Sunday, April 02, 2023  |



When ballpark fights ruled boxing

Fighters Network

It would be impossible to list all of the great stadium bouts, but here are 10 that made history:

The Polo Grounds, New York: Jack Dempsey-Luis Firpo (1923)
The wildest six minutes in boxing history, as Dempsey gets knocked out of the ring in the first round and comes back to KO Firpo in two. Attendance: 85,000.

Sesquicentennial Stadium, Philadelphia: Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney (1926)
Tunney ends the Dempsey era, winning by 10-round decision. Attendance: 120,757.

Soldiers’ Field, Chicago: Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney II (1927)
Dempsey nearly regains the title during the battle of the “long count,” but Tunney survives and outpoints Dempsey in 10. Perhaps the most revered sporting event of the 1920s. Attendance: 104,000.

Sandbahn Lokstedt, Hamburg, Germany: Max Schmeling-Walter Neusel (1934)
Two of Germany’s top heavyweights do battle, with Schmeling stopping Neusel in nine rounds. Attendance: 102,000.

Comiskey Park, Chicago: Joe Louis-Jim Braddock (1937)
Louis comes off the canvas to stop Braddock in the eighth, beginning Louis’ 11-year reign as heavyweight champion. Attendance: 45,722.

The Polo Grounds, New York: Joe Louis-Billy Conn (1941)
Louis KOs Conn in the 13th, but only after Conn uses his clever boxing skills to dazzle the champion for most of the fight. Attendance: 54,487.

The Polo Grounds, New York: Sugar Ray Robinson-Randy Turpin II (1951)
After Robinson loses the middleweight championship to Turpin in London, he regains the title with a dramatic 10th-round knockout. Attendance: 61,370.

Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia: Rocky Marciano-Jersey Joe Walcott (1952)
Behind on points and bleeding, Marciano scores a dramatic knockout in the 13th round to win the heavyweight championship. Attendance: 40,379.

The Superdome, New Orleans: Muhammad Ali- Leon Spinks II (1978)
“The Greatest” avenges an earlier defeat and wins the heavyweight championship for the third time. Attendance: 63,315.

Olympic Stadium, Montreal: Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard (1980)
Media darling Leonard loses to Duran in a classic 15-round contest. Attendance: 46,317.