When heavyweight contender Rocky Marciano first fought reigning world heavyweight champion "Jersey Joe" Walcott, it was nothing short of an epic brawl. The scheduled 15-rounder, held at Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia on Sept. 23, 1952, made it to the 13th round with Walcott ahead on all three official judges' scorecards. The 38-year-old champ had even floored the undefeated Marciano early in the first round, which represented the first time in his 42-fight pro career that the 29-year-old "Brockton Blockbuster" had been knocked down. But in the fateful 13th round, Walcott backed up to the ropes when Marciano landed a pulverizing right to his jaw which put him down for the count. The newly crowned heavyweight champ managed to kept his unbeaten streak intact, while Walcott fell to 51-16-2.
Their first bout was hailed by The Ring Magazine as "Fight of the Year." The 13th round was named "Round of the Year" by The Ring. This all set the stage for what was believed to be another legendary battle when the two brawlers stepped back into the ring for Marciano-Walcott II. But fate had something else in mind for their second meeting fight, an outcome neither fighter saw coming.
On May 15, 1953, Marciano and Walcott squared off again, this time at Chicago Stadium. The boisterous crowd was 13,266 strong and the fight was televised live on NBC. The 185-pound Marciano, a 16-to-5 betting favorite, was looking to improve to 43-0 with his first title defense, while Walcott, weighing in at 198, sought to even the record and win his crown back. The first round began with both fighters locking up periodically only to be separated by referee Frank Sikora. With less than a minute to go in Round 1, Walcott threw a jab and Marciano countered with a quick left hook and right uppercut combo that sent Walcott sprawling on his back, his feet actually flying high above him. The challenger pulled himself up to a sitting position with his right hand on the ropes and appeared ready to get up. But inexplicably he stayed seated as Sikora counted him out. Once the referee reached 10, Walcott hoisted himself to his feet but the fight was over. Though he complained that he had received a fast count, Walcott's night was done. It was the last time Walcott ever fought.
Offered here are the Benlee red leather boxing gloves that Marciano wore on that short, memorable night in the Windy City. The aged, eight-ounce gloves are certainly fight-worn but remain in remarkably good condition. Both gloves sport the faded "BENLEE Sporting Goods" manufacturer's tag on the back of either wrist, although the original laces have been replaced by just thin strings. Both gloves are machine-stamped in silver with "707-8" right above the BENLEE wrist labels. What's more, Marciano signed the back of both gloves in black ink and despite their age, the signatures remain strong and legible. The provenance behind the gloves is impeccable as Charles O. Finley Jr., the son of former Oakland A's owner Charles O. Finley Sr., received the pair of gloves directly from Marciano at Chicago Stadium just hours after the fight. A pair of black-and-white publicity photographs showing Marciano in a suit posing with the then-nine-year-old Finley Jr. and signing the gloves is included with the lot.
Marciano finished his career with a perfect 49-0 record that included 43 knockouts and successfully defended his title six different times between 1953 and 1955. He announced his retirement on April 27, 1956, at the age of 32. On August 31, 1969, while traveling aboard a private Cessna plane from Chicago to Des Moines, Iowa, Marciano was killed when the pilot tried to set the plane down in bad weather, but hit a tree two miles short of the runway. He was 45 years old.
Includes signed LOA from Charles O. Finley Jr.