December in NYS Boxing History

Contact NYSAC:
New York State Athletic Commission
123 William Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10038

Telephone: (212) 417-5700
Fax: (212) 417-4987

Deaf, hard of hearing and speech-disabled callers, please use 7-1-1

Media Inquiries

On December 4, 1972, former WBO World Heavyweight Champion Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs was born in Brooklyn, NY.

On December 5, 1947, Joe Louis retained his World Heavyweight Title with a 15-round split decision victory over Jersey Joe Walcott at New York’s Madison Square Garden. This was Louis’ 24th defense of the title.

On December 7, 1925, at the Broadway Auditorium in Buffalo, NY, Buffalo-native and lifetime resident Rocky Kansas scored a 15-round unanimous decision over Jimmy Goodrich to win the World Lightweight Title, finally achieving his dream of being a World Champion after two previous attempts and 14 years after first lacing up the gloves as a professional.

On December 7, 1970, “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali knocked out Oscar Bonavena in the 15th round to win the vacant NABF heavyweight title at New York’s Madison Square Garden. This was Ali’s second fight following a three-year layoff after being stripped of his title for refusing to be inducted into the armed forces due to his religious convictions. A victory in federal court forced Ali's license to be reinstated.

On December 8, 1931, boxing promoter and the Founder and CEO of Top Rank, Inc., Bob Arum, was born in Brooklyn, NY

On December 11, 1925, New York’s own Paul Berlenbach defended his Light Heavyweight title, defeating challenger and former champ, Jack Delaney, via decision at Madison Square Garden. This was the first time the Garden utilized what would become their permanent and signature boxing ring, which ultimately hosted thousands of fights at the venue for 82 years before finally being retired in 2007 and donated to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY. 
In an exciting contest, Berlenbach – who had won the belt from Mike McTigue seven months prior – was knocked down in the third round and, according to a ringside report, "punched groggy" in the sixth and seventh, but rallied strongly over the second half of the fight to turn back the challenge of Delaney. Berlenbach, known as the “Astoria Assassin,” finished his career with 40 wins (34 by KO), eight defeats and three draws. 

On December 15, 1995, the late Arturo “Thunder” Gatti scored a 12-round unanimous decision victory over Tracy Harris Patterson, the adopted son of former World Champion and boxing great Floyd Patterson, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, to win the IBF Super Featherweight Title. 

On December 16, 1967, Nigerian-born Dick Tiger won the WBC and WBA Light Heavyweight titles from Puerto Rican-born Jose Torres in a unanimous 15-round decision at Madison Square Garden. Although both men hailed from overseas, both came to call New York State home for a portion of their lives. Torres went on to become the Commissioner of the New York State Athletic Commission from 1984 to 1988.