Both men were coming off the back of fights with the ‘Brown Bomber’ Joe Louis, who had been on the comeback trail.
Savold was up against it from the outset in his fight with the ‘Brown Bomber’ in June 1951. Louis drew blood from Lee’s nose as early as the first minute and he was cut again in the fifth from a series of heavy left hands, appearing to be in trouble in every round of the fight. It was another left, this time a terrific hook, which finished matters in the sixth and despite trying to rise, he was counted out.
Rocky, the bookmakers’ underdog before his clash with the Louis, paid no respect to the former champion who earned $88,000 more than him for their night’s work. According to Boxing News, Marciano put a definitive end to Louis’ comeback in his eighth round knockout victory at Madison Square Garden in October 1951.
Indeed, ‘up to the finish it was anybody’s fight, but Marciano ended the affair when he smashed his rival through the ropes and on to the floor outside the ring with a left and right to the jaw.’ Boxing News also awarded Marciano the Editor’s Award for the Best Performance of the Week October 22 to 27 for his defeat of Louis.
When Savold met the ‘Brockton Basher’ on February 13 1952, Rocky ended his career in a similarly brutal fashion. The fight was a bloody, one-sided affair from start to finish with Savold putting up little more resistance than a heavy bag.
Marciano opened up cuts on his man over both his eyes and when Lee returned to his corner at the end of the sixth round, his trainer Bill Daly asked the referee to stop the match and save his man any more punishment.
Rocky then defeated Gino Buonvino, Bernie Reynolds and Harry Matthews in a combined time of seven rounds before he met Jersey Joe Walcott at Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium for the heavyweight title.
Marciano was a slight betting favourite heading into the clash but it was Walcott who landed the first meaningful punch when he floored The Rock for the first time in 43 fights in the first round.
Marciano would go on to defend his title six times against the likes of Walcott, Ezzard Charles and Archie Moore before retiring as champion with a perfect, and as yet unmatched, 49-0 record.