October 26 is a significant date in the history of the Sweet Science, a day when one great heavyweight redeemed the name of another. On that day in 1951, Joe Louis fought his final ring battle, defeated by Rocky Marciano; on the same day in 1970, Muhammad Ali returned to the arena following a three-year absence, scoring a win over Jerry Quarry.
Joe Louis vs. Rocky Marciano -- October 26, 1951
Joe Louis - Public Domain Photo
Joe Louis retired after his 1948 knockout of Jersey Joe Walcott. With absolutely nothing more to prove, but in desperate need of money, Louis returned to the ring two years later. The ill-advised comeback began inauspiciously enough, with Louis decisioned by Ezzard Charles. It was the Brown Bomber's first defeat since 1936, when he'd been kayoed by Max Schmeling.
Following his loss to Charles, Louis won his next eight bouts, scoring victories over such worthies as Cesar Brion, Lee Savold, and Jimmy Bivins. Smooth sailing for the good ship Brown...