Boxing History - 1940's

The 1940's


Jan 29 - Tony Zale defeats NBA/New York middleweight champion Al Hostak, 10 rounds, non-title, Chicago.

March 1 - Henry Armstrong appears to defeat middleweight champion Ceferino Garcia after 10 rounds in Los Angeles, but the referee George Blake calls the bout a draw, preventing Armstrong from winning his fourth world title.

April 18 - Former middleweight champion Kid McCoy, 67 dies from an overdose of sleeping pills, Detroit.

May 10 - Lightweight champion Lou Ambers, seldom floored and never before stopped, is stunned early and floored four times by Lew Jenkins, who wins the title when the bout is stopped in fourth round, New York.

June 5 - Billy Conn defeats Gus Leenvich, 15 rounds, Detroit, to retain lightweight title. Afterward Conn gives up the title to campaign as a heavyweight.

July 17 - In a non-title fight between two champions, welterweight champion Henry Armstrong stops lightweight champion Lew Jenkins, six rounds, New York.

Oct 4 - Overwhelming underdog Fritzie Zivic end the reign of Henry Armstrong, winning 15 round decision and welterweight title, New York.

Oct 4 - 19 year old Ray Robinson makes his pro debut, KOing, Joe Escheverria, two rounds, New York.


Jan 17 - Fritzie Zivic stops Henry Armstrong, 12 rounds, New York to retain welterweight title.

March 21 - Joe Louis, in the last heavyweight title fight scheduled for 20 rounds, KOs Abe Simon, 13 rounds, Detroit.

April 4 - Lou Nova stops Max Baer, eight rounds, New York. Afterwards Baer announces his retirement.

May 23 - Joe Louis, nearly knocked out of the ring in the first, comes back to floor Buddy Baer, three times in the sixth, the last after the bell ends the round. When Ancil Hoffman, Baer's manager refuses to let Baer come out for the seventh round, Referee Arthur Donavon disqualifies Baer, Louis retains heavyweight title.

May 28 - Tony Zale, floored in the first round, gets up to KO Al Hostak, two rounds, Chicago to retain NBA/New York middleweight title.

June 18 - In one of boxing's classics, ex-light heavyweight champion Billy Conn, weighing just 169 pounds, out-boxes an in his prime Joe Louis over 12 rounds, shocking him with a left hook to the jaw in the 12th. When Conn elects to trade with Louis in the 13th, he gets floored by Louis for the full count as Louis retains the title.

July 29 - Freddie (Red) Cochrane defeats Fritzie Zivic, 15 rounds, Newark, to win welterweight title.

Aug 26 - Gus Lesnevich defeats Tami Mauriello, 15 rounds, New York, to win vacant light heavyweight title.

Sept 29 - Joe Louis KOs Lou Nova, six rounds, New York, to retain heavyweight title. it is his seventh successful defense for the year, still a heavyweight division record.

Oct 6 - Freddie (Red) Cochrane defeats Lew Jenkins, 10 rounds, New York.

Oct 31 - Ray Robinson defeats Fritzie Zivic, 10 rounds, New York.

Nov 28 - Tony Zale, down in the first, gets up to take 15 round decision from Georgie Abrams, New York, to become first undisputed middleweight champion in 12 years.


Jan 9 - Joe Louis KOs Buddy Baer, one round, New York, to defend heavyweight title.

Jan 17 - Muhammad Ali is born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in Louisville.

Feb 13 - Billy Conn defeats Tony Zale, 12 rounds, New York.

March 27 - Joe Louis KOs Abe Simon, six rounds, New York, to retain heavyweight title. It will be Louis' last fight for more then four years.

April 24 - Jack Blackburn, former lightweight contender who trained Joe Louis from the beginning of his career, dies at 58 in Chicago.

May 25 - Ezzard Charles defeats Charley Burley, 10 rounds, Pittsburgh.

Oct 2 - Ray Robinson defeats Jake LaMotta, 10 rounds, New York.

Oct 27 - Ezzard Charles defeats Joey Maxim, 10 rounds, Pittsburgh.

