Night of the Sluggers (diary entry)


Tuesday night’s fight night history began our first step into the 1930s and we looked to the heavyweight division with one relevant detour into the light heavyweight division. The boxing scene of the 1930s might definitely be considered to be one of the greatest or even the first true golden era. Never before had so many different personalities clashed in the ring and had the drama been so high. Besides various factors created by the Great Depression, this was a time when the next generation were building heavily upon the foundations already lain by everyone from Jim Corbett to Jack Dempsey. The ’20s had ended with the heavyweight championship vacated by Gene Tunney. The last time this occurred was in 1905 when Jim Jeffries had retired having drawn the colour line against such greats as Sam Langford, Sam McVey, Joe Jeanette and Jack Johnson who would fight him five years later when Johnson held the title. Jeffries had left the title to be fought over by his hand-picked paper contenders. The victor had then been beated by Tommy Burns who eventually would cave into Jack Johnson’s relentless campaign and the rest is history (of which a fair amount  has been recorded in these lesson reports). However, this matters were quite different. There were several worthy contenders for the throne who had been proving their worth through the tail end of the 1920s, maturing perfectly into the champions of the 1930s. The colour line was still in place, as it had been since Johnson had taken the belt in 1908 (he also drew it) and when he had lost it in 1915, but it would be crossed for the last time in spectacular fashion in 1937 with the ascent of the great Joe Louis. Prior to that there would five world champions and a culture of talented challengers would develop around them.

Max Baer versus Max Schmelling 1933

195588032_10159701390993804_6021648570747679007_nMax Baer was our real focus today as he links in with the 1929 fight we previous covered when James J Braddock lost to Tommy Loughran. Braddock’s story will be properly picked up next lesson, but for tonight I decided to take a look at the man who he would face in his historical upset. Max Baer was another great contradictory personality and is the man considered to be mainly responsible for holding public attention in boxing between the Dempsey era and the Joe Louis reign. His portrayal in “Cinderella Man”, where he is cast as boorish villain is in stark contradiction to virtually every contemporary source. Baer was well-liked by both the public and those who knew him. Inside the ring he earned a fearsome reputation for the damage he could inflict with his right hand. At least one but probably two fighters died due the damage he could deal out to his opponents. Frankie Campbell was ahead on points by round five of his match with Baer in 1930 when one of his cornermen, an individual who had recently jumped camps, began taunting Baer. Baer demonstrated one of his classic in-ring eruptions and in the final flurry Campbell was being held up by the ropes. Baer was separated from his opponent and Campbell would die in hospital the next day. Baer would dedicated the next six purses from his following fights to Campbell’s family and pay half of Campbell’s children’s college education. He would be troubled by nightmares and hated having a reputation as a killer. However, Ernie Schaeff’s death in 1932, attributed to a rather unimpressive jab thrown during a match with Primo Carnera, was traced back to damage inflicted on the boxer six months earlier when he had been beaten by Max Baer.

Baer’s style was that of the slugger. His limited arsenal, including several distinctive clinching tactics now the norm in modern boxing and some overtly dirty moves, was used to set up his crude overhand. As a personality, Baer had shades of Johnson’s in-ring humour and showmanship with Dempsey’s likeable charisma. The same year he fought Max Schmelling he was the lead star in a boxing drama/romance for MGM, “The Prizefighter and the Lady”, along with Jack Dempsey playing himself and Primo Carnera playing his opponent. In reality Dempsey had previously refereed a bout between Baer and Tommy Loughran, who you will recall from the previous two lessons, in early 1931. Loughran had given Baer a boxing lesson for 10 rounds, quite literally dancing circles around him to a points victory. However, proving an example of his likability, after the fight both Loughran and Dempsey had taken him under their wing to help improve his game. Dempsey remained a lifetime friend and stayed in his corner.

We might conclude that their pointers worked as Baer eventually made his way to a fight with former world heavyweight champion, Max Schmelling, in a light heavyweight contest. This fight had political significance. Schmelling, an apolitical who ended up harbouring two Jewish boys and stuck with his Jewish manager, was used as the Nazi’s poster boy in the 1930s. Max Baer, proud of his Jewish parentage, displayed a Star of David on his shorts in this fight and would continue to do so from this moment onwards. Schmelling was also a slugger but a more technical one who operated as a calculating counter-puncher. His behaviour of carefully studying opponents prior to fighting them had worked for him well when he handed the upcoming Joe Louis his first defeat, a twelfth round knockout, after an unblemished string of 24 victories. Schmelling won the World Heavyweight Championship becoming the first European-born to hold the title since Bob Fitzsimmons back in 1897 and the first German in recorded history. He fought for the title against the other number one ranked contender, Jack Sharkey, and won on a foul. After defeating Young Stribling by technical knockout in the 15th round of his title defence, he fought Sharkey again. This time he lost the title on a split decision. His next fight saw him defeat the great Mickey Walker (spotlighted in the previous lesson), one of the best boxers of the previous decade by way of a technical knockout in round eight.

