Some knockouts are simply a joy to watch. Some KO’s, seemingly so effortlessly scored yet in fact cunningly devised and practised over and over in the gym, appear to come from nowhere, often when the man landing the thunderbolt is losing the fight. One truly memorable, in fact unforgettable knockout took place on this day back in 1951. And the man who scored it made boxing history courtesy of his perfect, textbook punch.
At age 37, and after losing in four previous world heavyweight title challenges, Jersey Joe Walcott, born Arnold Cream, was a hefty underdog going into his third fight with the superb Ezzard Charles (for some experts and fans alike THE greatest 175 pounder ever, this despite the fact that Ezz never won the world light heavyweight title). Charles had twice decisioned Walcott and there really was no reason to believe Jersey Joe would turn the tables in the third fight. For sure, there was no reason to think Walcott would score the kind of sizzling KO any fictitious fight film would be proud of.
But Walcott, at a hardened, you could even say grizzled 47-18-1(30) coming in, did it. The fight took place at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and defending heavyweight champ Charles, 71-5-1(39) was listed in some places as a 9/1 betting favourite. If anyone did put down any hard cash on a Walcott win, a Walcott KO win, they sure went home happy.
Coming out of a clinch just seconds into the 7th round, Walcott, seemingly without a care in the world, with both arms held low, walked towards Charles in what was almost a stroll. And then he struck with a power-packed punch that was as accurately placed as it was timed. Bang! A perfect left hook exploded into Charles’ jaw, the blow violently twisting his head around. Charles fell, first onto his face and then, as he instinctively tried to rise, onto his back in a corner. It was over at :55 of round seven and Walcott was the new heavyweight king.
It would, as fans know, be some 44 years before George Foreman broke Jersey Joe’s record as the oldest man to win the world heavyweight title; Foreman scoring a shock KO over Michael Moorer to regain the crown, this in November of 1994. But as great as Foreman’s achievement undoubtedly was, Walcott’s history-making knockout was better, more exquisite.
The KO, the one-punch KO scored by Walcott remains a fan fave today, the lights out handy-work Jersey Joe displayed being an often watched, and watched again, and marvelled over, example of the art of punching.
This really was/is a KO that is a joy to behold.