Schmeling had won the first first fight. Known in years past as "Sin City" and "Babylon on the St. Lawrence", it saw more than its share of ring legends over the decades. . Thus Max Schmeling, who had suffered a terrible beating at the hands of Baer three years before, was regarded as just another stepping stone for Louis, whose strength and power had captured the public’s imagination and whose ascension to the heavyweight throne was a question of when, not if. To his credit, the young contender got to his feet immediately and fought back, but his bravery sealed his fate. A year later, Louis, after reeling off seven straight wins, including a third round KO of former champion and Schmeling conqueror Jack Sharkey, knocked out Jim Braddock to become the heavyweight king and begin the longest championship reign in boxing history. “I want Schmeling,” said Joe after his title-winning effort. The punch stunned the inexperienced Louis who could not help betraying the fact, a shocked expression crossing his face as his legs buckled. A frustrated and desperate Louis resorted to rough-house tactics, throwing shots below the belt and elbows and forearms above it. It was broadcast by radio to millions of listeners throughout the world, with radio announcers reporting on the fight in English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. And as significant as it is, it should not eclipse the achievement of Max Schmeling in their first meeting, as he scored one of the biggest upsets of all time and clearly demonstrated that skill, timing and smart tactics can defeat even the most pulverizing of punchers. “Boxing is the sport to which all other sports aspire.” It was now mere target practice for the ex-champion as he chased “The Brown Bomber” about the ring and landed 14 unanswered blows, the final one a flush right that put a stunned and defenseless Louis on his knees before he tumbled to the canvas. Joe did connect with some of his heavy artillery, especially jabs and left hooks to the body, but Schmeling’s footwork and feints prevented the young power-puncher from sustaining an effective attack. . Further, what the “Black Uhlan of the Rhine” saw was the novice’s tendency to drop his left hand; Louis was consistently open to the counter right and Schmeling happened to be the owner of a more-than-serviceable right cross. Louis attempted to counterattack, but the German smothered the assault before throwing a series of left hands, one of which he left dangling briefly in Louis’ face to blind Joe to what was coming next: yet another vicious right hand, followed this time by an equally vicious one-two and another right that had Louis staggering into the ropes. Now just imagine for a moment if, right before “Kid Dynamite” had blasted Trevor Berbick into next week or demolished Michael Spinks in a mere 91 seconds, a veteran heavyweight who everyone thought long finished, say a Ken Norton or a Mike Weaver, had managed to not just defeat Tyson, but humble him, handing him a one-sided drubbing that called into question his status as the next great heavyweight. Schmeling followed up with a flurry of shots punctuated by a perfect right cross that dumped Louis on his backside. “Louis beat me so hard, I saw seven of him,” said Baer afterwards. “I tried hitting the one in the middle but the other six just kept beating the hell out of me.”, None other than Ernest Hemingway took in the Baer demolition and perhaps best summed up the public perception of Louis at the time: “Too good to be true, and absolutely true . If you can picture that happening and contemplate the shock-waves which would have emanated from such an upset, then you have some idea of how huge a happening the first Louis vs Schmeling bout was, when the wily veteran dismantled the young, undefeated contender, battering him about the ring for eleven one-sided rounds before finally scoring a clean knockout in the twelfth. A close observer might have noticed that the German was keeping his right hand cocked with his weight constantly on the back foot, the better to throw a spring-loaded counter, but no one as of yet was aware of Schmeling’s strategy. Lee Ramage, King Levinsky, Primo Carnera and Max Baer were all reduced to so much rice pudding within a few short rounds, such was “The Brown Bomber’s” punching prowess and awesome accuracy. It is a city of fights and fighters, of hockey and heroes, of broken dreams and immortal glory, a city unlike any other. The opening rounds of the bout were tightly contested as a patient Schmeling allowed Louis to come forward while keeping the younger man honest with frequent feints and light jabs. He gave himself no time to recover from Schmeling’s assault or to adjust to his opponent’s tactics. He was hopelessly behind on points and taking a beating, yet he never stopped trying. By aggressively pursuing Schmeling, he played right into Max’s hands and absorbed still more flush rights before the round was over. Which one comes to mind? Montreal is The Fight City. the most beautiful fighting machine that I have ever seen.”