Baer and Schmelling’s bout was largely even up until the knockout. Most historians have Baer ahead on points before the eventual knockout but give Schmelling a couple of rounds. Despite Schmelling demonstrating better technical ability, his defensive and calculated slugging did not stand up well to Baer’s aggression. Having said that, the majority of the fight was far from action-packed. Baer threw a lot of sloppy punches. His jab was present but didn’t do a lot of work. Schmelling just seemed perplexed by the haphazard style. Baer reminded me a little of Luis Firpo but a far more composed and skilled version. Looking over his career, he could handle fellow sluggers well and Schmelling was no exception. The fight demonstrated plenty of the classic Baer tactics. He was broader in the shoulders to Schmelling and controlled him in the clinch, often turning him. Baer also showed his use of the defensive cross-guard, a style that would be refined by the great Archie Moore before being passed onto many great heavyweights at the end of the 2oth century. At one point Schmelling even seemed to copy it.  There was plenty of smiling from Baer too until we reached the tenth round. This time we got to see the sudden explosion. The match up to this point had been described as ponderous and there were boos from the audience towards the end. However, I see  a lot of this including the conclusion being all part of the Max Baer unpredictability. He has long been described as having an awkward style. I am unsure what his strategy was with Baer, but so far it had been a lot of paced brawling. When the

After moving out of an ineffectual clinch Baer threw another one of his lazy jabs, which Schmelling parried. Schmelling then timed his own jab to Baer’s next lazy jab. The camera angle makes it difficult to see if Baer’s landed but Schmelling’s connected. In immediate response Baer moved back one step and then moved forward  with a rear hand short uppercut again blocked by Schmelling who also pulls back. However, it left Schmelling with a low guard. Baer probed with a light pawing jab as he pressed Schmelling into the ropes, a truly dangerous place for any Baer opponent to find themselves. Schmelling caught the jab again allowing his concentration to waver. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, Baer threw his trademark overhand. This was described by my client as something resembling a swipe. It struck Schmelling’s head like a wrecking ball. They briefly clinched off the ropes and it looked like the fight was going to return to normal but Baer had smelt blood. He clipped Schmelling with a short right inside the clinch then moved to the outside for a mid-range left hook. This second hook was only another clipping blow, but it sent Schmelling back into the ropes. His guad might have been up but that didn’t do much to stop another wrecking ball overhand from Baer. He then refernced with his left hand and continued to hammer in the rights and even came back with a totally illegal backhand (it looked like a hammerfist to me). As Schmelling moved along the rope, Baer went to right and left hooks to the head and again came back off one right with a blatant backhand. Schmelling moved off the ropes and away from the corner but his guard was down and Baer continued his assault, this time with his trademark overhand that hit its target. Testament to Schmelling durability he moved to clinch and the referee stepped in to ask if he wanted to continue. So far Schmelling hadn’t answered a single punch since the snap jab. He nodded and moved into Baer with his guard up only to receive more punishment in the form of some initial short shots including a left uppercut that found its mark. These didn’t last long. Baer posted off Schmelling’s left shoulder, positioning for yet another powerful overhand to the jaw. Schmelling hit the canvas like a felled tree, but immediately rose on his side. Schmelling was up at nine, but it was over now and he was visibly helpless as Baer began mauling him with a series of lefts and right short hooks and uppercut. Schmelling moved away towards the ropes with Baer in pursuit. Again more heavy shot rained down on him including a big right hand to the back of the head. At this point the referee stepped in to award the technical knockout to Baer. By modern standards, I think this was all too much and the fight should have been stopped or at least interupted when Schmelling was first driven into the rope and had yet to reply.

