Thursday, June 26, 2008

Flord Patterson -vs- Ingemar Johansson: 6-26-1959

This date in time: June 26, 1959. Floyd Patterson -vs- Ingemar Johansson for the World's Heavyweight title. The Swede Johansson defeated the American Patterson with a devastating right hand in the 3rd round at Yankee Stadium in New York. An outdoor crowd of 21,961 braved threatening weather conditions to witness the event. The utter irony of the fight was that both men were participants in the 1952 Olympic games where Patterson won a middleweight Gold Medal, and where Johansson was disqualified by a referee for 'not trying'. The Swede had a bout against another American, Ed Sanders, and both fighters actually stayed away from each other, trying to 'feel each other out', when the official abruptly stopped the fight by disqualifying Johansson. And it was Ingemar who was portrayed as a coward when he seemed to be disinclined to fight the American. It was learned later that his corner had instructed him to allow Sanders to do all the leading and then counter-punch him. Patterson brought his Gold Medal home to America as a hero, whereas Johansson returned to Sweden in disgrace of himself, as well as his country, after having not been allowed to stand on the medal stand nor receive his Silver Medal. Not until this monumental victory over Patterson could "Ingy" feel vindicated for the debacle in Helsinki. He was no longer a coward. Now he was the Heavyweight Champion of the World! He had knocked Patterson down seven times in this fight. Seven. And Patterson had been a 5-1 favorite. He had been the youngest to win the Heavyweight Title, now he was the youngest to lose it also. This was a distinction no one had planned on, as this was considered as big an upset as the heavyweight division had ever known. But it also opened an entire new era for a boxing division in dire need of renewed interest to help it return to its once lofty status. This fight invigorated the glamor division, and the two participants went on to face each other two more times over a span of two years. Each of the three fights ended in knockouts, with Patterson winning the final two bouts, and each fight was better than the one that preceded it. This rivalry, of sorts, had put the heavyweight division back in the limelight, and primed it for the Liston/Clay and Ali/Frazier classics that awaited down the road. It all started this date in history ,1959.

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