65 years ago in Chicago, 21 year old Floyd Patterson and his blazing fists made boxing history. With the retirement of the beloved Rocky Marciano, the richest prize in sports was up for grabs, and the two top contenders: Patterson and “Ageless” Archie Moore, fought for it. How old was Archie? Officially he was 42, some said 39, with Moore coming out with a great quip: “I’ve given it a lot of thought and have decided I must have been three when I was born,” Moore said.
Times sure have changed, and the weights of the two men show this in quite startling fashion – Moore scaled 188 pounds, while Patterson was even lighter at 182! Today’s giants weigh, as we know, upwards of 260 to 270 pounds. Still, the Patterson-Moore fight was as legit as it got and the winner would be the new heavyweight king. Moore, likely due to his enormous edge in experience, was a close betting favourite. Also, Patterson had injured his right hand in his June 1955 fight with Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson, and the bookies added this in as a factor when compiling the numbers.
It was a one-sided fight but the underdog was the man dominating. Moore, an astonishing 160-20-8, was unable to get anything going; his reflexes and style not able to cope with Patterson’s speed and his constant movement. Patterson, 30-1 (the loss coming via decision in 1954, to Joey Maxim) struck in the fourth, when he had a bleeding Moore looking unsteady. Then, in the fifth, Floyd crashed home with a swift left hook to the head and down went “The Ol’ Mongoose.” Moore got up but he was soon decked again, this time for the count, by a right hand to the head that left him on one knee, unable to rise.
Afterwards, Moore was disgusted by his own performance. “I’ve lost many fights but never did I lose one in such a sorry fashion,” Archie later said when recalling the Patterson defeat.
New heavyweight king Patterson, with the wise (and paranoid) Cus D’Amato looking out for him, went on to reign for two-and-a-half years, before he fell foul of Ingemar Johansson and his “Bingo” punch in the summer of 1959. But after that massive upset loss, Patterson made yet more boxing history, this by becoming the very first two-time heavyweight champion; Floyd returning the KO favour to Ingo the following June.
Moore went back to defending his light-heavyweight crown, and in late 1958, proving he was far from finished, Archie gave the world an epic, knockdown-filled battle with Yvon Durelle.
Both Patterson and Moore are today recognised as true greats. Moore especially.