Jack Sharky versus Primo Carnera 1933 (World Heavyweight Championship)

The objective of the next fight was to introduce Max Baer’s next opponent: Primo Carnera. Carnera’s presence in boxing is a controversial one as he was clearly mob-controlled and even at the time many people considered him to be a manufactured champion. Standing 6’6″, he was just under Jess Willard’s height and 40lbs heavier. He looked freakish by the standards of the day and was known as the “Ambling Alp”. Carnera had little visible boxing skill. His knockout record – he won more matches by knockout than any other boxer in history – is often marred by the fact that some of his opponents took dives. After the tragedy of Schaaf the New York Boxing Commission ruled that Carnera would not be permitted to face opponents 40lbs heavier than him. However, due to the fact that Sharkey was now the World Heavyweight Champion, having defeated Schmelling in their rematch, this provisio was lifted.

Primo’s win over Sharkey was perhaps his finest moment. Jack Sharkey hotly refuted that he took a dive during this match and Dempsey, Tunney and Baer, who were all at ringside, all confirmed the fight’s validity. Sharkey put his loss down to being rusty and publically requested a rubber match. Carnera’s fixes might be seen in the list of low ranked fighters he defeated on his way to the title shot and the fact that he beat boxers like Tommy Loughran who had clearly outpointed him.  When interviewed the Italian spoke in broken English, often referring to himself in the third person and with a deep voice that put over the image of him being slow-witted. In truth, this was all probably part of the marketing hype that he would take to his professional wrestling career. Carnera was fluent in four languages and despite being dropped by The Mob with no money, he would retire a self-made millionaire after starting a movie career in Italy.  This defeat of Sharkey reveals that Carnera although never a contender for one of the all-time greats, he was under-rated by boxing historians and still deserved to be fighting in the championship ranks of his day.

Jack Sharkey had previous defeated Primo Carnera in a 15 round decision that he had completely dominated leaving Carnera with an almost closed eye and on the verge of a knockout on several occasions. At one point Sharkey had knocked him down for a nine-count. This time was very different. Sharkey, who we saw a couple of lessons back almost beating Dempsey, was still on top form. Like his idol, Dempsey, Sharkey was a pure swarmer and sought to cut down Carnera’s range by regular crowding. In response Carnera demonstrated his strength by peeling him off in the clinch and regularly going for a short uppercut. In round one Sharkey was mainly on the front foot and used to feints to set up his rushes, which frequently ended in a clinch. On one occasion he charged in using flicker jabs before milling in as soon as he had achieved the clinch. In a foreshadowing of the end, Carnera caught him with a stiff uppercut that sent him to ground. Sharkey was saved by the ropes and quickly got back to his feet, but the replay undeniably shows the damage done. After the right uppercut hit its mark, Carnera caught Sharkey’s right arm with his left but this action is negliable. Sharkey was clearly reeling off the punch despite doing his best to hide this fact. Not to be deterred, he immediately took the offensive option and doubled down on his attack. Again, he pressed forward in typical swarming fashion and there was a lot of Dempsey-esque head movement. Sharkey’s jabs, often thrown on a slip, were of a higher quality to Carnera’s and he did well to avoid the giant’s probing shots. However, the right uppercuts – a staple of the great Jack Johnson – were a different matter and clearly Sharkey’s nemesis in the clinch. Again after another crowding assault, Carnera split through Sharkey’s guard and sending his head back. From this point onwards in this round, Carnera began to manhandle his smaller opponent. Ruining Sharkey’s swarming style attacks, he shoves him away and across the ring opting for some outside boxing.  In yet another example of what looked like half a push and half a punch, Carnera missed with a looping right and caught Sharkey with a short left hook sending him stumbling across the ring. Again, Sharkey was on the offensive but Carnera looked altogether too strong and put on the pressure too resulting in a reasonable exchange.

After losing round one, Sharkey really stepped on the gas and stuck with Carnera throughout. The uppercut was absent and Sharkey seemed a lot busier in the clinch as well running things outside. There were a few jab exchanges, but the champion was now dominating and won this round along with round three albeit with a more active Carnera. In simple scoring terms, Sharkey mainly avoided Carnera’s jabs and scored more with this own as well as simply throwing and landing more punches in general. Carnera, being a straight slugger, just kept looking for his big punch. The uppercuts were back but Sharkey was effectively blocking them in the clinch or easily avoiding them outside. Matters started to even up in round four according to contemporary reports, but I do not have access to the footage to verify this. However, if it was anything like the incomplete footage I have seen of round five then I would agree. There was a lot of back and forth. Again, Carnera kept missing his big overhands, right hooks and uppercut from the outside and Sharkey kept pressing in the clinch. However, this time the challenger wasn’t conceding the centre of the ring and battled back forcefully as Sharkey crowded him.

