Joe Louis vs. Harry Thomas

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Joe Louis stands over a fallen Harry Thomas

1938-04-01 : Joe Louis 202½ lbs beat Harry Thomas 196 lbs by KO at 2:50 in round 5 of 15

  • Location: Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA


'Bring On Schmeling,' Louis' Boast
By Steve Snider, United Press Staff Writer, April 2, 1938

Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, the unsmiling executioner, laid away his fistic bombs today after a fifth round knockout of courageous Harry Thomas and began to dream of the distant June night when he hopes to avenge his crushing defeat by the only man who laughed at his prowess—Max Schmeling.

Thomas, an awkward, but rugged heavyweight from a Minnesota farm, had all the heart of a Schmeling, but the boxing ability wasn't there.

Stung by the fury of the challenger's constant, dangerous flailing, Louis stunned Thomas with a left hook behind the ear at the end of the third round, dressed him for the kill by flooring him four times in the fourth round and, finally, ended it with two merciful left hooks after another knockdown in the fifth.

Thomas, battered senseless by the vicious assault, collapsed as Louis calmly drew a bead with his left, and slid toward the canvas. His glazed eyes stared at the floor without seeing it as Referee Davey Miller counted him out for the first time in his career of 80 fights.

It was just what Louis wanted—a good, tough fight before he meets Schmeling a second time next June 22.

"Now I know I can beat that Schmelin'," the "Bomber" grinned in his dressing room. "I always did think I could beat him, but he just happened to beat me that time. I know how to do it, too. I'll step out and set the pace."

Thomas, who was stopped in the eighth round by Schmeling, said, "I'll bet my purse tonight that Joe will knock the German out. His punches got 'snus.' That's Norwegian for 'umph'."

True to his word, Thomas went after the deadly Bomber as he insisted he would—as if Joe were just another fighter. Thomas sparred evenly throughout the first round and landed the most severe blows, although he took more by volume in return as Louis contented himself with flicking his straight left into Harry's defenseless face.

In the second, any advantage was Harry's. He flung his roundhouse rights and lefts at Louis' chin, but still the Bomber jabbed cautiously and withdrew from range when Thomas grew too bold.

Except for the last 50 seconds, the third round was Thomas' best. The 10,468 fans rose from their seats as the swinging challenger forced Louis to cover up time after time under a heavy rain of blows.

But near the end Louis lashed suddenly with a left hook the challenger never saw, landed it behind Harry's right ear and spun him around in his own corner. In the confusion, Louis dropped his hands, thinking the bell had rung, but it failed to sound until both fighters had dropped to the chairs in their corners.

It was the end of Thomas. No matter how hard he was hit in the remaining rounds—he went down for counts of nine, three, seven and nine before the end of the fourth round—he staggered back to his feet and raced at Louis with both hands flying.

Louis floored him again with a right to the point of the chin for a count of eight in the fifth and ended it with his two left hooks ten seconds before the end of the round.

Promoter Mike Jacobs said the 10,468 customers paid a total of $45,600. Net receipts, of which Louis will receive 40 per cent and Thomas 12½, were $37,599.56.

Each fighter also will receive a share of the radio and motion picture rights.

Louis will remain in Chicago for least a week and then move to the summer home of his co-manager, Julian Black, until he opens training for the Schmeling fight. Thomas, a railroad engineer by trade, owes the Southern Pacific road a month's work to retain his seniority and may take it before he resumes fighting. [1]