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On this day: Jake LaMotta scores miracle 15th-round knockout over Laurent Dauthuille

Jake LaMotta (right) knocked out Laurent Dauthuille in the final seconds of Round 15. Photo by The Ring/ Getty Images
Fighters Network

You’re exhausted. You’re behind on points. You need a knockout. The opponent has never been stopped. You have less than three minutes to get the job done. It’s an impossible situation.

Unless you’re “The Bronx Bull.”

On Sept. 13, 1950, Jake LaMotta scored a spectacular final-minute 15th-round knockout over Laurent Dauthuille to save his middleweight championship at the Olympia Stadium in Detroit. The official time was 2:47.

LaMotta was making the first defense of the title he’d won from legendary Frenchman Marcel Cerdan. Just four months after surrendering his championship on a shoulder injury, Cerdan was tragically killed in a plane crash in Portugal. Dauthuille, who had already outpointed LaMotta in February 1949, was looking to reclaim the title for France.

After 14 rounds it looked like Dauthuille would have a second victory over the fiery New Yorker and the middleweight title belt around his waist. He was ahead by huge margins on two scorecards and slightly in front on another. LaMotta needed a miracle.

And he found it.

Following some showboating antics early on in the final round, LaMotta began to let his hands go. Defensively adept, Dauthuille moved his head brilliantly to avoid the worst of the champ’s flurries while pinned against the ropes. However, LaMotta wasn’t about to give up. Another brutal assault caused Dauthuille to wilt and a vicious left hook put him through the ropes and on to the ring apron. The gallant Frenchman was unable to beat the count and referee Lou Handler waved the fight off with just 13 seconds remaining.

The bout was later named The Ring Fight of the Year.