Round six got busy early on with both sides clearly trying to step things up again. There was a brief period where Sharkey backed Carnera into a corner and Carnera rode a big rear hand hook. However, this was the closest Sharkey got things going his way. Carnera came straight back in as Sharkey covered up. This time Carnera straightened his crouched opponent up with the right uppercut and caught him with a hard left hook to the head. Sharkey rebounded hard off the ropes and fell back into his bobbing and weaving to get out of the pocket. However, he clearly in trouble. Carnera closed in, missing with a big right but possibly catching him with a short left uppercut as Sharkey slumped or slipped to the canvas. He jumped back up and, in typical fashion, renewed he aggressive efforts. What followed next appeared to be largely a battle between Sharkey’s head movements and Carnera’s deadly uppercut. Crucially Sharkey was beginning to miss and this was seen when threw a big overhand. Within seconds of missing he was back in the clinch and Carnera’s right uppercut finally did its job, knocking him out for the count. Once again Madison Square Gardens proved its reputation of jinxing defending champions and Primo Carnera became the new World Heavyweight Champion.

Primo Carnera versus Max Baer 1934 (World Heavyweight Championship)

Carnera had two title defences. Both were points decisions. The first was against Paulino Uzcudon who we saw last week in his knockout of the great Harry Wills. This would be the only title fight opportuniScreen Shot 2021-06-06 at 09.47.27ty for the “Basque Woodchopper” who had lost his European belt to Carnera three years previously in a controversial split decision that sparked a riot in the hosting city of Barcelona. This time they fought in Rome and both European and World title belts were up for grabs. Uzcudun lost again in a tight decision but was one of Carnera’s few opponents who did not get knocked down once. The Tommy Loughran fight that followed is generally regarded a fix. Loughran was a very canny and intelligent fighter, but he was a pure out-boxer that lacked knockout power. He and most contemporaries give him the points decision but Carnera probably got it thanks to the crooked influence of his management.

Max Baer was a very different type of opponent for Carnera. One year previously Carnera was cast as himself, a World Heavyweight Champion, fighting Max Baer’s character in “The Prizefighter and the Lady” movie. The staged fight resulted in a draw whetting the public’s appetite for the real thing. If that wasn’t enough then both men had been labelled as killers due to the deaths of Campbel and Schaal.  They colourful individuals who exploited these traits to a public desperate to be distracted from The Great Depression. Max Baer was known for his in-ring clowning and charisma and Carnera for his freakish size. Both were crowd-pleasing knockout merchants. With the World Heavyweight Championship title on the line, the hype for this contest must have been huge.

Strategy-wise, this came down to the battle of the right hands and the definition of a slug fest: Carnera’s short uppercut versus Baer’s overhand right. The spectators did not have to wait long. The first big punch landed in the opening round when Baer floored Carnera with his trademark swiping right. Prior to this there had been a lot of ponderous circling, Carnera pawing away ineffectually and Baer throwing faster punches that did little more than sting. After testing Carnera’s low guard with jab to the head and a right to the body he dropped his bomb with little ceremony. Carnera was up but unsteady and Baer then charged back in with a hard series of lefts and rights that knocked him into the ropes. The referee jumped in but let it continue as Carnera was back up only to be punched into another set up ropes and then another one as Baer pursued him around the ring. We were almost back into Dempsey versus Willard territory with three knockdowns in a row before the referee successfully came between the two fighters. However, there was no count and Carnera was straight back into receiving more punishment. Carnera survived the first round by righting himself and standing his ground as Baer tried to keep the pressure up. The method Carnera used wasn’t a million miles away from the Thai long guard. He used stiff arm/posts with his left and right to stall Baer’s onslaught after the third (fourth overall) knockdown. The replay showed that Baer was swinging with his left as well as his right to Carnera’s jaw and around his ears in his hot pursuit around the ring.

