On This Day: Primo Carnera defended his world heavyweight title with 15-round decision over Paulino Uzcudun

Primo Carnera
Matt Bevan recounts the first world heavyweight title defence of Primo Carnera, that freakish Italian giant

OCTOBER 22 1933 saw Primo Carnera, the Italian world heavyweight champion, take on Spaniard Paulino Uzcudun in Rome, with the Italian going on to win a unanimous decision over 15 rounds.

CARNERA was also defending the European belt in what was a rematch from three years previously, when Carnera won a controversial split decision in Barcelona in front of 75,000 people, which was the largest crowd to witness a sporting event in Spain at the time.

THE Italian, nicknamed “The Ambling Alp”, was seen as a fluke world champion by observers and was defending his new title for the first time following a win over Jack Sharkey to claim it four months earlier at the Madison Square Garden Bowl in Long Island.

UZCUDUN, a former butcher nicknamed “The Basque Woodchopper”, was a dangerous opponent, with a powerful left hook and he wasn’t afraid to take on any other heavyweight despite only being 5ft 10ins.

THE Spaniard was giving away plenty of height to the 6ft 5in champion, who was also supported that night by the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, who was amongst the 70,000 in attendance.

IT was a close fight, with Carnera eventually getting the decision against the incredibly tough Uzcudun, who unlike most of Carnera’s opponents, wasn’t knocked down once.

IT was Uzcudun’s only opportunity at the world heavyweight title and he went on to fight three more times, losing and drawing with Max Schmeling, before getting stopped for the first time in his career by Joe Louis in his final fight in 1935.

AS for Carnera he defended his title again when he outpointed future hall of famer Tommy Loughran in 1934. The Italian goliath had an incredible 84lbs advantage over Loughran – a natural light-heavyweight – the greatest weight disparity in world title fight history.

CARNERA lost the belt in his next fight to Max Baer, when he stopped him in the 11th round back in Long Island, in a fight that included 10 reported knockdowns. Like Uzcudun Carnera was stopped later in his career by Joe Louis.

CARNERA later became a US citizen and resumed his wrestling career, becoming world champion, after he retired from boxing. He starred in several movies, as well as fighting against the Nazis in World War II as part of the Italian anti-Fascist partisans.

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