. \r\rLouis battered Schmeling with a series of swift attacks, forcing Schmeling against the ropes and giving him a paralyzing body blow. “I ain’t no champion ’till I beat Schmeling.”. Schmeling had won the first first fight. “I see something,” was Max’s famous reply when asked by reporters how he had the temerity to appear so irritatingly sure of himself prior to his scheduled public execution in Yankee Stadium. By the ninth Max was landing virtually at will, now connecting with lead rights as well as counter shots, even winning exchanges on the inside with his uppercut, and yet Joe was unwilling, or unable, to adjust, to bring his left hand up and anticipate Schmeling’s attack. Instead Louis absorbed blow after blow and had increasing difficulty making it back to his corner at the end of each round. To be sure, Joe had his moments, at times his attack putting Max on the defensive, but it was Schmeling dictating the terms and getting home the truly telling blows. Joe shook his head and tried briefly to rise before turning on his face as the referee finished the count and Schmeling exulted. An incredible mob of almost ninety thousand came to see if young Louis had the goods and no one left disappointed as Joe wrecked Max inside of four rounds, handing the former champion the first knockdowns of his career. Great sportsmanship. Or how about a 19-year-old Mike Tyson, already on the cover of Sports Illustrated, flattening one hapless opponent after another as he blazed a path of non-stop destruction towards championship glory? More and more, Joe looked to be not so much stalking his opponent as haplessly following him about the ring. Sugar Ray Leonard charming the American public while charting a course to success in the late 70s? A minute into the round, and with Louis bearing down hard, Schmeling once again moved away to establish the desired distance. — Michael Carbert. Schmeling was a solid 10-to-1 underdog, and yet for all that he appeared curiously confident in the days leading up to the match. Good article. On June 22nd, 1938, Joe Louis and Max Schmeling met for the second time in the boxing ring. On the third knockdown, Schmeling's trainer threw in the towel and referee Arthur Donovan stopped the fight. A young Floyd Mayweather Jr., notching win after win to fulfill his family pedigree? The round began with the two men battling on the inside and eventually Schmeling got home a stinging uppercut. In the second Max tried his first right over the jab but Louis took the blow well. Fresh-faced Olympic gold medalist Oscar DeLaHoya as he cruised through the super-featherweight and lightweight divisions on his way to demolishing a grizzled Julio Cesar Chavez? Think back, if you will boxing fans, and recollect those breathless days of yesteryear, when the young, can’t-miss prospect, the next great star of the ring, thrilled you as he bounded over the obstacles to fistic success like so many playthings in a child’s sandbox, talented contenders as threatening to this boxing immortal-to-be as a moth to a mountain lion. Finally, in the twelfth, he succumbed. The Baer win had been the most scintillating, as the former champion had been regarded as still a major force in the division. On June 22nd, 1938, Joe Louis and Max Schmeling met for the second time in the boxing ring. The rematch, held the following year and again in New York’s Yankee Stadium, was destined to be one of the most significant contests not just in boxing, but in sports history. The fight was held in Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 70,043. As he did, Louis followed and reached out with a slow, pawing jab, more a range-finder than a proper lead, and Schmeling instantly pounced with a vicious counter right. But that’s another story. Prior to this fateful match, Joe Louis had enjoyed the stature of champion-in-waiting, which was no small development given that Louis was black and just two decades removed from the only other “colored” heavyweight champion up to that point, Jack Johnson. A metropolis where hundreds of young warriors train and battle each day in its many gyms, it is where Archie Moore, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Bernard Hopkins all found greatness. But there was no questioning that some unfinished business remained. The rest, as they say, was mere aftermath. At the end of the fifth Schmeling landed another thunderous right that had Louis all but out on his feet and in the sixth the German took over, manhandling and battering “The Brown Bomber” in a manner that had the assembled crowd staring in slack-jawed disbelief. Still, to the thousands of spectators anticipating another Louis knockout, it must have seemed like only a matter of time before Joe’s constant pressure broke Schmeling down. But boxing is at least as much about skill and tactics, intelligence and craft, as it is about physical strength and brute force, and what everyone had overlooked was that Schmeling, a veteran of 59 pro battles, possessed a mastery of timing and counter-punching the likes of which the young Louis had yet to face.
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