On this day: Rocky Marciano breaks down Ezzard Charles in eight rounds
It was never a good idea to face “The Rock” twice.
On September 17, 1954, Rocky Marciano scored a punishing eighth-round knockout over Ezzard Charles to retain the heavyweight championship of the world at Yankee Stadium in New York. The official time was 2:36.
The pair had met at the same location three months earlier to the day. While Marciano earned the 15-round unanimous decision he was awarded, Charles proved to be a very formidable foe. He boxed beautifully at times and stood up to everything the champion had to offer.
That was not the case in the sequel.
Marciano, then 46-0, hurt “The Cincinnati Cobra” with a big right hand in Round 2 and scored a knockdown with his follow up assault. Charles was up quick, but his evening went from bad to worse.
While Marciano suffered a shocking – and potentially fight-ending – cut to his nose in Round 6, he was largely dominant. Charles, an all-time great light heavyweight, and a former heavyweight champ, gamely returned fire, but he was just overwhelmed.
Another cut opened up around Marciano’s left eye in the seventh and his face was a mess. However, the blood had no effect on the champ’s vision. He pounded his foe with a brutal array of power shots and floored him again with another right in the eighth. Brave to the last, Charles rose to face the inevitable and ultimately succumbed to a brutal six-punch combination finish. He was counted out by referee Al Bearl.
The Marciano-Charles rematch was later named The Ring’s Fight of the Year.