When 1956 rolled around Floyd Patterson was shaping up to be a real threat to the World Heavyweight Title. In 28 bouts he had only lost once and that was in an eight-round unanimous decision. Now Patterson would fight outside of New York more often as he began stalking the now vacant World Heavyweight Championship.
Chasing The World Title
Two bouts in the spring would be early wins in the second and third of ten round action. His match against Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson was a close one that went the full twelve and ended in a split decision. His next match would be against Archie Moore for Rocky Marciano’s vacant World Heavyweight Title.
Archie Moore was a powerful, southern bred veteran who came up in the ranks through the southern and midwest circuit. He would claim the World Heavyweight title in 1952 beating Patterson’s sole loss up to this point, Joey Maxim. Moore would lose the belt in 1955 to Marciano and had been chasing it through the ranks since.
The bout between the two took place on November 30, 1956 and went five of the 15 championship rounds. In the end, spectators in New York City’s Polo Grounds were witness to Floyd Patterson being crowned the youngest World Heavyweight champion at 21.
The distinction between Patterson’s victory and Mike Tyson’s is that Tyson was crowned the youngest Undisputed World Heavyweight champion. Patterson only claimed the Ring and lineal World Heavyweight titles.
Run As World Champion
Floyd Patterson’s reign as champion saw his schedule become reduced. No longer chasing the title, he had to stay in fighting shape to defend it. This meant fewer dates during the following years. Now facing heavyweight title caliber challengers, his defenses were closer than they had been.
His first fight as champion was against Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson in late July 1957. As expected it was a rough one with Patterson holding on to the belt in 10 rounds. The following month he would follow up with a KO victory against Pete Rademacher. His next two defenses were against hungry opponents as well and ended in later round victories.
Patterson’s run as champion came to an end on June 26, 1959 as he faced Sweden’s Ingemar Johansson. The Swedish pugilist was heavyweight silver medalist at the 1952 Olympic Games and his right hand was known as “Thor’s Hammer” by the press and personally as “Thunder and Lightning.”
Patterson would feel that lightning after three rounds having been knocked down several times. Johansson would become the fifth foreign born champion to win the World Heavyweight title and receive a number of accolades. This wouldn’t spell the end for Floyd Patterson and would be the first in a trilogy of bouts between the two.
-Vacant World Heavyweight Title: vs. Archie Moore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCUkqyfUjTU
-World Heavyweight Title: vs. Ingemar Johansson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsVajIK_UUc