Rocky Marciano vs. Keene Simmons

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Marciano distorts the face of Simmons

1951-01-29 : Rocky Marciano 192½ lbs beat Keene Simmons 200½ lbs by TKO at 2:54 in round 8 of 10

  • Location: Rhode Island Auditorium, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
  • Referee: Sharkey Buonanno

In his book Rocky Marciano: The Rock of His Times, Russell Sullivan wrote: "Marciano was in trouble early before winning—and not before drawing some boos from the Providence crowd for hurling a few low blows."

Simmons, who became a sparring partner for Marciano when the latter became world champion, said of the Brockton Blockbuster, "Whenever he hit you, wherever he hit you, he hurt you.”

The April 1951 issue of The Ring published a photo from the fight (page 21) showing Simmons's face grotesquely distorted as Marciano's glove grinds into the flesh from the side. This picture surfaced again in many newspapers and magazines in 1973 after the publication of a study by British neuropathologist Dr. John Arthur Nicholas Corsellis (1915-1994) on the brains of boxers.

Dr. Corsellis headed a research team which examined under microscope the brains of 15 dead British fighters, 12 professionals and three amateurs. The brains were preserved by the hospital pathology departments with the consent of relatives. Most of the 15 fighters at the end of their careers suffered from slowness of speech and loss of memory. "The paramount reason for the insidious neurological and psychological deterioration of so many of the 15 men," Dr. Corsel­lis wrote, "was the brain damage incurred while boxing."