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On This Date in Sports May 15, 1953: Win Rocky Win

In a fight in Philadelphia on September 23, 1952, Rocky Marciano captured the heavyweight championship with a stunning 13th-round knockout of Jersey Joe Walcott. In his first title defense, Marciano took 2:25 seconds to floor Walcott again in the first round of a fight at Chicago Stadium. The Brockton Blockbuster improves to 44-0 with the win. Rocky Marciano would hold the title for two more years, retiring with a record of 49-0.

Born September 1, 1923, in Brockton, Massachusetts, Rocco Francis Machegiano was a multisport athlete raised by Italian immigrants in suburban Boston. A blue-collar worker, Marciano performed several jobs as an amateur boxer, ranging from ditch digging to delivering coal. After serving in the Army during World War II, Rocky Marciano fought for the Golden Gloves and tried out for the Chicago Cubs. After a hand injury caused him to withdraw from the Olympic tryouts, he began to turn professional.

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Rocky Marciano won his first 16 fights by knockout in his first two years as a professional. Over the next three years, Marciano rose up the ranks, dominating with quick knockouts, as he rarely went the distance. In 1951, he fought Joe Louis at Madison Square Garden, handing the Brown Bomber an eighth-round knockout in his final fight.

Rocky Marciano finally got a chance at the heavyweight crown on September 23, 1952, when he faced 38-year-old Jersey Joe Walcott at the Philadelphia Municipal Stadium. Marciano found himself behind early in the fight as he was knocked down in the first round. Over the first 12 rounds, the veteran Walcott kept Marciano off balance and was ahead on all three scorecards. Knowing he needed a knockout to win as he entered the final three rounds, Rocky Marciano turned up the offense in the 13th round. He backed Jersey Joe Walcott into a corner, where he landed a devastating blow to Walcott’s jaw and earned a knockout.

His first title defense on May 15, 1953, would be a rematch with Jersey Joe Walcott. Who at the age of 39 had his best days behind him. When he won the heavyweight title, he was the oldest champion at the age of 37. It would not take long for Rocky Marciano to retain his title as he quickly took control and recorded a knockout just 2:25 into the first round. It would be the final fight of Walcott’s career.

Rocky Marciano would not hold the title long, fighting five more times before retiring with a  perfect 49-0 record, with 43 wins by knockout. The Brockton Blockbuster would be the only heavyweight champion to retire with an unblemished record.