Chapter Eight – Hard Times Part II Tony Canzoneri was the first lightweight champion of the Decade of the Nineteen Thirties. As covered previously, he was already the World Featherweight Champion when he challenged Al Singer for the Lightweight crown. On November 14, 1930 he knocked Singer out in one round at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
On April 24, 1931 he knocked out Jack “Kid” Berg in three rounds to take the light-welterweight title, making him a three division champion. On September 10, 1931 Canzoneri again defeated Berg in a rematch at the Polo Grounds in New York.1 He successfully defended the lightweight title against Billy Petrolle, known as “the Fargo Express” on November 4, 1932 in Madison Square Garden reversing a previous loss to Petrolle two years earlier. Petrolle is considered by many experts to be one of the greatest boxers to never win a world title. He campaigned during the heyday of Canzoneri, McLarnin and Ross. Too bad, for such a great fighter.
Canzoneri dropped a decision to another great, Barney Ross and then regained the lightweight title from Lou Ambers in 1935 but lost it again in a rematch and never again contended for a title. Ambers later went on to lose and win the the title from Henry Armstrong. He then lost the title to the free swinging Lew Jenkins who took the title into the Nineteen Forties.
Bat Battalino, a great fighter Freddy Miller and Petey Sarron held the featherweight title from 1929 until 1937, when Sarron lost the title to Henry Armstrong. In 1938 Armstrong surrendered the featherweight title to go after Barney Ross and the welterweight title. The vacant title then went to Joey Archibald.
The bantamweight title was held by arguably the best of the all, Panama Al Brown from 1929 to 1935. Okay, maybe not the greatest, but certainly one of the greatest. My vote goes to the great Brazilian Eder Jofre. I would have love to see a Jofre-Brown matchup, but they were divided by 30 years. But Panama Al is up there. In 1935 he lost the crown to Baltasar Sangchili. Brown is well-profiled in this chapter.
Sangchili then lost the title to Sixto Escobar. Lou Salica and Harry Jeffra round out the decade in the bantamweight class. The dominant flyweight was Benny Lynch, a hall of famer.
More excerpts from this book coming soon! Stay tuned.