Panama Al Brown vs. Pete Sanstol (1st meeting)

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1931-08-25 : Panama Al Brown 117 lbs beat Pete Sanstol 117 lbs by SD in round 15 of 15

World Bantamweight Title Bout

Brown defending his National Boxing Association & NYSAC World Titles
Sanstol defending his Montreal Athletic Commission & Canadian Boxing Federation World Titles

Referee Gen. John V. Clinnin, one of the three voting officials of this bout, was the President of the NBA at this time.
Judge Dr. Gaston Demers was Chairman of the Montreal Athletic Commission, and Judge Thomas Murphy was the President of the Ontario Athletic Commission & the Canadian Boxing Federation.
Announcer: Xiste Narbonne
Brown's take: $7,500 or 37.5 per cent of total receipts; Sanstol: 12.5 per cent
"It was the biggest gate in the history of boxing in Montreal." New York Times

Round-by-Round Account

Round One -- They started, Brown fighting in an upright position and Sanstol from a crouch. They sparred cautiously, Brown shooting out his left hand rapidly, forcing Sanstol to come to a clinch to avoid it. Brown shot a straight left to the face and attempted to cross with his right, Sanstol turning away. Taking advantage of his marked difference in reach, Brown was holding Sanstol at bay, until the Norwegian had rushed in and ducked under a right swing, landing one on the Negro's ribs. Smiling at his diminutive opponent, Brown was fairly playing with the little Norwegian lad. Pete was making desperate efforts to get under the long reaching left, at the same time avoiding an uppercut and a right swing. They were still sparring cautiously and no heavy blows had been landed when the bell sounded.

Round Two -- Starting the second round, Pete tried to rush matters, Brown sending out his left to the head and driving Sanstol back. Brown feinted with his left and crossed with the right, landing lightly on Sanstol's shoulder. Sanstol was doing the leading but Brown was holding him off with a straight left jab. Brown landed a left to the chin, missed with a left and tried a right cross, Sanstol ducking away. Pete was dodging in and out under Brown's lefts and rights, but was not connecting. Pete scored to the ribs and the side of the head with his left and failed with his right. Brown retaliated with a straight left to the face but was not using his right hand to any extent. Brown landed a hard left cross to the chin and swung with a right and landed lightly as Pete wiggled away. Sanstol landed one to the body with his left at the bell.

Round Three -- Brown delivered the first blow of the third round when he sent a straight left to the chin and attempted to cross with his right. Sanstol ducked and landed one to the body going into a clinch. The Negro was just sparring and making no effort to administer stiff punches. He continued to hold Pete at some length, jabbing continually with his left. Pete was unable to fathom Brown's peculiar style of defence, trying every trick he knew to get in close enough to score with a telling punch. Sanstol tapped lightly on the chin with a straight left and Brown came back with a right and a left swing. Sanstol bounced lightly to the chin forcing the fighting, going into close quarters in which he landed several hard body punches. He was carrying the fight to Brown when the bell terminated a session of infighting.

Round Four -- Starting the round, Brown was evidently determined to bring the battle to a finish. He landed a stiff left and right in rapid succession and made Sanstol back away. Pete was unable to get in close enough to score while rushing into a clinch. Brown apparently eased up after shaking Sanstol with three hard punches. He was booed for punching in the clinches. Sanstol tapped lightly on the face with his left and Brown retaliated a hard right and left to the head. The Negro landed a right cross to the side of the head and Sanstol closed in with him. Both tapped lightly with their lefts, and Brown sent over a right cross which was short. They were indulging in infighting at the bell.

Round Five -- Brown landed lightly with the left to the face and Pete retaliated with a left to the head and a right to the body. The Negro was finding difficulty in hitting Sanstol in his crouched position. Brown was snapping straight lefts at Sanstol without effect. Pete scored with a right to the side of the head and closed in with his opponent. Brown landed two right crosses. Sanstol closed in and as he broke away Brown landed a left to the side of the head. Both were missing badly, Sanstol fighting in a weaving style. Very little damage had been done by either fighter as the gong sounded, not one really stiff punch having been scored.

