Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento

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Challenger rankings
Last Rankings
NBA 1 20.03.1939
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NBA 1 19.12.1938
Louis puts Galento down in round two.
Galento floors Louis in round three.
Another view of Galento's knockdown.
Louis finishes Galento in round four.

Joe Louis 201 lbs beat Tony Galento 234 lbs by TKO at 2:29 in round 4 of 15

  • Date: 1939-06-28
  • Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, USA
  • Referee: Arthur Donovan
  • World Heavyweight Championship (7th defense by Louis)


  • Bout announced no later than April 19.[1]
  • Before the fight, Galento was quoted as saying in a mangled New Jersey accent, "I'll moider da bum."
  • Years after the fight, Louis said, "Tony berated me something terrible before the fight. He got to me, and I hated him for it. I never hated anybody before. I decided to punish him before I knocked him out."

Official Fight Figures

  • Attendance: 34,852.
  • Gross receipts: $283,302.68.
  • Radio and motion picture rights: $50,000.
  • Federal tax: $28,922.44.
  • State tax: $17,648.07.
  • Net receipts: $289,232.17.
  • Louis' share (40 percent): $114,332.87.
  • Galento's share (l7½ per cent): $50,020.63. [2]

Louis Wins in Fourth Round of Career's Hardest Fight
By Gene Talbot, Associated Press, June 29, 1939

The roof finally fell in on Tony Galento last night and nearly killed him, but before it happened the bold New Jersey barkeep gave a fight crowd in Yankee stadium a succession of thrills it will not soon forget.

Yes, Champion Joe Louis butchered the poor galoot, sent him falling to his knees bleeding and helpless so that Referee Arthur Donovan had to stop it in 2:29 of the fourth round. That was almost the pre-ordained result. But Tony gave an account of himself that will enshrine him in the minds of those who saw.

Tony, the round-man, never took a backward step. In the third round, when his face already was cut to ribbons and the heart would long since have been beaten out of a less brave fighter, he swung a left to Louis' jaw that sent the champion bouncing on the canvas.

In the opening minutes, when the fight was young, he rocked the big, bronze champion to his heels with another terrific left and for a fleeting instant held the championship in the chubby fists that have drawn ten thousand beers. He did everything he said he would do—except knock out "dat bum." Tony, the man they've all been laughing at, climaxed his career with his greatest performance.

Louis, who had knocked out his three previous challengers in less than a round each, said it was the toughest fight he ever had. In that terrible last round, when Galento was defenseless, Joe said he had to hit him a dozen times as hard as he ever hit a man before Tony finally fell into the referee's arms, groping for the ropes in a desperate effort to keep his feet.

Such a great stand did Galento make that he probably will be matched against Lou Nova, recent conqueror of Max Baer, in September. Through battered, puffed lips Tony begged for another chance at Louis, but he won't get that. Nova, at the ringside after the battle, said nothing would suit him better than a few shots at Tony, except a chance at the champion.

"If I ever staggered Louis the way Tony did he never would get away from me," declared the confident young Californian. "If I'd had him on the floor like Tony did, I would have kept him there. The fellow can't take a punch."

At that, those who had posted money at 8 to 1 on Louis must have come near swallowing their gullets both times Galento landed on Joe's whiskers. Each time all that saved the champion from serious difficulties was Tony's inability to follow up fast. Tony simply could not shove his 233 pounds forward and strike again before Louis recovered.

Louis treated his stubby rival with a world of respect after he got clipped the first time. He claimed afterward that it wasn't caution so much as it was his inability to solve Tony's crouching style. But for a time he stepped very lightly and didn't really open up until a series of terrific left hooks had placed Galento at his mercy.

Galento returned to his corner with a cut upper lip at the end of the first round, the first of many cuts he was to receive. They had only been at it a few seconds when Louis whipped over a left to Tony's jaw that spun him to the floor for a two-count. For the remainder of the chapter Joe handed his dazed opponent a bad beating, but could not put him down again.

Thus was Tony's knockdown of his tormentor in the third such an electrifying thrill for the crowd of nearly 35,000. Louis had been whipping them into the Orange man's gory face again, staggering him with brutal rights, when Tony from in close brought up a quick right and then a left squarely to the champion's jaw. Joe went down on his pants like he had been clubbed, but quickly braced himself with his hand on the floor and was up again as the timekeeper tolled two. Tony had him going the rest of the round.

Louis started the fourth dancing around and keeping out of Tony's reach, watching for the big chance. Suddenly it came. Two left hooks crackled on Galento's jaw like summer lightning, and he swayed like a tilted barrel but didn't go down. In a breath Louis was on him, pounding sledge-hammer blows into Tony's face. Within 10 seconds he made Galento a horrible sight. It was all over. Mrs. Galento cried bitterly when she saw Tony's face as they led him reeling into the Yank's dressing room.

Today Louis was heading for Atlantic City for a vacation before returning to Detroit. He didn't know when they would want him to turn his fists loose on another man. [3]

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