Nov 20 - Willy Pep, just 20, defeats Chalky Wright, 5 rounds, New York, to win featherweight title.


Feb 5 - Jake LaMotta defeats Ray Robinson, 10 rounds, Detroit, Robinson's first loss as a professional after 40 consecutive wins.

March 17 - In the last fight to go more then 15 rounds, Bobby Ruffin KOs Bobby McIntyre, 17 rounds, New Orleans.

March 19 - Ex-lightweight champion Sammy Angott defeats featherweight champion Willy Pep, 10 rounds, New York. It is Pep's first loss after 62 consecutive wins.

March 31 - Lloyd Marshall KOs Ezzard Charles, eight rounds, Cleveland.

Aug 27 - Ray Robinson defeats Henry Armstrong, 10 rounds, New York.

Nov 23 - Manuel Ortiz defeats Benny Goldberg, 15 rounds, Los Angeles, to retain bantamweight title, his eight successful title defense, a record in his division.


Jan 12 - Future heavyweight champion Joe Frazier is born in Beafort, S.C.

April 21 - Charley Burley defeats Archie Moore, 10 rounds, Hollywood.

June 7 - Ike Williams defeats Sammy Angott, 10 rounds, Philadelphia.

Aug 4 - Beau Jack defeats Bob Montgomery, 10 rounds, New York, non-title. Admission to the bout is through the sale of war bonds, the live gate is a whopping, $35, 864,000, all going to the war effort.

Dec 22 - Harold Green, saved by the bell after being flattened by a right, defeats Rocky Graziano, 10 rounds, New York.


March 9 - Rocky Graziano, a 7-1 underdog , takes a pounding, then explodes to stop Billy Arnold, three rounds,  New York.

April 18 - Ike Williams KOs Juan Zurita, two rounds, Mexico City, to win NBA lightweight title, a hostile crowd chases Williams and handlers from ring without championship belt.

May 21 - Archie Moore defeats Lloyd Marshall, 10 rounds, Baltimore.

June 29 - Rocky Graziano, behind after nine, rallies to KO welterweight champion, Freddie (Red) Cochrane.

Aug 2 - Jersey Joe Walcott defeats Joe Baski, 12 rounds, Camden, N. J.

Aug 24 - Rocky Graziano comes from behind again to stop welterweight champ Freddie (Red) Cochrane, 10 rounds, New York.

Sept 28 - Rocky Graziano KOs Harold Green, three rounds, New York. Many years later Green will claim that he was forced to take a dive.


March 29 - Rocky Graziano KOs welterweight champion Marty Servo, two rounds, New York. Months later, Servo, his nose baldy broken in the bout announces his retirement.

May 20 - Ezzard Charles defeats Archie Moore, 10 rounds, Pittsburgh.

June 7 - Willie Pep KOs Sal Bartolo, 12 rounds, New York to unify featherweight title.

June 10 - Former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson dies from injuries suffered in auto accident, Raleigh, N.C.

June 19 - In his first fight in four years, Joe Louis KOs Billy Conn, eight rounds, Bronx, to retain heavyweight title.

July 25 - Willie Pep, in non-title fight against Jackie Graves, wins the third round on all officials' cards by feinting, bobbing and weaving without throwing a single punch in the round. Pep goes on to stop Graves, eight rounds, Minneapolis.

Aug 28 - Joey Maxim defeats Jersey Joe Walcott, 10 rounds, Camden.

Sept 27 - In the first installment of boxing's greatest trilogy. Tony Zale floors Rocky Graziano in the first, then is floored and saved by the bell in the second. Despite taking a pounding, Zale, fighting with a broken right thumb, goes to the body and finally dropped Graziano for the count in sixth round, new York, to retain middleweight title.

Nov 6 - Ray Robinson floored in the fifth and out on his feet, finally wakes up in round nine and stops Artie Levin in 10, Cleveland.

Dec 6 - Marcel Cerdon, in first fight in America, defeats George Abrams, 10 rounds, New York.


