, having beaten Wayne Thornton (w pts 10 at the Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada on 4 May), was quickly drafted in.

Known as ‘Willie the Wisp’ for his movement around the ring, his hand-speed and ability to avoid punches coming his way, Pastrano had turned pro at 16 as a welterweight and had boxed for long periods as a heavyweight. Not even rated when he got the call, Pastrano had won 57 of 76 contests, beating the likes of Jimmy Martinez (twice), Jacques Royer-Crecy, Bobby Dykes, Al Andrews, Joey Maxim, Chuck Spieser (twice), Paddy Young, Rex Layne, Pat McMurtry, Charley Norkus, John Holman, Dick Richardson, Willi Besmanoff, Brian London, Joe Bygraves, Franco Cavicchi, Jerry Luedee, Alonzo Johnson, Sonny Ray, Tom McNeeley and Thornton.