Round two saw Baer take a jab to the chin without breaking an expression before answering by backing Carnera into the ropes and hitting him with his signaure right overhand. It’s thrown almost with contempt, much as Muhammad Ali did against George Foreman with his “lead hand right” four decades later. However, whereas Ali had done this early on to goad Foreman, Baer followed it up with a hard left haymaker then a right and then another left. The last left hooked around Carnera’s neck and Baer attempts to grapple Carnera whilst throwing rights with his free hand. Carnera’s response to go into something that almost resembled a drop down seionagi – although it was probably more a case of the two losing their balance in the tangle – and they both rolled on the floor. They both then scrambled back to their feet and Baer continued his onslaught of swipes and haymakers, resulting in another messy clinch. Carnera caught Baer in a headlock and tumbled to the ground with Baer on top. The referre stood them up and again Baer kept going. Carnera attempted his posting, but the challenger would not let up ending up on top of him again as they both tripped over. None of these three falls really should be counted as knockdowns. The referee certainly didn’t seem to have a mind to separate the two fighters and count. They appear to be clinches that overbalanced due to Baer’s forward pressure and Carnera’s tremendous size. The next time they both rose, Baer again was on the complete offensive attacking with shots that drove Carnera off. However, he decided not to pursue and appeared to take something of a breather in the middle of the ring wating for Carnera to come after him. Carnera’s response seemed ponderous with both hands and Baer just kept smiling. He seemed to take the pressure off, scoring with the odd jab and a cross from the outside before moving out of range for some clowning. The round ended with a few short exchanges all with Baer on top.

Advised to throw more punches, Carnera came out of the next round with bad intentions and Baer came out displaying some defensive circular footwork (maybe Loughran’s influence). It’s quite interesting to see Baer fighting from the outside using his jab effectively. Carnera did his best to bat away with his rear hand and attempt and offensive, but Baer’s confidence from the previous two rounds was very evident. He continued to smile and happily square up to his opponent. At last, we started to see the return of Carnera’s dangerous uppercut as he initiated some clinching. Demonstrating good ring IQ, Baer nullified this punches by pushing his hips into his opponent. After a series of brief skirmishes with Baer beginning to press the offensive again, Carnera went down in an obvious slip and the referee stepped in. Carnera was back up and held his ground in a round that was clearly much better for him than the previous two. Round seven saw the champion renew his efforts with even more vigor as he pressed forward having clearly been pushed more by his corner to increase pressure even more so. Early on in the round we saw him throw singular lefts and rights taking advantage of his tremendous range over the challenger. He even caught Baer with a short backhand, which was hypocritically complained about to the referee by Baer (you will recall Baer’s shameless use of the same foul at least twice against Schmelling a year previously). Carnera immediately apologised to both the referee, who gave him a warning, and Baer who shook his hand. The champion then immediately resumed his offensive approach and dominated the centre of the ring with far more telling punches. Besides a failed attempt at his big overhand swipe, Baer showed relatively little action in this round and I would have given it to Carnera.

Round eight saw the bigger man continue to press forward, but his opponent was now beginning to become more active. This time Baer’s quicker hands came back into play as he circled the stalking champion. Although considered to be an unscientific slugger of the purest kind, Baer demonstrated some solid combination flourishes in addition to scoring with a few power jabs. Baer’s combinations typically involved going to the body with hooks and then attacking the highline. His hallmark overhand proved only to be a glancing blow during one of these exchanges and Carnera again immediately retaliated with a left forearm to the head and missed with a right hook. Carnera, who is objectively an even cruder slugger, showed us far more boxing skills than the likes of other big one punch merchants like Luis Firpo. As the round progressed Baer kept trying to drive Carnera back resulting in heavy exchanges and the now status quo remained with the champion holding the centre and the challenger circling and picking shots, possibly edging the round very slightly in his favour. We saw some of Baer’s cross-guard again when he was on the receiving end of one of Carnera’s heavy handed attacks. Another attack ended in Carnera overbalancing again and hitting the canvas.

Round nine saw Baer increase the aggression from the previous round and command more of the centre of the ring than in rounds seven and eight. The pair began fighting more toe-to-toe, which is testament to Baer’s courage when one considers he was giving way a lot of 53 lbs to  Carnera. Carnera was not going to give ground easily, however, and he not only continued to meet the attack with aggressive outside boxing exchanges but the lethal close range uppercut was back in play although the challenger was wise to them and took them on his cross-guard. Baer alternated from slipping Carnera’s jabs to taking three in succession giving him the round.