Jan 6 - Jersey Joe Walcott defeats Joey maxim, 10 rounds, Philadelphia.

Jan 8 - Featherweight champion Willie Pep suffers a broken leg and fractured vertebrae in New Jersey plane crash.

March 17 - In his pro debut, Rocky Marciano, KOs Lee Epperson, three rounds, Holyoke, Massachusetts.

June 17 - In his first fight since his suffering severe injuries in a plane crash in January, Willie Pep defeats Victor Flores, 10 rounds, non-title, Hartford.

June 24 - Ray Robinson KOs Jimmy Doyle, nine rounds, Cleveland, to retain welterweight title. Doyle later does of head injuries.

July 16 - Rocky Graziano down early and both eyes cut and swollen badly, come back to stop Tony Zale, six rounds, Chicago, to win middleweight title.

Aug 4 - Ike Williams KOs Bob Montgomery, six rounds, Philadelphia, to win undisputed lightweight title.

Oct 31 - Marcel Cerdan, down three times in second round, gets up to defeat Anton Raadik, ten rounds, Chicago.

Nov 14 - Billy Fox stops Jake LaMotta, four rounds, New York. Years later, LaMotta admits to having deliberately thrown the bout in exchange for an eventual shot at middleweight title.

Dec 5 - Joe Louis, down in the first and fourth, squeaks by with a controversial 15 round split decision over Jersey Joe Walcott, New York, to retain heavyweight title.


Jan 13 - Ezzard Charles KOs Archie Moore, eight rounds, Cleveland.

Feb 27 - Ike Williams defeats Kid Gavilan, 10 rounds, non-title, New York.

March 5 - Gus Lesnevich KOs Billy Fox, one round, New York to retain light heavyweight title.

April 26 - Kid Gavilan defeats Tommy Bell, 10 rounds, Philadelphia.

June 10 - In the final of their trilogy, Tony Zale flattens Rocky Graziano, three rounds, Newark, to regain the middleweight title.

June 25 - Joe Louis, down in the the third round, comes from behind to KO Jersey Joe Walcott, 11 rounds, New York, to retain heavyweight title.

July 26 - Freddie Mills defeats Gus Lesnevich, 15 rounds, London, to win light heavyweight title

Aug 3 - Former welterweight and middleweight champion Tommy Ryan dies at age 78, Van Nuys, California.

Sept 21 - Marcel Cedan stops Tony Zale, 12 rounds, Jersey City, to win middleweight title.

Sept 23 - Ray Robinson defeats Kid Gavilan, 10 rounds, non-title, New York.

Oct 29 - Sandy Saddler KOs Willie Pep, four rounds, New York, to win featherweight title.


Jan 28 - Kid Gavilan defeats lightweight champion Ike Williams, 10 rounds, non-title, New York.

Feb 11 - In the finest performance of his career, Willie Pep defeats Sandy Saddler, 15 rounds, New York, to regain featherweight title.

March 1 - After a record of 11 years, eight months, heavyweight champion Joe Louis retires.

May 23 - Joey Maxim defeats Gus Lesenvich, 15 rounds, Cincinnati, for vacant American light heavyweight title.

June 2 - Bruce Woodcock stops Freddie Mills, 14 rounds, London, to retain British and Empire heavyweight titles.

June 16 - Jake LaMotta stops Marcel Cerdan, 10 rounds, Detroit, to win middleweight title.

June 22 - Ezzard Charles defeats Jersey Joe Walcott, 15 rounds, Chicago, to win vacant NBA heavyweight title.

July 11 - Ray Robinson defeats Kid Gavilan, 15 rounds, Philadelphia, to retain welterweight title.

Oct 27 - On route to a rematch with Jake LaMotta, former middleweight champion, Marcel Cerdon, 32, is killed along with his manager Jo Longman and 46 others when their plane crashed in Azores. 

Dec 30 - Rocky Marciano KOs Carmine Vingo, six rounds, New York. Vingo critically injured, undergoes brain surgery, he survives, but will never fight again.