Sixto Escobar vs. Rodolfo (Baby) Casanova

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1934-06-26 : Sixto Escobar 116½ lbs beat Rodolfo Casanova 117½ lbs by KO at 2:36 in round 9 of 15

  • Location: Forum, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

World Bantamweight Title
Montreal Athletic Commission recognition (for the Seagram's Belt)

Promoter: Armand Vincent

A hurricane blew up out of the Carribean last night and left in its wake Baby Casanova, the pride of Mexico City, a battered, bleeding hulk, lying flat on his face, pitifully inert, as Sixto Escobar, of Puerto Rico, scored a clean, spectacular knockout victory in the ninth round of a scheduled 15-round bout, at the Forum. A crowd of 8,000 looked on at first with awe and admiration and then broke out into violent cheering as Escobar–the finest little fighting man ever to come up from the tropics–proved his class by smashing Casanova to the canvas for the count for the first time in the vaunted Mexican’s career and winning the Montreal Athletic Commission’s recognition as bantamweight champion of the world.

It was a throwback to the storied days of the old prize ring when little men had fists of iron and paralyzing impact to their punches. With the calm of a tropical sea on his poker face, but murder in his eyes and dynamite in his fists, Escobar played a pretty boxing game with his confident opponent for two rounds, and then in the third he smashed a right cross to Casanova’s jaw. The Mexican went down and stayed down for a count of six.

Bewildered by the crushing power of Escobar’s punching, Casanova came to his feet and made a desperate attempt to avert defeat by changing his style. He stuck out his right and swung with a left, and then switched back to a left lead. But his strategy was to no avail. Escobar kept his right cocked for action and beat a punishing tattoo on Casanova’s mouth with a lightning left. For five rounds more, the Puerto Rican gave the Mexican a boxing lesson, and in sheer desperation in the eighth, Casanova opened wide with a two-fisted attack that gave him a round for the first time since the opening gong.

Escobar had been waiting for Casanova to open up, and in the ninth he came out for the kill. A slight suspicion of disdain played around his pursed lips and he left-jabbed Casanova into position and then out of nowhere his right hand smashed against the Mexican’s jaw. His head shot back and his knees quivered slightly but he shook off the effects of the blow and danced to the middle of the ring. For a full minute Casanova swung wide lefts and rights which were countered by Escobar’s deft gloves, and suddenly another right hand shot to the Mexican’s face.

Casanova kept his feet but he was slowing up. Escobar went after him in earnest, throwing his right hand in quick succession and he backed Casanova to the ropes near the Puerto Rican’s corner. When Casanova hit the ropes a right landed. His eyes turned glassy. Escobar stepped back coolly, swung a left hook to Casanova’s face and as the Mexican sagged he closed in with a beautifully-timed right uppercut. That was all. Escobar stepped back nimbly. Casanova, his hands hanging limp at his sides, remained upright for a split second and then fell forward, flat on his face. The referee counted and Casanova raised his head slightly and weakly attempted to rise. His body quivered and he sank down again as the referee tolled “Ten and out.” The time was 2:36.

The pride of Mexico City was dragged to his corner, and for the first time during the evening Escobar smiled. Alderman Frank Hogan stepped into the ring with the gold and diamond belt emblematic of the local commission’s recognition of the outcome and as he pinned the Seagrams’ belt on the victor, Casanova’s handlers brought him to. The Mexican nodded courageously at his conqueror and left the ring while the crowd surging around the ringside was cheering the fresh, unmarked Puerto Rican. The belt may have meant only local recognition to Escobar, but in the eyes of ringside critics and 8,000 fans he was a fighter worthy of far wider recognition.

The finest tribute to Escobar’s prowess came out of the defeated man’s dressing room. While Casanova sat dejectedly sucking a piece of ice, his manager, Emmet Ledwith, shook his head slowly, “Escobar’s a great fighter, that’s all.” The Mexican’s great record of 42 knockouts in 43 fights had come to its turning point.

The Gazette’s score sheet showed that Escobar had won six rounds, one, the eighth, went to Casanova, and the second was even. Almost throughout the Puerto Rican was definitely superior. He showed himself to be an extremely clever boxer, a puncher with both hands and a ring general of superlative quality. Casanova, generally recognized as the logical man to succeed Panama Al Brown, had been displaced by a young unknown who came to this continent three months ago.

By L. S. B. Shapiro, The Gazette, June 27

"The promoter and the Montreal Boxing Commission persisted in calling it a world's championship fight in the face of disclaimers from both Canadian and U.S. higher authorities. Regardless of the status of the go as far as the championship is concerned, if nothing happens to this boy, Escobar, it seems pretty safe to predict that he will make them all like it before very long. Incidentally, his showing against the highly regarded Casanova should be solace for Bobby Leitham, the local bantam, upon whom Sixto seems to have developed his lethal right hand." The Gazette

*The 1980 Ring Record Book records this as being for the National Boxing Association title, p. 779.

  • Escobar became Puerto Rico's first boxing world champion.
  • In May 1934, at the request of the Mexican Boxing Commission, the National Boxing Association stripped the long-recognized Panama Al Brown of the bantam title for his alleged refusal to face Casanova.