Greatest Fights of the Century - "Louis vs. Marciano, October 1951" (1953)

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Here's a vintage episode of a 15-minute series, Greatest Fights of the Century, hosted by Jim Stevenson, which ran on the NBC Network from 1948 to 1954 (after Gillette Cavalcade of Sports) and, in Chicago, aired Friday nights on WNBQ Channel 5 at 9:45pm. This was from an original 16mm print, with the Academy leader leading it off. Includes:

Opening, with sponsor billboard for Vaseline Hair Tonic and Vaseline Cream Hair Tonic (voiceover by Phil Tonken, one of the longtime "voices" of WOR Channel 9 in New York City)

This episode deals with the Joe Louis vs. Rocky Marciano fight of October 26th 1951, held at Madison Square Garden in New York City for a scheduled 10 rounds, with 18,000 in attendance. The action is detailed thus:

- Round 1: Louis (212-3/4 pounds at the point of this fight) and Marciano (187 pounds) start squaring off. The announcer notes that if Louis wins, he will next fight against Jersey Joe Walcott. (Louis also took the match in order to pay off outstanding debts to the IRS, hence his being on the "comeback trail.") Marciano is favored because of his age (ten years younger than Louis whose reflexes have gotten slower with age). The round ends in a draw.

Commercial: Vaseline Lip Ice, for sore, cracked and chapped lips - Costs only 25 cents

Next, Rounds 2 through 4 are examined, and Marciano continues to wear Louis down. The announcer notes Louis still has a good left jab, and Marciano respects Louis' fighting skills; then Stevenson mentions Louis' long career in the ring. Then we go to Round 5, where the announcer mentions that in 3 years Marciano won 37 fights, 32 by KO, and (up to the point of this show) never lost a fight. Marciano's nose begins bleeding from Louis' left jabs. Stephenson (sp?) also compares Marciano's bobbing and weaving, and two-fisted attack, to Jack Dempsey; and notes that one reason for Marciano's technique is his short arms.

Commercial: Vaseline Cream Hair Tonic (animated) - set in barber shop where a barber shop quartet hawks the product - "The Only Hair Tonic Containing Viratol"

Back to the fight, with a summary of Rounds 6 and 7 as Round 8 is examined. Marciano by this point was speeding up the pace against Louis who was beginning to show the effects of his opponent's hooks, even if he left a cut under Marciano's right eye. Louis begins to go down after a hook from Marciano, but tries to get back into the swing of things before Marciano finally knocks him out, firmly ending Louis' boxing career once and for all. Everyone is stunned, and Marciano even apologizes for having brought Louis down, even as he is named leading contender for the heavyweight title.

Ending sponsor billboard for Vaseline Hair Tonic and Vaseline Cream Hair Tonic (voiceover by Phil Tonken)

Ending promo for the next Cavalcade of Sports edition, featuring Joey Giambra vs. (at this point tape is sped up and finally ends)

Exact info is hard to confirm but this episode aired on at least one station in the country in July 1953, so it's likely that it aired around the same time in Chicago - and as mentioned it was on at 9:45pm locally.





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This episode deals with the Joe Louis vs. Rocky Marciano fight of October 26th 1951, held at Madison Square Garden in New York City for a scheduled 10 rounds, with 18,000 in attendance. The action is detailed thus:

- Round 1: Louis (212-3/4 pounds at the point of this fight) and Marciano (187 pounds) start squaring off. The announcer notes that if Louis wins, he will next fight against Jersey Joe Walcott. (Louis also took the match in order to pay off outstanding debts to the IRS, hence his being on the "comeback trail.") Marciano is favored because of his age (ten years younger than Louis whose reflexes have gotten slower with age). The round ends in a draw.

Commercial: Vaseline Lip Ice, for sore, cracked and chapped lips - Costs only 25 cents

Next, Rounds 2 through 4 are examined, and Marciano continues to wear Louis down. The announcer notes Louis still has a good left jab, and Marciano respects Louis' fighting skills; then Stevenson mentions Louis' long career in the ring. Then we go to Round 5, where the announcer mentions that in 3 years Marciano won 37 fights, 32 by KO, and (up to the point of this show) never lost a fight. Marciano's nose begins bleeding from Louis' left jabs. Stephenson (sp?) also compares Marciano's bobbing and weaving, and two-fisted attack, to Jack Dempsey; and notes that one reason for Marciano's technique is his short arms.

Commercial: Vaseline Cream Hair Tonic (animated) - set in barber shop where a barber shop quartet hawks the product - "The Only Hair Tonic Containing Viratol"

Back to the fight, with a summary of Rounds 6 and 7 as Round 8 is examined. Marciano by this point was speeding up the pace against Louis who was beginning to show the effects of his opponent's hooks, even if he left a cut under Marciano's right eye. Louis begins to go down after a hook from Marciano, but tries to get back into the swing of things before Marciano finally knocks him out, firmly ending Louis' boxing career once and for all. Everyone is stunned, and Marciano even apologizes for having brought Louis down, even as he is named leading contender for the heavyweight title.

Ending sponsor billboard for Vaseline Hair Tonic and Vaseline Cream Hair Tonic (voiceover by Phil Tonken)

Ending promo for the next Cavalcade of Sports edition, featuring Joey Giambra vs. (at this point tape is sped up and finally ends)

Exact info is hard to confirm but this episode aired on at least one station in the country in July 1953, so it's likely that it aired around the same time in Chicago - and as mentioned it was on at 9:45pm locally." /> Share

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W.B. 08/31/2016 Reply

Given that New York-based Phil Tonken did the opening and closing sponsor billboards, I'm venturing this may've been aired nationally in certain markets - including, in New York itself, on WNBT Channel 4, at 10:45pm (ET).

W.B. 08/31/2016 Reply

Corrected narrator's spelling, as based on IMDb entry for this show. This show ran from 1948 to 1954, while Gillette Cavalcade of Sports ran on TV from 1944(!) to 1960.