Fighting out of Brooklyn, NY, Floyd Patterson (55-8-1, 40KO) was a 2X Heavyweight Champion who reigned supreme in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s. Patterson is often referred to as the bridge between Rocky Marciano & Sonny Liston, sometimes being forgotten in the pantheon of great boxers of the era. Patterson had an interesting style… with a crouched attack & relying on his supreme handspeed, getting in the kitchen of his opponent where he was great at pinpointing spots to throw his left hook and effective over-hand right. While on the smaller side as a Heavyweight, he made up for it with sheer aggression and big time punching power, most notably behind his left hook that came out a little wide, with violent intentions behind it. In Floyd’s case, though he had Cus’s ‘Peek-a-Boo’ stance, his offense was his best defense, and he made sure to stay on you so that he made it tough for you to get your own offense off & get to him…
Floyd Patterson found himself in difficult circumstances as a youth, and got himself into trouble repeatedly. At the age of 14, he met legendary Head-Trainer Cus D’Amato, where he trained Patterson at Gramercy Gym in Manhattan, effectively keeping him out of trouble. With an accelerated rate of training, Patterson won a couple of Golden Gloves tournaments and propelled himself to winning a Gold-Medal in the 1952 Olympics at just the age of 17, campaigning at the Middleweight division. Turning pro soon after, Patterson entered the Heavyweight division, taking on bouts while physically maturing while on the job. Winning all his fights in his first 2 years, he would face legend Joey Maxim in 1954, where Maxim was given the victory in the 8 round contest, however many Newspapers and those at ringside felt different about what took place, favoring Patterson. Nonetheless, it was a quality experience for Patterson, gaining the confidence of knowing that he could compete on that level.
In 1955 he defeated Yvon Durrelle and won a title-eliminator against Tommy Jackson in 1956 via Split-Decision to gain rights to fighting for the vacant Heavyweight World Championship. He would face off against All-Time-Great veteran legend Archie Moore for that vacancy. Moore at this point of his career hovered around the age of 40, and a weight class heavier from where he made his true mark on the sport, but he was still a quality fighter at this point. While Moore was trying to become the oldest to win the Heavyweight Crown at the age of 39, Patterson was also on pursuit of becoming the YOUNGEST to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World at just 21 years of age, and he succeeded by getting the upper hand early on the ‘Mongoose’, and knocking him out in the 5th round, putting Archie down twice, with Moore not being able to beat what appeared to be a quick 10-count.
For Floyd’s 1st title defense, he would give a rematch to Tommy Jackson whom he fought prior to winning the Title, and this time stopped him inside the 15 round difference for a clear decisive result. In 1957, an interesting match-up of 2 Olympic Gold-Medalists took place, with Patterson being challenged by 1956 Gold-Medalist Pete Rademacher who made the immediate jump to the pros to go for it all in facing the Heavyweight Champion of the World. While Rademacher had some pockets of success, and put Patterson down in the 2nd round, Patterson made a spectacle of him, putting him down a half dozen times, and eventually got him out of there in the 6th round.
Securing a couple more Title defenses, Patterson ran into #1 World contender Ingemar Johansson of Sweden. In the 3rd round, all hell broke loose, with Johansson putting Patterson down with a right hand, and putting him down 6 more times, a total of 7 knockdowns within the round, to where Patterson never got to the bell, thus Ingemar securing the knockout and taking Pattersons Heavyweight Title away from him. An immediate re-match between the two was scheduled a year later, and it was credited as 1960’s Fight of the Year by Ring-Magazine. Patterson got his revenge and his World Title back after landing a devastating left hook to knock Ingemar Johansson out in the 5th round.
With both fighters establishing a snapshot rivalry, with both having a knockout win over the other, they fought their rubber match next 9 months removed from their second bout. The first round was a barn-burner with back and forth action indicative of the actions of the first two fights combined. Patterson was knocked down twice in the first round, then returned the gesture by putting Ingemar Johansson down later in the round. Though the fight wasn’t as exciting as the previous, the groundwork was laid for a big finish, and Patterson closed the show with a bang, landing a big combination in the 6th stanza, to where Ingemar couldn’t make the 10 count, once again knocked out in consecutive outings, and losing the trilogy to Patterson. With this accomplishment, Floyd became the 1st Heavyweight in history to regain the Heavyweight Crown back after losing it.
Fast forward a couple years, still reigning as Heavyweight Champion, Patterson went on to fight intimidating, dangerous feared contender Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston who was the odds on favorite to win the fight, despite Patterson having possession of the hardware. In the first round, Liston lit a bomb and it detonated on the face of Patterson, in the form of 2 monster left hooks and a short right hand; Sonny had proved the bettors right, becoming the new Heavyweight Champion in the World in 1962, needing only less than a rounds length of time to do so.
They met for a rematch in 1963, and the only difference from the first fight was that the second was even more devastating than the first, as Sonny sent Patterson crashing like an airplane to the canvas 3 times in the 1st round, for another frightening knockout to serve as Liston’s first defense, and putting Patterson’s career trajectory in a different direction.
With hopes of regaining his title an unprecedented 3rd time, he got by the likes of George Chuvalo to get himself back to an opportunity to win the Crown back. By this time, the Heavyweight division’s landscape COMPLETELY shifted after Sonny Liston was outclassed & quit on his stool against Muhammad Ali, and this version of Ali was as gifted a fleet footed boxer that was ever seen at the time. Patterson did what he could and gave his all in the fight, but at this point, and in any point of time realistically, Ali was simply a cut above Patterson’s pedigree as a boxer. Ali dominated Patterson to a 12th round TKO stoppage. Patterson had a couple tough fights with Jerry Quarry before facing Jimmy Ellis for the WBA Heavyweight Title, but was outpointed by Ellis. Patterson’s final chance at capturing another Title came in a re-match against Muhammad Ali, which ultimately was his final fight in 1972, retiring on his stool after Ali opened up cuts over both of Floyd’s eyes. A great career came to an end, one that helped successfully transition boxing into the next generation for others to follow. Patterson’s family legacy continued to live on, as his adopted son Tracy Harris Patterson became a World Champion himself in 1992, becoming a 2X Champion like his ol’ man under Floyd’s tutelage. As for Floyd and his career, here are a list of his accomplishments.
– 1952 Olympic Gold-Medalist (Middleweight)
– 2X Undisputed Heavyweight Champ (1956-1959, 1960-1962)
– Won 8 Lineal Heavyweight World Title Bouts
– Became the Youngest Heavyweight Champion All-Time (21)
– First Heavyweight to Become a 2X Heavyeight Champion
– 3 Wins over 2 Hall-of-Fame Boxers During His Run
– Defeated 3 Undefeated Fighters in his Career
– 1956 Ring-Magazine Fighter of the Year
– 1960 Ring-Magazine Fighter of the Year
– 1960 Ring-Mag Fight of the Year (Patterson/Johansson II)
– 1965 Ring-Mag Fight of the Year (Patterson/Chuvalo)
– International Boxing Hall-of-Fame (Inducted in 1991)
SIGNATURE MOMENT – His statement win in reversing his fortune, knocking out Ingemar Johansson to regain back the Heavyweight Crown, Becoming the First Heavyweight to Become World Champion for a Second Time After Losing it.
NOTABLE WINS – 🇺🇸Archie Moore, 🥈🇸🇪Ingemar Johansson (2X), 🇦🇷Oscar Bonavena, 🇨🇦George Chuvalo,🇺🇸 Eddie Machen, 🇺🇸Tommy Jackson (2X).
NOTABLE DRAWS – 🇺🇸Jerry Quarry.