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1950s / Patterson-Rademacher fight 1957
The 1950s are often described as the golden age of boxing--when depth and talent were supposedly at their finest in the sweet science. People tend to forget that the heavyweight division was rather weak for much of the decade. Contenders for the world heavyweight title were so scarce that Pete Rademacher, the 1956 Olympic gold medalist, got a coveted shot at world heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson's title in his pro debut! Having won the heavyweight laurels in Melbourne in 1956 by scoring three knockouts in his only three bouts, Rademacher, a Washingtonian, somehow persuaded the powers that be that it would be a great idea if he could fight Patterson in Seattle' Sick Stadium in a unique amateur-versus-pro matchup. Patterson agreed if the promoters could guarantee him $250,000. They did--so the fight was set for August 22, 1957. Surprisingly, Rademacher did well in the first two rounds, pressing the action and even scoring a knockdown with a hard right hand. By the fourth round, however, Patterson's class began to show. He scored one of what would be seven knockdowns of the game challenger. Eventually Rademacher was knocked out in the fifth round. The promotion barely generated financial enough interest to meet Patterson's guaranteed payday. Depending on which source you believe, Rademacher got either absolutely nothing or a laughable $1.75 for his losing effort. Undaunted, Rademacher fought hard-hitting Zora Folley in his next bout--and was knocked out again. Rademacher ended his pro boxing career with a 15-7-1 record. All seven of his defeats came at the hands of world-class fighters. As of August 2015, Pete was still alive and kicking at age 86.