Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar Johansson (3rd meeting)

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Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar Johansson III 1092.jpg

Floyd Patterson 195 lbs beat Ingemar Johansson 207 lbs by KO at 2:45 in round 6 of 15

  • World Heavyweight Championship (1st defense of 2nd reign by Patterson)
  • Photos: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,


  • Five weeks before his third fight against Patterson, Johansson unwittingly became part of the early Muhammad Ali legend while training in Miami Beach. On February 6, 1961, Johansson boxed six rounds with three sparring partners at Convention Hall before a crowd of about 2,000. One of the sparring partners was 19-year-old Ali, then known as Cassius Clay. With only four pro fights to his credit, young Clay treated Johansson as if he were the sparring partner. He jabbed, he danced, and he made Johansson miss repeatedly with his vaunted right hand. "He's good, this fellow," Johansson said afterward. Later in the year, Clay's promoter offered Johansson $100,000 to fight Clay. Johansson turned it down, saying, "That guy couldn't even draw a non-paying crowd, much less any real money."
  • The fight was broadcast live on ABC radio.
  • The fight was shown on closed circuit TV at 207 locations with a seating capacity of 756,195. It was also carried on 30 special community TV antenna systems covering about 100,000 sets.
  • Feature Sports, the fight's promoter, got 50 percent of the live gate, while both fighters received 25 percent. Also, Patterson got 50 percent, Johansson 35 percent and Feature Sports 15 percent of the revenue from closed circuit, TV, radio and so on.
  • An estimated crowd of 15,000 at the Miami Beach Convention Center produced a gate of more than $500,000.
  • Odds favoring Patterson were as high as 4-1.
  • Patterson had trainer Dan Florio and manager Cus D'Amato in his corner.
  • Johansson had trainer and cutman Whitey Bimstein in his corner. Bimstein was able to stop the flow of blood from a cut that opened over Johansson's right eye in the third round.
  • The first round, in which Patterson was knocked down twice and Johansson once, was named 1961 Round of the Year by The Ring.
  • ESPN contributor Bert Sugar wrote:
Both fighters came out jabbing in Round l, Johansson with a long, straight left like a spear, and Patterson with a peculiar jab which unfolded like a jackknife. Ingemar tried a right, just grazing the champion's chin. They exchanged jabs, and Johansson followed up with a wicked right cross that caught Floyd flush on the chin. Patterson went down, jumping up at the count of three, as if he were merely going through the motions of genuflection. Referee Billy Regan continued the count, stopping at eight as Ingo waited in a neutral corner. The "mandatory eight count" -- a relatively new innovation in professional boxing -- had been adopted, with the consent of both fighters, for the first time in a heavyweight title fight. By the time Regan stopped counting, Patterson appeared to be recovered.
Johansson made haste to change all of that. He came straight at Floyd with an ineffectual jab, followed by another jolt from the "Hammer of Thor" that stunned the champion. Johansson immediately launched yet another bolt of Swedish lightning, a sizzling right cross, followed by a left that knocked Patterson down a second time. This time the champion was hurt. "His eyes were glazed," referee Regan stated after the fight. Floyd took another mandatory eight count, just enough time for his remarkable powers of recovery to work their magic.
A replay of the first seemed to be unfolding. But wait! As Johansson waded in for the kill, Patterson reached down, somewhere deep inside, groping into the depths of his fractured confidence for a miracle. His hands -- hands as fast as a middleweight's -- flashed out with a right and a left. Johansson caught both punches with his face and went down; the first time since Dempsey fought Firpo, 40 years before, that both fighters had gone down in the first round of any heavyweight-title fight! The pro-Patterson crowd erupted as Ingo took a mandatory eight count. Floyd managed to get in one more hard left to the jaw before the bell sounded to conclude one of the wildest first rounds in heavyweight history.
