Many memories made in April
Many of the most notable entries in boxing history were made in the month of April, going back well over a century.
For instance, James J Jeffries set a record that lasted nearly 100 years when he knocked out Jack Finnegan in 55 seconds in Detroit on April 6, 1900.
Finnegan was down four times in a heavyweight fight that did not last a minute.
The record was broken only in April 1998 when Herbie Hide stopped Damon Reed in 52 seconds in a WBO title fight.
In one of the biggest upsets in the history of the heavyweight division, Lennox Lewis was knocked out in the fifth round by 20-1 outsider Hasim Rahman in their fight at Carnival City, Brakpan, on April 22, 2001.
The longest fight of the 20th century took place in Paris on April 17, 1909. The fighters were Joe Jeanette and Sam McVey, both black veteran heavyweights. The bout ended when McVey failed to come out for the 50th round.
On April 22, 1903 Jack Root outpointed veteran Charles Kid McCoy over ten rounds in Detroit, Michigan, to claim the world light-heavyweight title.
What makes this noteworthy is that there had been no such division until that year. It was established when Lou Houseman, a Chicago newspaperman who also promoted and managed boxers, found himself a spot of bother.
One of his boxers, Jack Root, found it difficult to make the middleweight limit but was too small to compete with the heavyweights.
Houseman proposed, in a newspaper article, that a new division be introduced. It would be known as the light-heavyweight class and the minimum weight limit would be 175 pounds (79.38 kg).
The division was introduced in England only in 1913 but was known there as the cruiserweight division.
Another interesting April fight featured the famous Jack Johnson. He stopped Sam McVey in 20 rounds to retain the “Negro” heavyweight title in San Francisco on April 22, 1904.
On April 30 that year, also in San Francisco, welterweight champion Joe Walcott seemed to be winning rather easily against Dixie Kid. But in the 20th round, referee Jim (Duck) Sullivan declared Kid the winner as a result of a foul by Walcott.
It emerged later that Sullivan had bet on Kid to win the fight.
On April 30, 1901, Terry McGovern knocked out Oscar Gardner in the fourth round in San Francisco to retain the world featherweight title.
Slightly less than three years before Jack Johnson won the world heavyweight title from Tommy Burns he was involved in one of the toughest fights of his career.
Johnson faced Sam Langford in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on April 26, 1906. Langford, who was outweighed by more than 12 kg, came back from two knockdowns but lost on points over 15 rounds.
Owen Moran beat Al Delmont on points over 20 rounds in London on April 22, 1907 to win the vacant world bantamweight title. Moran never defended the title because he moved up to featherweight and lightweight.
On April 18, 1908 Tommy Burns knocks out Jewey Smith in the fifth round in Paris to retain his heavyweight crown.
Five days later, on April 23, Mike (Twin) Sullivan defeated Jimmy Gardner over 25 rounds in Vernon, California, to retain his claim to the world welterweight title.
On April 11, 1910, Burns beats Bill Lang over 20 rounds in San Francisco to retain the world heavyweight title.
Ad Wolgast knocked out “One-Round” Hogan in the second round in New York on April 26, 1911, to retain the world lightweight title.
A year later, on April 22, 1912, Digger Stanley beat Charles Ledoux over 20 rounds in London to gain recognition as the holder of the British version of the world bantamweight title.
Johnny Dundee, who was then 19 years old, upset world featherweight champion Johnny Kilbane in Vernon, California on April 29, 1913, holding him to a 20-round draw.
During the same month, world champion George Chip stood in for his brother Joe in a fight against Al McCoy. Chip lost his middleweight title when McCoy knocked him out in the first round of the fight in Brooklyn.
In a major upset in Havana, Jess Willard knocked out Jack Johnson in the 26th round on April 5, 1915 to win the world heavyweight championship.
In Paris on April 18, 1929, Frankie Genaro beat Emile (Spider) Pladner on a fifth-round foul to claim the world flyweight title.
Tony Canzoneri knocked out Jack Kid Berg in the third round to retain the world lightweight title and add the junior welterweight title in Chicago on April 24, 1931.
On April Fool’s Day in 1938, Joe Louis knocked out Harry Thomas in the fifth round to retain the world heavyweight title. They fought in Chicago.
Terry Allen beat Honore Pratesi over 15 rounds in Paris on April 25, 1950 to win the vacant world flyweight title.
Rocky Marciano announced his retirement on April 27, 1956. The undefeated heavyweight champion was only 32 years old. He won 43 of his 49 fights by knockout.
Emile Griffith dropped Dick Tiger for the first time in his career on the way to winning the world middleweight title in New York on April 25, 1966. He won on points over 15 rounds.
On April 28, 1967, Muhammad Ali refused to serve in the US Armed Forces. He was immediately stripped of his WBA heavyweight title.
Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns clashed in one of the most explosive first rounds in history when they met in Las Vegas on April 15, 1985. Hagler, bleeding badly, stopped Hearns in the third round to retain his world middleweight title.
Sugar Ray Leonard, in his first fight in nearly three years, beat Marvin Hagler on a split decision to win the WBC middleweight title in Las Vegas on April 6, 1987.
Muhammad Ali battled to outpoint Jimmy Young over 15 rounds to retain the heavyweight title in Landover on April 30, 1976.
Former world heavyweight champion Joe Louis died at the age of 66 in Las Vegas on April 12, 1981.
Five-time middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson died at the age of 67 in Culver City, California, on April 12, 1989.
Evander Holyfield defeated George Foreman over 12 rounds in Atlantic City on April 19, 1991 to retain his heavyweight title.
Michael Moorer became the first southpaw heavyweight champion by beating Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas on April 22, 1994. He won the WBA and IBF titles.
Naseem Hamed lost for the first time since he was a 15-year-old amateur when Marco Antonio Barrera beat him in Las Vegas on April 17, 2001.
SOUTH AFRICANS IN MEMORABLE APRIL FIGHTS
beat Joe Rivera over 12 rounds to retain his WBA junior lightweight title in Madrid on April 26, 1988.
Curtis Cokes stopped Willie Ludick in the fifth round in Dallas, Texas on April 16, 1968 to retain the world welterweight title.
lost on points over 15 rounds to Victor Galindez in Johannesburg on April 7, 1975, to retain the WBA light-heavyweight title.
Davey Moore knocked out Charlie Weir in the fifth round to retain WBA junior middleweight title in Johannesburg on April 26, 1982.
lost in a challenge for the WBA welterweight title when Pipino Cuevas knocked him out in the fifth round in Houston, Texas, on April 6, 1980.
knocked out Harold Mestre in the second round at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on April 29, 1995 to win the IBF bantamweight title.
On April 25, 2003 Mzonke Fana stopped Hungarian southpaw Laszlo Bognor in the third round retain his WBC International super-featherweight title.
was stopped 1 minute 48 seconds into the second round when he challenged Marco Antonio Barrera for the WBC super-featherweight title in El Paso, Texas, on April 9, 2005.
one of the most popular SA fighters of his era, went AWOL on the day of the weigh-in for a fight against Mads Larsen in Copenhagen in April 2003. Thobela later blamed the incident on a mental collapse.