Rocky Marciano vs. Ezzard Charles (1st meeting)

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Marciano vs. Charles June 54.jpg
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1954-06-17 : Ezzard Charles 185½ lbs lost to Rocky Marciano 187½ lbs by UD in round 15 of 15


Marciano Is Prepared To Battle Ezzy Again
Associated Press, June 18, 1954

"He gave me a helluva fight. He deserves a return fight if he wants it."

Thus spoke heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano after his thrilling, come-from-behind 15-round decision over game, undaunted Ezzard Charles in a savage scrap in Yankee Stadium last night.

"I want him again," snarled the battered, unfazed 32-year-old Charles. "I thought I won. I think I came closer to knocking him out than he did me. The next time it will be different."

The lean Cincinnati Cobra, who failed for the second time in an attempt to became the first ex-champion to regain the heavyweight crown, may get his chance in September.

"Charles is entitled to the return," said Al Weill, manager of the all-conquering Brockton Bruiser. "It was a great show and a great fight."

It was that and more. Practically every one of the 47,585 paying customers, who contributed to a gross gate of $543,002, left the ball park raving about the slam-bang brawl, one of the outstanding heavyweight tussles in years.

"It was as tough as my first fight with Jersey Joe Walcott, maybe tougher," said the 29-year-old unbeaten Marciano, who went 15 rounds for the first time in his career. It was only the sixth time Rocky had to win by votes of the officials and one of the very few in which he failed to floor his opponent. He swept his other 40 by knockouts.

For four rounds it was all Charles. The 185½-pound, 18-5 underdog boxed beautifully. Then the 187½-pound Rocky, bleeding profusely from a wide, inch-and-a-quarter gash over his left eye, came on.

The muscular, bulldozing champion almost put Ezzy away in the sixth, kept driving until he was ahead slightly by the 10th, and then almost stowed Charles away several times in the later rounds. In the last, he battered the swollen-faced, hands-down challenger all over the ring.

The officials' votes brought no protests except from the Charles camp. Referee Ruby Goldstein had it 8-5-2, Judge Harold Barnes 8-6-1 and Judge Arthur Aidala 9-5-1. The Associated Press score card had Rocky far in front 10-4-1.

Rocky's purse, not counting the movies which may prove to be a bonanza, came to about $275,691. Charles collected approximately $137,980. That included their share of the gate, the approximately $188,000 from the telecast to 61 theaters in 45 cities, and the $35,000 from the network radio broadcast.

The gash over Rocky's left eye—opened in the fourth round—required 10 stitches by Dr. Vincent Nardiello. The physician cut away some old scar tissue in his post fight operation at St. Clare's Hospital. Charles required some treatment too for his swollen features. [1]