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Old 06-29-2007, 04:34 PM   #1
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Default The 1960ís: 5 Classics in a Decade of Excellence

By John Marshall

When the salad days of boxing are discussed, whether is be on a radio talk show or over a beer at the corner bar, the decade of the 1960’s is quickly raised in conversation.

The meteoric rise of Muhammad Ali, the Patterson-Johansson trilogy, the decline of Sugar Ray Robinson. The emergence of such durable title-holders such as Emile Griffith, **** Tiger, Nino Benvenuti, Carlos Ortiz, Horacio Accavallo and even Chartchai Chinoi at Flyweight. The long standing rivalries such as Griffith-Benvenuti, Griffith-Paret & Griffith-Rodriquez. The Robinson-Pender battles, the two beautifully fought contests between the Scot Ken Buchanan and Ishmael Laguna. The Cooper near KO of Clay, the courageous stand of Karl Mildenberger, the Frazier-Quarry pier six brawl at the Garden in the summer of 69.

Frazier-Quarry I (June 23, 1969)

Ali was in exile and Frazier held the five state version of the World Heavyweight Championship when he met the #2 ranked Quarry at Madison Square Garden. At the time Frazier’s reputation was still evolving and a fair percentage of the boxing fraternity thought Quarry had the style, punch and toughness to beat Frazier. Joe was an 11 to 5 favorite with many takers. When the bell rang for round one Quarry rushed to ring center and engaged the Philadelphian in a series of violent exchanges. Jerry out punched the champion, stood head to head and landed several booming right hands, one of which drove Frazier back a few steps later in the round. Jerry looked for all the world like a winner during the first two sessions, exploding left hooks into Joe’s head and slamming right hands into the body. However, Frazier was in his element and he was prepared for a fifteen round war.
In the middle of round three Joe landed a slashing left hook that ripped open Quarry’s right eye. From that point forward the titleholder took command, out slugging Jerry and establishing increasing dominance. By the 5th round Quarry’s attack was muted. He landed on Joe yet he blows lacked steam and he was being roundly battered. After the 7th round, with Frazier in total command and Quarry doing all of the catching, referee Arthur Mercante summed the ring physician into the ring and the challenger was not allowed to come out for the 8th round. It was an epic brawl and one of the most exciting first rounds in heavyweight history.

Patterson-Johansson III (March 13, 1961)

When Floyd Patterson left Ingemar Johansson unconscious, his left foot twitching, on the canvas at the Polo Grounds on June 20, 1960 he became the first man to defy the age old axiom “They never come back”. Yet Floyd defied the in one of the most electrifying moments in boxing history. When the two met for the rubber match of their historic trilogy Floyd was back to where he was two years earlier, a strong favorite over a seemingly outmatched Johansson. Ingo trained poorly, gained 13 pounds in the previous nine months and entered the ring at a paunchy 213 pounds.
The Champion, muscled and trained to perfection, looked ready to slaughter Johansson. Yet Floyd was his old self, psychologically. His self professed hate for Ingemar that had marinated for a year after their first bout had dissolved. Floyd came out with a bizarre looking jackhammer jab and seemed disinterested. The Swede took about a minute to come over the jab with one of his trademark right hand bombs and down went Floyd.
Ingo decked him a second time and had Patterson one big right hand away from a return visit to dreamland. Johansson waded into Patterson and promptly dumped with a left hook, flush on his chin. Ingo was hurt yet hung on and survived the heat, the first time both Champion and challenger had been decked in the first round since Dempsey-Faro. The remainder of the bout saw an uninspired Patterson systematically wear the Swede down, although Floyd ate some potent right hand bombs from Ingo in rounds two, four and six. Although crudely fought, the bout was filled with action and a fitting finale for a memorable trilogy.

