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A great vid of a great fighter...
Loved his quote. "What's the sense in being Irish if you can't be thick."
If he hadn't been so "Irish" I think he would have become the heavyweight champion.
Yep, if he wouldn't have gotten ballsy against Louis and tried for the KO, he may have gone on to win that first fight and become the first light heavyweight to win the heavyweight title. BUT NO, he had to go for the KO and got taken out for his effort.
Their rematch went much worse for him, getting stopped earlier.
Brilliant fighter with a sexy style, shame there isnt more footage
His run up to the famous Joe Louis fight, Dec 1936 - Dec 1939
W - Fritzie Zivic (Future WW Champion, HoFer)
W - Babe Risko (Former MW Champion)
W - Vince Dundee (Former MW Champion)
W - Oscar Rankins (MW Contender)
W - Teddy Yarosz (Former MW Champion, HoFer)
L - Young Corbett III (Former WW Champion, Current MW Contender, HoFer)
W - Teddy Yarosz
W - Young Corbett III
L - Solly Kreiger (Future NBA MW Champion (Not Lineal iirc))
W - Eric Seelig (MW Contender)
L - Teddy Yarosz
W - Solly Kreiger (Current NBA Champion)
W - Fred Apostoli (Current NYSAC MW Champ (Lineal), non title bout held above MW limit, HoFer)
W - Fred Apostoli (as above)
W - Solly Kreiger
W - Melio Bettina (LHW Contender, vacant NYSAC/NBA LHW Belts (new lineage))
W - Gus Dorazio (LHW Contender)
W - Melio Bettina
W - Gus Lesnovic (Future LHW Champion)
The irony of Conn trying to KO Louis in their first fight in the 13th round after rocking Louis in round 12 is the fact Conn really wasn't a KO artist. In his 64 wins, he only had 15 KO's to his credit, for a 20% KO rate.
To think he tried this against one of the best heavyweights to ever lace up the gloves and who only lost 3 times in 69 pro fights, 2 by KO is a bit crazy. Louis's KO loss to Schmeling in their first fight in 1936 was avenged with a 1st. round KO of Schmeling in 1938 and the only other time Louis lost by KO was his last fight in 1951, 13 years later, against Rocky Marciano when he was well past his prime.
I too wish there was more film of this great fighter for us to see.
Which seems pretty crazy really because in the Louis fight he looked like a pretty solid puncher. There was a point when he was going for the finish, and he had Louis with his back to the ropes, Conn just sat down on a left hook to the body and you could see the ripple right through Louis torso. Considering the weight disparity it was pretty impressive. Lovely technique on the shot as well.
He also knocked out Bob Pastor, after dropping him 2 times for 7 and 9 counts (according to Brec), who himself was only stopped one other time in 65 fights by Joe Louis.
Good indication of a man who punched harder than his KO % suggests imo. Going off some of the fights I have seen, you often needed to beat a man half to death to get the referee to jump in in those days, so if you didnt have the power to put someone out for the 10 count, it must have been extremely tough to get stoppages.
I've seen film of that fight and you're right. When I looked up Conn's record on BoxRec, I was surprised at the lack of KO's considering how he ripped some very solid shots and actually hurt the much heavier Louis in their first fight. Then consider that Louis was use to being hit by bigger men with harder punches and was only stopped twice in his great career and that puts Conn's power into some perspective.
All I can say is there must have been some granite jawed light heavy's back in the day.
Great post,..thank you!
I watched an old program on tv back in the early 70's with my then brother in law...it had Curt Gowdy (I think) with both Conn and Joe Louis reviewing Louis-Conn l and though we all know that Louis won by ko, we were both as much as if not more impressed with Conn's performance. I went away thinking "who in the hell would Billy Conn have to worry about in the lightheavy class...in all of history, if he fought them with the same spirit that he fought Louis? Really, they can rank Conn wherever they want to in the great scheme of things in lightheavyweight history, but 1 on 1, who would have been able to contain him on the form he showed vs the Brown Bomber in that fight?
Just amazing how he was confidently slapping Louis around the way he did...all Billy lacked was a singularly big punch, otherwise he would have scored a spectacular upset that night in 1941. Conn was a brilliant fighter...he had everything but a punch.
I sure as hell wish that there was more footage of Conn.