Round Six -- In on top of Brown immediately after the round started, Pete was tying him up. Both scored with lefts to the side of the head and Brown with a stiff right jolt to the body. He was allowing Sanstol to carry the fight to him and countering at all times. The champion showed good sportsmanship as Sanstol slipped and offered him an opportunity to land with both hands, but he stepped back with his hands high until Sanstol recovered his footing.
They were pawing each other more than fighting. Sanstol shot a hard right to the chest and Brown backed away. As Sanstol was hanging on, Brown was trying to whip his left under his opponent's guard, the blows landing lightly. They were mauling each other at the bell.

Round Seven -- Starting the round, tactics were changed, Sanstol fighting from the defensive while Brown was carrying the battle. He was shooting out his left, and landing lightly on Sanstol's head. The Norwegian maintained his crouching position, coming out of it to score with a hard right to Brown's head. The blow evidently hurt Brown and he fought like a demon in retaliation. Sanstol again landed to the head with a right cross and came into a clinch. Pete kept closing in, not allowing Brown to get in a clean punch. The Negro kept backing away, awaiting an opportunity. He continually shot out his left to draw Sanstol on, the little Norwegian ducking a left jab to go into close fighting at all times, at which he was the better.

Montreal Daily Herald report (Click on image for larger, readable version)

Round Eight -- Brown came from his corner with a rush and landed a left to the side of the head and a right to the body. Sanstol tapped lightly on the champion's shoulder with a right and then backed away. Brown was chopping down at Sanstol's head with hammer-like lunges, the Norwegian keeping away from these blows. Sanstol missed with a right and a left and Brown landed a light left jab to the side of the neck. Brown shot over a right cross that opened up a gash under Sanstol's left eye. He scored with a left to the chin that shook Sanstol up and the Norwegian closed in with him. Brown sent a right to the side of the head, aiming at the injured eye. Sanstol was keeping beyond the reach of the Negro's left hand. With his face covered with blood, Sanstol was fighting a terrific battle under his handicap of height and reach. He showed his first signs of fatigue as the bell sounded.

Round Nine -- Coming out of his corner, Brown kept shooting his left hand jabs to the face and crossed with a right, forcing Sanstol into a clinch. In the break, Pete landed a right cross to the body and a left to the side of the head. Brown was still popping his blows at the injured eye and had Sanstol bleeding from the gash. Sanstol kept closing in an effort to tie up Brown's punches. At infighting, the champion landed several blows to the head and body. Sanstol scored with his left to the chin and Brown to Sanstol's head with a right. Brown was cuffing Sanstol with left snaps in an effort to wheel him around for an opening for a right cross. In these efforts Sanstol showed marked ring generalship by avoiding the rights and ducking under the lefts. With the battle more than half over, there was no very marked advantage to be claimed by either fighter.

Round Ten -- Brown left his corner much the fresher of the two. He immediately went on the aggressive and landed lightly with his left and rights. Brown sent in a straight left jab to Sanstol's face that shook him up and made him back away. It was the hardest blow of the battle. Sanstol shot in a right and left to the body, the blows having little effect. Brown was continually using the hammer punch to the side of Sanstol's head. Sanstol's blows had evidently lost their snap as Brown was taking them to draw his opponent. Brown scored with a right to the side of the head as Sanstol went into a clinch. Pete landed a stiff left to the body and followed with a right to the side of the head. They were in a clinch at the bell.

Round Eleven -- Brown landed fast rights and lefts to Sanstol's head shaking him up, forcing Pete into a clinch. Sanstol tapped lightly on the body with a left jab and a right swing falling into a clinch. The Negro shot a hard right cross to the side of the head and went into a clinch. Then followed a session of mauling, the fighters clinching and following with light body blows. Both sent lefts to the side of the head. Sanstol drove to the chin and went into a clinch. Brown tapped lightly with his left and right in the breakaway as the bell sounded.

Round Twelve -- Brown scored three times in rapid succession with the left and Pete wheeled away to avoid a right cross. The champion sent in a stiff right to the jaw and forced Pete into a clinch. Brown landed a right to the side of the head, forcing Sanstol to back away. He came to a clinch and Sanstol shot a right uppercut that missed its mark. Pete sent two light lefts to the body, making the Negro smile. Brown landed a right to the side of the head and a left to the body and they came into a clinch. Sanstol was using every effort to keep in close to Brown, not giving him a chance to land a blow. This was good ring generalship on the part of the little Norwegian and he had his much taller opponent bewildered.

