Famous Ring Wars – Patterson vs Johansson 3
By John F. McKenna (McJack): On March 13, 1961 Floyd Patterson and Ingermar Johansson fought for the third time in their three fight trilogy. Ingo had surprised the boxing world when he destroyed Patterson in three rounds on June 26, 1959 to capture the Heavyweight Championship of the world. Johansson had limited boxing skills, but he had a tremendous right hand that was fast and came in straight like a laser shot. The big Swede referred to his devastating right hand in his Swedish dialect as “Toonder and Lightning”.
When Ingo landed his right hand his opponent usually collapsed in a heap. Johansson had knocked out number one contender Eddie Machen in one round on September 14, 1958 in Sweden to earn the title shot at Patterson. Even with Ingo’s impressive win over Machen, Patterson was a five to one favorite going into the fight with Johansson. Johannson landed his “Toonder and Lightning” punch in the third round and knocked Patterson down seven times before the fight was finally stopped by the referee.
The second Patterson vs Johansson fight took place a year later on June 20, 1960 in what was probably Patterson’s best fight. He trained extremely hard and had put on eight pounds of muscle, coming into the fight at a career high of 190 pounds. Johansson weighed in at 194 3/4 pounds. Patterson as usual fought out of his peek a boo stance. He was able to withstand Ingo’s famous right hand in the second round and gradually wore him down with his superior speed and boxing skill. In the fifth round Patterson KO’d Johansson with one of the most devastating left hooks ever in boxing history. Johansson’s leg twitched eerily as he was counted out. Ingemar remained unconscious for several minutes as he was tended to by ring doctors and his corner people.
Patterson had become the first man in history to regain the Heavyweight Championship. He had also regained much of the prestige he had lost after his loss to Johansson in their first fight. Of course Patterson’s KO over Johansson set the stage for a third fight and a rubber match. The third fight took place in Miami Beach on March 13, 1961. Fight fans were in store for a terrific slug fest and the most exciting Heavyweight Championship fight in years. Johansson seemed to be picking up where he left off in the first fight, knocking Patterson down twice in the first round with his laser straight “Toonder and Lightning” right hand. Ingo seemed to be well on his way to scoring another knockout over Patterson. This time however Floyd refused to be knocked out. Both of the knockdowns Johansson scored were sizzling right hands over Patterson’s jab.
After the second knockdown, Patterson forgot about his left jab, threw caution to the wind and went on the attack. He fought desperately to get himself back into the fight and threw a terrific left hook knocking Ingemar down, the fight still being in the first round.
After the first round Patterson’s superior condition, speed and boxing skills began to pay off. Johansson began to be worn down by Patterson’s body attack. In the sixth round Ingo again caught Patterson with his “Toonder and Lightning” right hand, but by now his punches were losing their power due to Floyd’s ferocious body attack. Patterson continued his attack and knocked Johansson out in the sixth round with a blazing fast right hand.
Patterson had retained his title in convincing fashion and he had done it by exhibiting a huge amount of heart. He had overcome much adversity in his life and went on to become one of the most well liked champions. Truly a class act. He will always be known as the first man to win back the Heavyweight Championship, a feat that many thought was impossible because so many had failed in the attempt.