Griffith – Benvenuti I (April 16, 1967)

Emile Griffith was a multiple champion with a myriad of ring skills who often seemed to fight in second gear. His fatal knockout of Benny “Kid” Paret in 1961 resulted in the emergence of a new Griffith. He had proven punching power, yet after the Paret tragedy he left it in reserve, instead relying upon his vast ring skills and marvelous counter punching talent to outbox and outpoint his rivals. He only seemed to rouse himself in return bouts, often after a lackluster, championship losing effort in title defenses.
After relieving **** Tiger of the Middleweight title in 1966, Griffith agreed to meet the European Middleweight Champion, and former USA Middleweight Gold medalist Nino Benvenuti. The skilled Italian, an accomplished boxer-puncher, had won all but one of his professional bouts and had earned a number one world ranking. However, few thought Nino would give Griffith more than a stiff workout. The 4 to 1 underdog deposited Griffith on the seat of his trucks midway through the second session courtesy of a jolting right uppercut. The Title-holder returned the favor with interest, battering Nino to the canvas along the ropes for a hard nine counter late in the fourth round.
Surprisingly, Griffith failed to seize the initiative, allowing Benvenuti to keep him on the end of a hard jab. As the rounds passed, Emile boxed with little zeal and the Italian built a solid lead on the scorecards. In the 14th and 15th sessions the Champion tried to rally. It was too late! All three officials voted solidly for Benvenuti and Griffith was an ex champion again.

Patterson-Chuvalo (February 1, 1965)

People remember George Chuvalo as a stepping stone for Joe Frazier and George Foreman yet he was in the top tier of heavyweight contenders in the early and middle 1960’s. Cassius Clay ducked him in 1963 and took a bout with Henry Cooper prior to meeting Liston. Chuvalo was on the threshold of a heavyweight title shot when he met former two time titleholder Floyd Patterson in a heavyweight elimination bout at Madison Square Garden. Floyd was only a marginal favorite and many thought the rugged, hard punching Canadian would wear the former champion down and possibly stop him. From the opening bell neither Patterson or Chuvalo took one backward step. Patterson’s exploded lightening fast combinations to Chuvalo’s head over the first four rounds yet the Canadian began walking through Floyd in the middle sessions, buckling Patterson’s knees in the 5th and again in the 10th round, the latter in which Patterson was visibly hurt and forced to hold. Again and again Chuvalo landed vicious left hooks an pulverizing right hands to the body and Patterson countered beautifully, snapped George’s head back with multiple punch combination, marking the Canadian over both eyes.
The bout was very close, with nearly half of the working press giving Chuvalo a razor thin verdict. The twelfth round was epic with both battlers slamming each other to the head and body at ring center, punching non stock until the final bell. Patterson received a close, unanimous decision and Chuvalo earned lasting recognition as a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division. It was Chuvalo at his finest, and it is how he should be remembered, as a serious championship threat!

Brown – Ortiz (April 21, 1962)

“Old Bones” has dominated the Lightweight Division since his title winning effort against Wallace “Bud” Smith in 1956, making eight championship defenses and earning the distinction of being Ring Magazine “Fighter Of The Year” in 1961. However, he was becoming shop worn, having begun his career in 1946, and his crown was teetering. The changing of the guard arrived in the form of the classy Puerto Rican former Jr. Welterweight Champion Carlos Ortiz. Ortiz stepped down in weight to challenge Brown at Las Vegas in April. Ortiz had forged a well earned reputation as a diversified, intelligent ring man who could think on his feet, had knockout power and was a busy puncher.
Yet Brown was favored in his 9th title defense, his tremendous left hook having lost little of its potency. Ortiz was simply too young and talented to be denied. Carlos abused the champion inside, counter punched beautifully and jabbed Old Bones silly. Brown could not get off. He landed a few solid left hooks late in the second round, arguably his only round of the fight. Ortiz was cautious, electing not to go for what seemed a sure knockout after the 10th round. The final five sessions saw Carlos nearly embalm Brown with punches yet the old champion would not go down. Ortiz won 13 rounds and after the bout the proud ex champion said “He never really hurt me!”. Carlos keep the Lightweight crown for five year, defending against the iron of his division, before being out pointed by Carlos “Teo” Cruz in 1968.
It was the final true decade of the lineal, historical weight classes. Boxing had not yet been fragmented into near obscurity and historically great Champions ruled their respective divisions. The top ten contenders, from Flyweight to Heavyweight, were experienced, legitimate championship threats. Boxing thrived and the public clamored for more, in the United States and abroad. It was a decade of excellence!
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