On This Day: Rocky Marciano earns shot at the heavyweight title

rocky marciano
Rocky Marciano set himself up for a crack at Jersey Joe Walcott's crown back in 1952
  • A crowd of 31,118 produced a gate of $220,000.
  • Each fighter received 30% of the gate.
  • Rocky Marciano was a solid 2 to 1 favourite.
  • There was no radio, television or theatre TV for the fight.

NOW that Rocky Marciano has disposed so summarily of Harry Matthews in their undoubted eliminator for the world’s heavyweight championship at the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx (July 28, 1952), the International Boxing Club of New York has announced they will stage a title bout between Marciano and champion Jersey Joe Walcott in September at the same venue.

But that does not mean to say the fight will not take place, although such is highly probable. Any doubt on the subject is due to the fact that for the first time since the days of Tex Rickard, the fistic dictators have not got a stranglehold on the champion.

The return bout clause operated when Walcott knocked out Ezzard Charles; it was there when Charles made his abortive effort to win back his title. Victory for Jersey Joe meant the break in the return clause and for once he is sitting pretty.

This gives him an opportunity to do a bit of dictating on his own account and his manager Felix Bocchicchio, is going to see that Old Joe isn’t pushed around anymore.

For one thing he’s demanding 45 per cent. this time, pointing out that when Walcott fought Joe Louis the first time he only got 15 per cent. and for Charles at Pittsburgh a mere 17 ½ per cent. He is also asking for the fight to take place earlier than the proposed date, September 23.

The I.B.C. are not in a position to order Bocchicchio or Walcott about – in fact, the champion’s manager has already intimated that unless they get their terms for a fight with Rocky Marciano, they would be quite happy to give Johnny Williams a title shot instead.

Of course, this may be pure baloney, if we can be excused the contradiction of words, but it does seem that in American fight circles the British heavyweight champion has made a distinct impression.

Back in 1937, no one in America would have given Tommy Farr a chance of fighting for the world’s title until the late Sydney Hulls matched the Welshman with Max Schmeling in a contest he was going to label as for the vacant championship. The next thing we knew Tommy was on his way across the Atlantic.

A similar switch could happen with Johnny Williams. Walcott knows he must meet Marciano some time, so why not first a lucrative match with the British champion?

Walcott realises Rocky is a dangerous customer, and might prefer to risk getting outpointed by Williams, rather than knocked out by Marciano.

Not that Jersey Joe is likely to be beaten so easily as was Harry Matthews, who fought far below his noted form and was a great disappointment.


The Seattle boxer was at a weight disadvantage of 8 ½ lbs. and was probably affected by the New York heat. He started off well and scored with some sharp blows, but the first left hook landed by Marciano in the second paved the way to victory.

This was followed by two more on the chin, the last of which spreadeagled Matthews over the lower rope in his own corner. He raised his back of the boards at “seven,” was on his knees at “eight,” but could not get to his feet in time to beat the count.

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