Both fighters came out throwing lethal leather early in Round 2, "Like two animals from another age," wrote John Underwood of the Miami Herald. They exchanged jabs. They traded hard rights to the head. Over-anxious, they both slipped to the canvas. Johansson jabbed as Floyd came at him from his unorthodox "peek-a-boo" stance. Patterson launched a right that grazed Ingo's ear and another right that slammed hard into the same ear. Johansson came right back with a swipe from "Thor's hammer" that caught Floyd on the jaw. The Swede began to find the range with his jab, scoring with it four times before Patterson rushed in to dig a brutal right to the body -- the first effective body punch by either man in the entire three-fight series! They exchanged lefts and rights to the head, punishing punches calculated to end the fight, and Patterson ripped another right to Ingo's midsection and missed with a left at the bell.
Patterson came out jabbing hard in Round 3. Twice he jolted Ingo with his left, absorbing a short right to the jaw in return. Floyd jabbed again, a sharp punch that opened a cut over the challenger's right eye. As Patterson rushed in to take advantage, the Swede picked him apart with a left-right combination and another right over Floyd's jab. Two more Johansson rights were on target, but lacked firepower. Patterson forced his way inside. Johansson unloaded a right to the champion's head. Patterson came right back with a punishing left hook to Ingo's chin, and Johansson retaliated with another big right. Now both fighters were absorbing the kind of punches that had dropped them in previous fights.
A cut appeared over Patterson's left eye early in Round 4. Johansson was puffy under his left eye and bleeding from the gash over his right eye. Patterson opened fire with a right to the ear and another right behind it. He followed up with a ferocious combination -- ripping a left hook and a right to the head that sent the challenger back into the ropes. They went back to exchanging jabs. Patterson stepped in with a brutal left to the belly. Johansson scored with a left and a right to the head, but they were arm punches lacking in real power. The champion dug another left to Ingo's ribs. They traded jabs and Johansson followed up with a tremendous right to the head. "Thor's hammer" had struck again and Patterson was hurt, but upright. He came roaring back, whipping punches with both hands to the body and the head. Johansson seemed overwhelmed, unable to establish his very methodical attack. Floyd slammed a final right into Ingemar's jaw at the bell.
The pace slowed noticeably in Round 5. Johansson was beginning to tire, but Floyd failed to pursue either him or his advantage. They engaged in three minutes of jabbing, lngo's game, leaving the champion wide open for the big follow-up right. But it never came. Patterson moved inside late in the round, with a hard left hook to the body and a short left-right salvo to the head.
Johansson, was breathing heavily through his mouth at the start of Round 6, his flabby body now soaked with perspiration. Patterson seemed fresh and confident. He was winning the rounds and controlling the pace of the fight. The round started slowly with an exchange of jabs. Twice Johansson found the mark with his left. A right came at Patterson's jaw, straight and hard. Ingo let another one go, a heavy punch that snapped Floyd's head back! Patterson's corner went wild, screaming at him to watch out for the right.
The champion weathered the sudden squall and came back with a double jab. He missed with a right of his own, but quickly found the mark with a left to the body and a right to the head. Suddenly the Swede came alive, moving in behind his jab as Floyd backed off. A right flashed out at the champion's chin, but Floyd lessened its impact by backing away. Ingo unloaded his Sunday punch again, trying to knock Patterson into next week with another right. The blow was on target, but it lacked authority. Patterson retaliated with a left hook to the body, and missed with a right to the head.
They squared off at ring center. You could see the power swelling in Patterson and draining from the fat, tired Swede. Floyd lashed out with a leaping left hook that smacked into Ingo's forehead, just above the bridge of his nose, snapping his neck back. Two quick chopping rights to the temple followed it, knocking Ingemar to the deck. He struggled mightily and made it to his knees, balancing himself on his right glove as referee Regan tolled the fatal digits. At the count of nine Johansson tried to rise, but he lost his balance. As Regan counted "10," Ingo was scrambling to get up with one glove still touching the canvas. Johansson later complained that he had received a quick count, but films of the fight revealed that he was, in fact, given 11 seconds to rise. The end came at 2:45 of the sixth round.

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