NYS Boxing History

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February/March in New York State Boxing History

On February 2, 1977, former Welterweight and Middleweight Champion of the world, Emile Griffith scored a 10-round majority decision win over Irishman Christy Elliot at New York’s Madison Square Garden. This fight turned out to be Griffith’s last win of his professional career. He finished with a professional record of 85 wins (23 by knockout), 24 defeats, two draws and one no contest. Griffith fought a total of 40 bouts in New York State, including in Latham, Syracuse and Saratoga Springs, on top of his numerous bouts in New York City.

On February 10, 1962, a young Cassius Clay, who would later go by the name Muhammad Ali, fought in New York for the first time in his professional career. He recovered from a first round knockdown at the hands of Sonny Banks to score a technical knockout victory over Banks at Madison Square Garden. Ali fought a total of 11 times in the Empire State, including his first two bouts with “Smokin’” Joe Frazier at the Garden. Ali finished his iconic career with 56 wins (37 by knockout) versus five defeats.

Muhammad Ali

On March 8, 1971, “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali fought “Smokin’” Joe Frazier for the first time at New York’s Madison Square Garden in a heavyweight title classic that has been dubbed by many as The Fight of the Century. Frazier gave Ali his first professional defeat, in the first of their three classic bouts 9the first two taking place in New York) in one of the greatest boxing rivalries in the history of the sport. Frazier dropped Muhammad Ali in the fifteenth round and scored a unanimous decision to retain the world's Heavyweight title. Former Heavyweight Champion Frazier finished with a professional record of 32 wins (27 by knockout), four defeats and one draw and fought 11 times in the State of New York.

On March 29, 1965, Jose Torres defeated Willie Pastrano via a ninth round technical knockout to win the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council Heavyweight titles at Madison Square Garden. With that victory, the Puerto Rican-born Torres became the first Hispanic Light-Heavyweight champion in boxing history. Coincidentally, Torres went on to become the Commissioner of the New York State Athletic Commission from 1984 to 1988. He fought a total of 24 times in the State of New York, including in Utica, Buffalo and New York City and finished his professional career with 41 victories against 3 defeats and one draw.