The year 1981 was “smack dab” in the middle of the golden age of boxing (1964 – 1995)….a time when the heavyweight division showcased many great to super great boxers….starting with boxing legends like Smokin’ Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes and George Foreman….and including really good to great heavyweights like Earnie Shavers, Jimmie Ellis, Trevor Berbick, Jimmy Young, Joe Bugner, Roy Lyle, Chuck Webner, Leon Spinks….along with Gerry Cooney and Ken Norton….as Berbick, Ellis, Spinks and Norton each held world titles at one time or another….and the rest fought for world heavyweight titles on multiple occasions….for this was truly the age of the heavyweight division in professional boxing….for this bout between Gentleman Gerry Cooney vs Ken Norton was billed as the fight that would define the next contenter for the world title.
Gerry Cooney was an American professional boxer….who competed from 1977 to 1990…. and despite his relative inexperience….Cooney’s exciting wins and size which were aided by expert promotion….gained him a lucrative bout in 1982 with world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes….where Cooney performed credibly before his corner retired him in round 13….while being regarded as having made a brave and determined effort. The view of him as tactically naive in defense was reinforced when former light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks stopped Cooney in five rounds….then in his final title fight in 1987….Gentleman Gerry demonstrated his exceptionally hard punching power by staggering the powerful George Foreman….but was unable to capitalize on it while showing a deficiency in basic self-protection….Cooney suffered a devastating second-round KO that ended his career.
Beginning in 1980, Gerry Cooney was being featured on national television….while beating one-time title challengers Jimmy Young and Ron Lyle with both by KO’s….and by then Cooney was ranked number 1 by the WBC and eager for a match with champion Larry Holmes….so, in 1981, he defeated former world heavyweight champion Ken Norton by a knockout just 54 seconds into the first round with a blisteringly powerful attack as seen in this video herewith….as this KO broke the record set in 1948 by Lee Savold for the quickest knockout in a main event in Madison Square Garden. Gentleman Gerry Cooney ended his professional boxing career with 28 wins 24 KO’s and 3 losses.
Ken Norton was an American professional boxer who competed from 1967 to 1981…. and held the WBC heavyweight title from 1977 to 1978….as he is best known for his trilogy of fights with Muhammad Ali….in which Norton won the first fight by split decision, and controversially lost the latter two fights by split and unanimous decision, respectively. Norton also fought a slugfest with Larry Holmes in 1978….as he again narrowly lost on a split decision. Having officially retired from boxing in 1981, Norton was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.
Norton was a forward-pressing fighter/boxer who was notable for his unusual guard/stance characterised by the cross arm defense….whereby his left arm was held low across the torso with his right hand up by the right or left ear…..and when under heavy pressure both arms were brought up high across at face level while leaning forward….for this left the opponent little target in theory. The guard was also used by the legendary Archie Moore. Tim Witherspoon, George Foreman….while later being used very effectively during his famous comeback years….as Smokin’ Joe Frazier even borrowed this style for occasions in his third Ali match. The style is named the “cross-armed defense”….as it tends to look crablike….for Norton would bob and weave from a crouch…. while firing well placed heavy punches….as Norton was at his best when advancing….as he would drag or slide the right foot along from behind. By comparison, most conventional boxers have elbows in at the torso with forearms vertically parallel to each another….with the gloves then being both near sides of the face. Most trainers believe the conventional style is a better defense and that the cross-arm style leaves the user open far too often.
Famous trainer, Angelo Dundee….who trained both Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard….wrote that Norton’s best punch was the left hook….while many others lauded his infamous overhand right….but regardless of which was his best punch, the left hook or the overhand right….Ken Norton was a devasting puncher…..who ended a steller career as a super great heavyweight boxer with a career record of 42 wins and 7 losses…but on this night of May 11, 1981….Ken Norton ran into a Gerry Cooney “haymaker” in the 1st minute of their fight….that sent him to his knees in the corner….where Gentleman Gerry Cooney plumetted Norton into submission in his most devastating defeat of his career.
Anyway, you cut the pie….this fight was very exciting for the short time that it lasted…and when a boxing fan gets the opportunity to watch a fight between two really outstanding heavyweight boxers from the golden age of boxing….it becomes MUST SEE TV !!!