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Old 08-13-2012, 03:17 PM   #5
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Default Re: Bob Pastor eliminated Lem Franklin from contention for a crack at Louis

Originally Posted by McGrain View Post
Break it down for me handsome.

Cheers GreatA.
Here is an excerpt from an unfinished (as of yet) piece I wrote on Franklin:

Despite these impressive victories a title bout eluded Franklin. Louis had been immersed in his “Bum of the Month Club” fights, a point criticized in a flyer sent out by a Franklin publicity man which stated “Joe Louis is the only champion in boxing history allowed to conduct his own private tournament…made up of hand-picked, panty-waisted stooges, all of whom have been knocked out by the champion…this round-robin affair seems to have the support and blessing of the press and various boxing commissions…how much longer can they get away with this brazen racket?” Boxing scribes soon picked up on this chant and began to suggest that Louis and his promoter, Mike Jacobs, were ducking the man whom they were now referring to as “The Dark Destroyer”. They began to compare Lem’s plight to that of Sam Langford, the great heavyweight from the 1910s-20s who was so feared that it was all but impossible to get Champion Jack Johnson to give him the title shot he had so rightfully earned. “The ferocious Franklin has established himself now, and will be heard from every time Louis tackles anybody else…” wrote sportswriter Harry Grayson. Hurley vented his frustrations to the press as well: “Mike Jacobs has some boys down there that he’s protecting- Joe Louis, Billy Conn, Buddy and Max Baer and Lou Nova…they’re trying to keep Lem in the second flight by not offering one of these ‘untouchables,’” he complained. “I had the old ‘Fargo Express’ Billy Petrolle, for 5 years and couldn’t get him a title fight until he was too old…there wasn’t a better fighter around at the time and everybody knew it. It’s the same with Franklin.”

Joe Louis felt the pressure and promoter Jacobs knew he couldn’t circumvent Franklin for long. Elimination matches with Melio Bettina and Bob Pastor were suggested by Jacobs, with the winner to get a title shot with Louis in September of 1942. Bettina was an awkward southpaw who could make his fighter look bad, so Hurley instead chose Pastor. “Bicycle Bob” had a reputation as being a tricky spoiler, having dampened the prospects of such up and comers as Turkey Thompson, Booker Beckwith and Roscoe Toles. But Lem had a solid track record against such fighters already (Blunt, Reddish), and seemed like the safer route considering Franklin’s record against Louis’s former KO victims. The bout was set for February 24, 1942 in Cleveland with Lem installed as a heavy favorite. But fans still anticipated this classic boxer vs. puncher matchup; the spoiler of slayers vs. the slayer of spoilers.

13, 278 fans packed the Cleveland Arena, setting a record indoor gate. Private Joe Louis was at ringside along with Mike Jacobs to watch a fight sportswriters later described as “One of the game’s biggest surprises since Jim Braddock wrested the heavyweight crown from Max Baer.” Franklin took an early lead, pounding the defensive-minded Pastor with hard shots and opening a gash above his left eye. It looked bad for Bob. But by the fifth round Lem was tiring from his attempts for an early knockout. He began to flounder, giving Pastor the opportunity he’d waited for. He put on a boxing clinic, opening up with a steady stream of peppering jabs, hooks and crosses that found Lem’s face time and again over the next few rounds. A flurry of some thirty unanswered blows in the eighth round finally crumpled the hometown favorite to the canvas, where he was counted out.
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