Round Thirteen -- Brown was forcing the fighting from the start and Sanstol devoted his efforts to hanging on. Both were showing signs of the fast pace they had travelled. Brown landed a left under the heart; Sanstol again came to a clinch. At the break he missed with an uppercut. Brown scored with a hard left and missed with a right swing. They were mauling and fighting to the body. Sanstol keeping in under his opponent's greater reaching arm. Sanstol scored with a stiff right and left to the body as the bell sounded. For this, he was given a great ovation.

Round Fourteen -- As Brown shot out his left, Sanstol ducked in, killing the strength of the blow. Brown was making every effort to sneak over a knockout punch and in the close fighting Sanstol landed a straight left to the jaw. Brown came back with a right to the body and head. Brown was forcing the fighting making every effort to send in a right or a left that would terminate the bout. Sanstol was fighting in crafty fashion, ducking under the blows and hanging on, devoting his efforts to go the limit of 15 rounds. They were in a clinch and infighting when the bell sounded.

Round Fifteen -- They came from the corners with a rush in the final round, Pete falling into a clinch. Brown was desperate, swinging his left and rights like a flail, fighting as if the whole battle depended on the points gained in this round. Pete missed with his left, went to a clinch and in the break Brown landed with a left to the body. Sanstol backed away. Brown was forcing Sanstol into his own corner. The Norwegian battled his way out to the centre of the ring for a series of infighting. Both were fighting like demons, swinging and battling at every style they knew. The crowd was in an uproar as they came to a clinch and both were landing wildly with lefts and rights to the body and the head. Sanstol fell into a clinch and ducked under Brown's right swing. Brown landed a right uppercut and had Sanstol backed up against the ropes. He fought his way out as the bell sounded.

Montreal Gazette [1]

Champion's Manager States Norwegian to Be Logical Contender for Title
By L.S.B. Shapiro

When Al Brown's arm was raised in victory last night at the Forum, it marked the culmination of one attempt by Pete Sanstol to gain the bantamweight crown of the world, but it also marked the beginning of another. For the blonde battler proved himself a stronger man against the famous negro than the most sanguine critic had expected, and he carved himself a neat niche as a logical contender for the title.

No better tribute was paid to Sanstol's showing than that emanating from the dressing room of the champion immediately after the fight. While Brown sat in a corner, talking Spanish and French gleefully to a number of admirers, David Lumiansky, his manager, was paying high tribute to the local fighter. "Sanstol has undoubtedly proven himself, not only the logical contender for the championship, but will probably also prove a persistent contender," was the way Lumiansky put it. "He made a great showing against Brown, and I might even say that it is gratifying that the fight went 15 rounds. I am certainly happy that the cut over his eye is not serious.

"Our stay in Montreal has certainly been pleasant, we have received fair play from all sides, and there is just one more thing to say, and that is, we can't get back here fast enough."

Thus before the crowd had left the Forum, the preliminary discussion for a return bout was already underway. Brown sails for Paris next week to meet Spider Pladner in October. If there is any doubt as to his ability to defeat Sanstol he is willing to agree to a return match, and negotiations may be completed in the near future.

In Sanstol's room, there was also considerable jubilation. Sanstol was receiving the congratulations of some 20 excited admirers. "I did my best," was Sanstol's philosophic comment, as he submitted to treatment for his eye. He intends to go for a holiday for several months.

The Gazette, August 26.

During an interview with Alexandria, Virginia, newspaper reporter Bob McCormick--before his January 10, 1933 bout with Jimmy Mack--Sanstol reflected on this bout with Panama Al Brown: "Not once did Brown get himself in a hole. And not once did he waste a blow or the least little drop of energy. I've been practicing and when I fight him again I'll be the same way. Things may happen."

In the January 1959 issue of The Ring magazine, at p. 21, Ted Carroll wrote: "Brown was lucky to win. The consensus after the fight was that Sanstol, who put on a rousing finish in the fifteen round setto, had won six rounds to six for Brown with three even. However, most observers seemed to feel that the contest was too close for a title to change hands. By such a microscopic margin did Pete Sanstol miss the bantamweight championship of the world."

  • Often recorded by boxing records, until recently, as an unanimous decision for Brown. It actually was a split-decision, as dissenting judge, Dr. Gaston Demers, had declared Sanstol the winner. (The Gazette, August 26, at p. 14.)
  • Former World Champion Tommy Burns was present. Aug. 25 Montreal Star
  • For the controversy surrounding this bout, click here.
  • Click here to read a PDF article of the history leading up to this bout.