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On This Date in Sports August 18, 1958

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Floyd Patterson puts the heavyweight title on the line for the first time in a year as he takes on unbeaten Roy Harris at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. The unbeaten challenger took control of the fight early, knocking down Patterson in the second round. Patterson recovered and controlled the fight the rest of the way, winning after the Harris quit at the end of the 12 rounds.

Floyd Patterson was born on January 4, 1935, in Waco, North Carolina and raised on the streets of Brooklyn in New York. Heading down the wrong path, Patterson came under the tutelage of Cus D’Amato who trained him at his Gramercy Gym. At the age of 17, Floyd Patterson won a Gold Medal the Helsinki Olympics as Middleweight. After posting a 30-1 record in his first four years as a professional, Patterson won the heavyweight title on November 30, 1956, by beating Archie Moore with a fifth-round knockout following the retirement of Rocky Marciano.


Roy Harris was born on June 29, 1933, in the Cut and Shoot, Texas. Raised his entire life in the Texas, Harris was part of a large family that was part founding of Texas. After becoming a boxer, Harris played up his rural Texas background as he rose up the heavyweight ranks, winning his first 23 fight as a professional. With the upcoming challenge of Floyd Patterson, the town of Cut and Shoot became a national curiosity as Roy Harris appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The fight against Roy Harris was just Floyd Patterson’s third defense of the heavyweight title after defeating Tommy Jackson and Pete Rademacher with relative ease in 1957. The fight had set crowd record in California as 200,000 watched on closed-circuit television, including most of Harris’ family watching at a drive in Cut and Shoot. Those cheering for the underdog were brought to their feet early, as Harris sent Patterson to the canvas in the second round. To most observers, the champion appeared to be rusty in the early rounds. After a few rounds, Floyd Patterson began to look like the man who won the title again, and turned things around and knocked down Harris in the seventh. Patterson floored the challenger twice again in the eighth and appeared to be on the verge of putting the fight away. However, Roy Harris kept coming back and stayed on his feet in the next three rounds before going down for a fourth time in the 12th round. By now, Harris was a bloody mess and clear standing on guts alone. When he went to the corner after the 12th round beating, Roy Harris’ trainer Bill Gore decided his fighter had enough and advised referee Mushy Callahan that the fight was over.

After the fight, Roy Harris was disappointed but proud that he gave his best effort. He never again fought for the heavyweight title and retired in 1961 with a record of 30-5-1. After boxing, Harris became a lawyer, with an office out of his home in Cut and Shoot and later became the county clerk in Montgomery County. Floyd Patterson would lose the title in 1959 to Ingemar Johansson, winning it back a year later as part of a classic trilogy with the heavyweight from Sweden. In 1962, his final title reign came to an end with a loss to Sonny Liston. Floyd Patterson retired in 1972, after a loss to Muhammad Ali with a record of 55-8-1. After stepping out of the ring, he became a trainer and was heavily involved in the New York boxing commission up until his final years.