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Ingemar Johansson

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Ingemar Johansson (born 22 September 1932) was a Swedish heavyweight boxer.

He defeated Floyd Patterson to win the World Heavyweight Championship. As a result, Johansson won the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year in 1959 and was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year".

Johansson's introduction to the sport's limelight was inauspicious. He was disqualified for running from the eventual olympic gold medalist, Ed Sanders during the semifinals of the 1952 Helsinki heavyweight competition. Johansson maintained he was not fleeing Sanders, but rather was trying to tire his huge opponent for a planned third round onslaught. Nevertheless, his silver medal was withheld for this poor performance, but he was presented with the medal in 1982.

Johansson enjoyed a successful career as a heavyweight. He retired in 1963 with a record of 26 wins, 17 by KO, and only 2 losses, and was named to the Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. He won the European Heavyweight championship by scoring a 13 round KO over Italian title holder Franco Cavicchi. Johansson successfully defended his European Crown against ranked heavyweights Henry Cooper (5th round KO on May 19, 1957}, and Joe Erskine, who he TKOed in 13 on February 21, 1958.

Johansson earned his shot at the world heavyweight crown when he KOed top ranked contender Eddie Machen in the first round of their elimination match. Johansson then signed to fight champion Floyd Patterson. Johansson was a colorful figure in New York as he trained for the fight. Eschewing the monastic training regimen favored by Patterson and other fighters, Johansson trained at the Catskill resort of Grossingers. He didn't seem to train particularly hard, and was often seen at night spots with his attractive "secretary". Accordingly, he entered the ring on June 26, 1959 as a 5-1 underdog.

Johansson spent the first two rounds of the encounter retreating and flicking a light left jab at the champion. In the third round, Johansson threw a wide left hook that Patterson blocked with his right hand. When he moved his right hand away from its protective peek-a-boo position before his chin, Johansson drilled him with a short powerful right hand. Patterson went down, arose on unsteady legs and was out on his feet. Johansson followed up his advantage and sent Patterson down 6 more times in the round before the bout was stopped by referee Ruby Goldstein.

The two signed for a rematch the following year. Johansson seemed to train even more cavalierly for the rematch, but entered the fight as the betting favorite. Fighting perhaps the best fight of his career, Patterson won the fight, and became the first man in history to regain the heavyweight championship of the world) by scoring a brutal knockout over Johansson in 5 rounds on June 20, 1960.

Patterson and Johansson fought once more on March 13, 1961. Although Johansson appeared to be in the worst physical condition of his three bouts with Patterson, he caught Patterson leaping at him in the very first round and knocked him down. He followed his advantage up by scoring another knockdown, but was himself caught going in wide open by a Patterson left hook that knocked him down. As the fight progressed, it became obvious that Johansson had shot his bolt. Patterson eventually KOed him in round 6.

Johansson then returned to Europe, and recaptured the European crown from Dick Richardson by an eight round KO on June 17, 1962. By this time Sonny Liston had captured the heavyweight crown from Patterson, and efforts were underway to match Johansson with Liston. Johansson, however, fought journeyman heavyweight, Brian London on March 21, 1963. With 4 seconds remaining in the fight London tagged Johansson with a powerful right hand that knocked him cold. Fortunately for Johansson, he was saved by the final bell and awarded the controversial decision. Johansson, however, never fought again.


Preceded by:
Floyd Patterson
Heavyweight boxing champion
1959–1960
Succeeded by:
Floyd Patterson

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