Thursday, December 01, 2022  |



On this day: Ezzard Charles scores explosive second-round knockout of Bernie Reynolds

Photo by The Ring/ Getty Images

“The Cincinnati Cobra” strikes.

On October 8, 1952, Ezzard Charles scored a brutal second-round knockout over Bernie Reynolds at Cincinnati Gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio. The official time was 1:40.

Charles, the former heavyweight champion of the world, was coming off back-to-back defeats to Jersey Joe Walcott (UD 15) and Rex Layne (controversial 10-round points loss). The Walcott title rivalry had ended at two wins a piece but there would be no fifth chapter and Charles was now on the rebuild.

Reynolds was once a promising heavyweight from Fairfield, Connecticut. However, his pro start had been delayed by military service during World War II, and after amassing an impressive 51-7-1 record in the paid ranks, Reynolds elected to serve his country once again in Korea during the early 1950s. Those war years are believed to have costs him an ample amount of his prime.

But despite his relatively low ceiling in the sport, Reynolds shared the ring with three of the best to ever do it. He took part in a four-round exhibition with then-champion Joe Louis in 1948, and just five months prior to facing Charles, Reynolds was knocked out in three by fast-rising contender Rocky Marciano.

As was the case against “The Rock,” Reynolds was completely out of his depth against Charles.

The first round was fast-paced and the former champ controlled it with an accurate jab and a well-timed body attack. However, Charles was just getting started. Just before the midway point of the second, combinations began to land with alarming regularity. A left hook-right hand made Reynolds’ legs dip and a strong body attack set up an electrifying finish. A left hook to the jaw and a right hand high on the head momentarily froze Reynolds before he fell to the canvas as straight as a lamppost.

Charles, the consensus choice for greatest light heavyweight of all time, fought on until 1959. He was defeated twice by Marciano in title fights (UD 15 and KO 8).

The following year, Reynolds retired on the back of a first-round knockout loss to Canadian puncher Earl Walls.