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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Louis retains title on split decision
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

Dec. 5, 1947

It appears that journeyman Jersey Joe Walcott has scored a stunning upset over heavyweight champ Joe Louis. The 10-1 underdog knocks Louis down in the first round, and again in the fourth.

While Walcott backpedals for a good part of the fight - he practically refrains from fighting the last two rounds, thinking he has the bout already won - he still controls the action. He causes the Brown Bomber's nose to bleed and makes his left eye a crevice in a blue-edged lump. After the 15th round, Louis attempts to exit the ring, thinking he has lost. The sellout crowd of 18,194 in Madison Square Garden believes the same.

But then the announcement is made that Louis has retained his title in a split decision. The champ is booed. Both fighters are surprised by the verdict.

"Joe knew I won," Walcott says. "He said, 'I'm sorry.' "

When told what Walcott says, Louis replies, "I'm sorry it was such a bad fight. History generally repeats. I do better in my second fight."

Louis does. Six months later, he will knock out Walcott in the 11th round.

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