Boxing Simulation All-Time Heavyweight Champion Part 4 Semifinals

About a computer simulation ran in 1967 to determine the all-time heavyweight championship boxer of the world, the semifinal rounds.

The All-Time Heavyweight Championship of the World


Dempsey v. Louis

Marciano v. Jeffries

In the "Dream Match" of the mythical tournament, Jack Dempsey weighed in at 191 and Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, at 200. Both fighters had come up from hard times: Dempsey as a brawling, street-fighting kid who rode the rods looking for matches, and Louis as the 7th child of pickers in the cotton fields of Alabama. At 23, Joe became the youngest man ever to win the crown and defended his title successfully 25 times.

Dempsey had announced his retirement after failing in his attempt to regain the title from Tunney in 1927. The Colorado slugger stalked his opponent like a tiger, with dark-jowled scowls and leaping, slashing attacks. Tunney had beaten him with strong legs and superior boxing skill. But in Louis, Dempsey faced a paralyzing puncher whose killer instinct matched his own. Louis could be hit, however. That had been proved even by such minor lights as Two-Ton Tony Galento, the garrulous barrel, who brought out a winging left hook that stunned Joe in the 1st round of their title fight and dropped him with another in the 3rd. Buddy Baer had knocked Louis out of the ring and even Tami Mauriello had bounced him off the ropes with a right to the chin. Both of these surprises caught Joe in round one and he went on to wipe the canvas with his unfortunate attacker. Perhaps it was the data that Dempsey was a master at following up when he had an opponent hurt that swung the computer in Jack's favor.

In a bloody, free-swinging affair, Dempsey was down twice but had Louis on the canvas 4 times to win a unanimous decision. The NCR-315 gave Jack 9 rounds, Joe 4, and called 2 even. Dempsey carried the fight to Louis in the early going and weathered a late rally by the Bomber.

When Rocky Marciano TKO'd Jim Jeffries in the 14th round of their semifinal, the climactic program was plugged in. It would be Dempsey v. Marciano and forget about boxing skill. This was a meeting of 2 sluggers, 2 drivers, 2 steel-knuckled killers who moved in only one direction in a ring: straight ahead. And they seemed evenly matched.

But Rocco Francis Marchegiano must have had at least one small edge in the blinking eye of the computer: He had never lost a professional fight. Beginning in 1947, Rocky fought 49 times and won every bout, 43 by knockouts. Eleven of those knockouts came in the 1st round. He had cooled the great Joe Louis in the 8th round of their match in 1951 and had KO'd Jersey Joe Walcott in the 13th to take the title in 1952. He defended the crown 6 times and retired from boxing undefeated. Dempsey had lost twice to Tunney and had been knocked out of the ring by Luis Angel Firpo in one of the bloodiest battles in ring history. But Firpo did not know how to take advantage of Dempsey's momentary blur and was floored 9 times in the 1st 2 rounds before Jack's right hand finally took him out.

That was the match-up as Woroner and LeBow rolled the tape in the small Miami recording studio. Woroner, doing color and interviews, stated that the winner would receive a gold and diamond championship belt, valued at $10,000. LeBow characterized the final conflict as the meeting of an undefeated fighter with an indomitable will to win against a steel-jawed slasher of animal cunning and ferocity. Referee Ruby Goldstein was announced, the fighters were introduced, and the bell rang for Round 1.

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