1963-06-01 Willie Pastrano w pts 15 Harold Johnson, Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - WORLD

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1963-06-01 Willie Pastrano w pts 15 Harold Johnson, Convention Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - WORLD. Referee: Jim Olivas. Scorecards: 69-68, 69-67, 68-69. Having spent most of his career fighting heavyweights, with Pastrano (174) making the most of his opportunity the split decision in his favour saw him finally become a champion. For the entire contest Pastrano jabbed and moved while the counter-punching Johnson (173½) failed to take the fight to his challenger. On two occasions, in the fifth and 13th, the harder-punching Johnson had Pastrano at his mercy after landing heavy rights to the jaw, but when he failed to follow up the latter was able to recover. It was the higher work-rate that won the fight for Pastrano, and at the finish he was unmarked while Johnson had a badly swollen nose and damage to his left eye.

At the beginning of August when Pastrano refused to meet Henry Hank (now fully fit), the Michigan Boxing Federation decided to hold their own version of the championship, bringing in a leading contender, Eddie Cotton, to face the local man. Hank, who had been a pro since 1953, had won 56 of 76 bouts and had never ducked anyone, beating Charley Cotton (twice), Rudy Ellis (twice), Jimmy Beecham, Charley Joseph, Willie Vaughn, Neal Rivers (twice), Holly Mims, George Benton, Jesse Bowdry (twice), Sixto Rodriguez (twice), Rory Calhoun, Victor Zalazar, Hank Casey, Randy Sandy, Joey Giardello, Chic Calderwood, Allan Harmon and Jimmy Ellis, prior to winning the Michigan State title in his last contest.

Meanwhile, Pastrano took in three non-title bouts, losing to Gregorio Peralta on points over ten rounds at The Auditorium, Miami, Florida on 20 September in one of them.

In January 1964 Angelo Dundee, Pastrano’s manager, was reported to be negotiating a title fight against Peru’s Mauro Mina, who had come through a successful detached retina operation and had been given the all-clear by the doctors. With the prospect of that fight coming off quickly not seeming too good a few weeks later, following pressure from the authorities to defend or be stripped, Pastrano signed for a defence against Peralta. For Mina it was almost the end of the line, and having lost to Peralta he had just five more contests before bowing out of boxing after beating the future European champion, Piero Del Papa, on 5 November 1965.