It was the 13th round of the World Heavyweight Championship final. Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott were both aiming to win the title. Forty-three seconds into the round, Marciano made Walcott unconscious with a right hook to his opponent’s jaw. Walcott fell down, and Rocky Marciano became the World Heavyweight Champion on 23 September 1952. He would go on to hold the title till his retirement four years later. Known by many as the ‘Fight of the Year’, the 1952 encounter between Rocky Marciano and Walcott remains one of the most iconic boxing matches to have taken place.
The ‘Fight of the Year’:
The game was not easy for Marciano. Although he had earned fame as a hard-hitter, Walcott was in another league altogether. The aging fighter and then World Heavyweight champion had predicted that he would knock Rocky Marciano out. In the first round, his words almost came true. Walcott’s punch landed Rocky to the ground, making it the first time in his career that he was floored.
The determined Brockton native shrugged off the move and went back to making his best efforts. Marciano fell behind in terms of points. But the boxer’s never-say-never attitude made him land a solid punch on Walcott’s jaw in the 13th round. The punch was a clear knockout and made Marciano create history and secure the World Heavyweight Championship after 43 fights.
The match was even more hyped up as over 1,40,000 fans tuned in to their television sets to watch the encounter.
Rocky Marciano kept up a superb defence of his title and went on to do so six times. In 1953, he once again knocked out Walcott, this time in 145 seconds flat, to clinch the championship for the second time.
Apart from Walcott, the boxer’s notable matches were against Joe Louis and Ezzard Charles, both of whom were also former heavyweight champions.
On 27 April 1956, Marciano retired from the ring. He remained the only person to have had a perfect record, being undefeated in 49 fights. The boxer won 43 of those games by knockouts. For many, Rocky Marciano remains one of the best boxers in history.