Round 10 had Baer improve his performance from the previous round by starting it decisively taking the centre ring and driving a battling Carnera back to the corner. In typical Baer fashion, he waded in with haymakers but Carnera fought back hard eventually reversing him into the corner in a fashion reminiscent of the way Baer had manoeuvred Schmelling. Unlike Baer’s earlier meeting with former world champion, Carnera did not back this reversal up with his own counter-attacker. Instead he just clinched and the pair had to be parted by the referee. However, the dynamic had somewhat shifted and Carnera took back the centre of the ring. We were back to Baer again adopting the unfamiliar tactics of the out-boxer that Tommy Loughran would have taught him.  This albeit limited skill area was essential when facing an all-round larger fellow slugger. It was an extra tool used by Baer to provide him with an opportunity to land his murderous right hand. Carnera’s jab provided a tantalising opportunity. The big man over-reached with his jab and dropped his right when doing so. Watching the film back, I noticed that most of Carnera’s parries from his right came from when he was holding a longer guard. He didn’t catch them much from close range. Baer’s moment arrived but it wasn’t a straight right through the obvious opening. The relative calm of the two fighters circling and checking each other’s jabs was suddenly broken when Baer’s signature punched arced over Carnera’s shoulder with no ceremony. It clipped the champion’s jaw the first time. Seeing that the same area had been left unguarded Baer followed it up with a far more serious version of the same punch which caught Carnera around the ear in similar fashion to the way Tyson Fury would begin his destruction of Deontay Wilder 86 years later. Like Wilder, the 1934 world champion was immediately in trouble and stumbled around the ring reeling from the punch. Carnera turned his back on Baer and grabbed hold of the ropes to stop his fall. The challenger, once again in hot pursuit to finish the job, was stopped by the referee who immediately asked the champion if he was okay to continue. Carnera said he could and moved back into Baer with a stiff arm jab. However, Baer was back in the zone and landed another huge overhand right that sent the big man down. Carnera attempted some of his clinching wrestling tactics but Baer seemed wise to them and swiftly stepped away to let his opponent cleanly fall. Yet again Carnera was back up without a count, but he was stumbling around with no guard like a latter day Jess Willard against Jack Dempsey. Baer’s outside boxing was gone now. He was back to doing what he did best and came in swinging his right arm wrecking ball at the champion’s head. It kept landing and Carnera hit the canvas. Yet again there was no count and the champion walked back into those signature Baer swipes. The first one landed as did the second and even the clinch was not saving him. The referee stepped in and Carnera was saved by the bell.

Round 11 would be Carnera’s final round. He came out bravely and aggressively, moving to a clinch in an attempt to nail Baer with his notorious uppercut. Eventually the naturally broke and Baer led the fight around to his right before circling back and landing his own infamous right-hander. This was a clean swing that sat Carnera down by the ropes. Rather than take counts, the big man hoisted his bulk up and seems to plod towards his executioner having been knocked down more times in the recorded history of professional gloved era boxing. In modern times this fight would have ended. Even by the standard of the day, I don’t think it should have got to this round. However, it is moments like this that we see the heart of people like Carnera. Baer suddenly appears to recharge. He is a complex individual – often switching between clown and beast – and many have read into the psychological impact Campbell’s death had on his in-ring performance. So far, it would be difficult to see the caring and emotionally damaged man who regularly repented for killing another fighter by the way he ruthlessly disposed of Schmelling and the way he tore into Carnera up to this point. Yet there are many who argue he could have been even greater if he had not been burdened by this guilt. At this moment, one has to question whether he needed to recharge a bit and whether he had been doing that in rounds three to nine or if he showing a degree of mercy to his opponent. With so many knockdowns close together during these latter rounds, it seems odd that he momentarily began to circle from the outside and again looking to pick his opening. Carnera certainly seemed to do his best to take advantage of the opportunity. This would not last very long. The two began to clash in the middle of the ring and Baer knew it was time to start swinging again. One shot connected and then a wider overhand right clipped Carnera on the temple for yet another knockdown. The first one of the two probably did the damage and the second one just sent him on the way. Likewise, most of the latter match damage had likely been caused by the ear swipe Baer administered in round 10. Incredibly yet another rise without a count by Carnera but by this time the referee could read the pattern. Watching the dazed giant stagger forward and offer only the faintest defence against another right hand he pushed himself between them to stop the slaughter.

Following the fight Primo Carnera would spend month in hospital, sustaining a broken jaw, broken ribs and a broken bone in his arm. Having lost the title, Owney “The Killer” Madden, who ran the infamous New York Cotton Club, and his mob immediately dropped him. Carnera was left destitute. Baer, seriously concerned about his opponent’s welfare, immediately came to his aid and paid for his entire stay. Carnera fought 18 more times, winning 11 of them. Like Baer, Braddock, Schmelling and Sharkey, Carnera would be another scalp taken by the rising star that was Joe Louis.  After their meeting, Carnera would name Max Baer as his best friend and would even scale the fence of his burial ground to pray by his grave. Baer would now defend his title against James Braddock who was a co-star in last week’s discussion on Tommy Loughran Next week it will be Braddock’s turn.


vagabond warriors 13th June


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