NYS Boxing History

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November in New York State Boxing History

On November 15, 1984, following stellar showings at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Brooklyn’s own Mark Breland, along with Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor and Virgil Hill, all made successful pro debuts at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

On November 24, 1948, Carmen Basilio, who was born in Canastota, NY, made his professional boxing debut in Binghamton, NY, knocking out his opponent, Jimmy Evans, in the third round. Basilio, nicknamed “The Upstate Onion Farmer,”  went on to win both the Welterweight and Middleweight titles later in his career. His nickname derived from his father’s profession as an onion farmer, in which Carmen toiled in as well before his boxing career took off. He was known for taking on all comers, including Kid Gavilan and Gene Fullmer, and for his unrelenting style of always coming forward. He usually absorbed incredible punishment in order to break his opponents will. Perhaps his most famous opponent and fight came against Sugar Ray Robinson on September 3, 19567, as he  won the Middleweight championship of the world by beating Robinson in one of the most exciting 15-round decisions in the history of the middleweight division. In 1990, he was among the greats inducted into the inaugural class of the  International Boxing Hall of Fame, which was built in Canastota, NY, in honor of Basilio. Basilio ended his professional career with a record of 56 wins (27 by KO), 16 losses and seven draws.

On November 26, 1920, Lightweight Benny Leonard, who was born on the lower east side of Manhattan, defeated Joe Welling via 14th-round TKO at New York’s Madison Square Garden.  Leonard was ranked 8th on the Ring Magazine's list of the "80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years" and 7th on ESPN's "50 Greatest Boxers of All-Time." In 2005, the International Boxing Research Organization ranked Leonard as the #1 lightweight of all-time. He finished his career with 90 Wins (70 by KO), six defeats, and one draw.