On this day, 14 September 1923 (Exactly 96 years ago today), Jack Dempsey KO Luis Firpo in round 2 for heavyweight boxing title at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Dempsey had been champion since 1919, and Firpo was one of the top heavyweights of the world, nicknamed “El Toro de las Pampas” (“The Bull of the Pampas”). Eighty thousand fans paid to see the fight live.
Firpo displayed his power immediately, when he dropped a lunging Dempsey with a right hand just after the start of the first round. Dempsey landed on one knee, then quickly recovered. Dempsey then rushed onto his rival and proceeded to drop Firpo seven times within a minute and a half. There was no “three knockdown” rule, and Dempsey was permitted to stand over the fallen fighter and immediately knock him down again, as there was yet no rule about going to a neutral corner.
But only half a minute later, towards
the end of the first round, Firpo struck again. Trapping Dempsey against the ropes, he struck with another right to Dempsey’s chin. Dempsey tumbled backwards out of the ring, and a photographer caught him as his legs pointed upwards.
Dempsey hit a ringside writing machine during his fall, and he suffered a severe cut to the back of his head. He was helped back into the ring by the writers at ringside. Film of the fight shows the referee had reached the count of fourteen by the time he returned.
After that scare, Dempsey recovered, dropping Firpo two more times in the second round, for a knockout victory at the fifty-seven-second mark of that round.
On this day 14 September 2009 (Exactly 10 years ago) Juan Martin Del Potro became only the second man to beat Federer in a Grand Slam final.
Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro ended Roger Federer’s five-year unbeaten reign at the US Open in five dramatic sets to win his first Grand Slam title.
The then 20-year-old sixth seed twice fought back from a set down to win 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.
Del Potro was the first man other than Rafael Nadal to beat Federer in the final of a Grand Slam tournament.
Swiss star Federer, then 28, had been going for a record-equalling sixth consecutive title at Flushing Meadows.
But Federer found Del Potro, in a Grand Slam final for the first time, in determined mood as he became the second Argentine to win the US title after Guillermo Vilas, who was in the Arthur Ashes Stadium to witness his compatriot’s victory.
Del Potro hailed ‘unbelievable’ win
“I had two dreams this week,” said Del Potro. “One was to win the US Open and the other one is to be like Roger.
“One is done, but I need to improve a lot to be like you,” he said, looking at the five-time champion.
“You fought until the final point. You are a great champion. I’m very happy to be here with this crown, with these people, on this court. This will be in my mind forever.”
After a final that lasted four hours and six minutes, Federer said: “I would like to congratulate Juan Martin on an unbelievable tournament. I had a great one but he was the best.
“I would have never believed I could win five in a row here. It has been an amazing run for me.”
He added: “I was two points from the match today. That’s the way it goes sometimes. But I’ve had an unbelievable run this year. Being in all major finals and winning two of those.
“Sure, I would have loved to win those two as well. But the year has been amazing already. Got married and had kids, don’t know how much more I want.”
Federer went into the match on a 40-match unbeaten run in New York, his last defeat coming against another Argentine, David Nalbandian, in the fourth round in 2003.
He also held a 6-0 career record against Del Potro and was playing in his 22nd Grand Slam final, targeting a 16th major win.
However, Del Potro had rocketed up the rankings over the previous year and pushed Federer desperately close over five sets in the French Open semi-finals in June.
His 6-2 6-2 6-2 demolition of Nadal in the semi-finals also left no-one in any doubt that he posed a real threat to Federer.
The question was whether he could handle the weight of expectation in a final that Federer has dominated since 2004.
The signs were not good early on as Federer converted his fifth break point of a lengthy second game with a beautiful forehand pass and went on to serve out the set.
Del Potro then double-faulted twice in succession at the start of the second set to hand over another break, and the 23,000 spectators groaned as one as it appeared the younger man was crumbling under the pressure.
It was not until the fourth game of the second set that Del Potro finally made some impression, but Federer saved three break points and looked poised for a two-set lead when serving at 5-4.
The match turned at 30-30 when Del Potro hit a magnificent forehand down the line that was called ‘out’ but overturned by Hawkeye.
A furious Federer protested to the umpire but there was to be no overruling the computer, and Del Potro then cracked another forehand winner to break back.
From 3-3 in the tie-break, Federer mishit a forehand return before Del Potro came up with two blistering winners and converted his third set point with another.
The sixth seed was now hitting the ball as he had done in his semi-final against Nadal, the power and depth constantly troubling Federer, but after breaking in game seven he allowed his opponent to level at 4-4 by dropping his own serve.
Federer served his way out of trouble in game nine, despite an angry exchange with the umpire over how long Del Potro was taking to challenge with Hawkeye.
Del Potro then appeared to hand the match to Federer in game 10, serving two double-faults in a row to give the world number one a two-sets-to-one lead.
Del Potro’s fitness and ability to last five sets at the highest level had remained about the only question mark hanging over his game going into the final, and he was about to dismiss it for good.
Staring down the barrel at 15-40 early in the fourth set, he found two huge forehand winners to save, then broke to love for a 3-2 lead, only to see Federer level at 4-4 with some brave attacking play.
Federer was just two points away from the title in game 10 before Del Potro came storming back to earn break points in game 11.
But a pulsating encounter would require another tie-break.
There was more bad feeling over the use of Hawkeye but it was two missed forehands from Federer that allowed Del Potro to take the match into a fifth set.
It was the first time since Andre Agassi beat Todd Martin 10 years ago that the US Open final had gone to a decider, and the experience and fitness of Federer suggested he would start favourite.
However, the Swiss paid the price for playing to Del Potro’s fearsome forehand too often, the Argentine breaking for 2-0 with yet another huge winner.
Federer had one chance in the next game to get back on serve but put a backhand long, and from then on Del Potro played nervelessly.
He reached two championship points on the Federer serve in game eight, converting the second when Federer hit a backhand long.
STORIES: GEORGE MAHAMAH