Greatest Rivalries: Patterson - Johansson I

Hey guys,

It's been a while since I brought a piece over but it's also been a while since I wrote a boxing piece. I wanted to take a look at the Patterson - Johansson trilogy because they were such perfect opposites and each managed to get a win over the other.

Hope you don't mind the link - can't reproduce the whole thing - and as always all feedback is very much welcomed,




Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson represented polar opposites both in the ring and outside of it. Johansson, one of the few Europeans to win a heavyweight title in boxing, was known for his fast living outside of the ring, being something of a playboy and for his brash though good-natured manner of speech. Floyd Patterson on the other hand was known as 'The Gentleman of Boxing' and his behavior towards his opponents reflected that. Inside of the ring they couldn't have been more different as Johansson represented a more traditional outfighter with a tremendous right hand - dubbed "Ingo's Bingo" or "Thor's Hammer" in various newspapers - while Patterson was the prototype of the peekaboo style, known for his ferocious left hook.

Johansson had a lot to make up for after being disqualified for timidity in the gold medal match of the 1952 Helsinki olympics, and had since gone on a dominating streak as a professional. Patterson meanwhile had become the youngest man to ever win the world heavyweight title at the tender age of 20. Johansson provided the hype for the match and one of the better quotes in boxing history as he noted shaking hands with Patterson was "like shaking hands with a lace curtain".

Heavyweight matches are often advertised with the "whoever connects first" angle - but it is rarely true as both men miss until one is exhausted but both Patterson and Johansson rank among Ring Magazine's 100 Greatest Punchers of All Time. Roberto Duran's bragging that he had the right hand of Ingemar Johansson should indicate that Ingo's Bingo was considered the premier power punch in the world for some time. In the Johannson - Patterson trilogy, especially as Patterson was known for his weak jaw and brutal counters, a single punch could change the course of the fight.

When the two fighters met for the first time in 1959 the strategy of each was as obvious as it had been in the build up to the fight. Every time Johansson attempted a jab - Patterson squared his hips and shoulders, assuming a crouch and threatening his sinister left hook.


Notice how Patterson crouches almost to the height of Johansson's hips, squaring his shoulders and preparing to leap up off of his left foot.


Here you can see Patterson's squat from another angle. Patterson was trained by Cus D'amato who famously went on to coach Mike Tyson. Patterson may be viewed as something of a prototype of the style which Tyson used to dominate so many men in his prime.

Patterson, however, had the habit of becoming something of a one dimensional fighter. He had power in his right hand, his knockout of Pete Rademacher two years before this fight should serve as evidence of this.


Patterson's right hand was clearly less powerful than his left and far less dexterous - serving only to fill space in his rapid combinations ordinarily. His main choice of counter, the inside slip or duck to left hook - also made it difficult for him to focus his attention on throwing his right hand anyway. From his squared position he could not rotate his hips into his right punches much whereas his left punches could be thrown with great venom from the coiled stance that he took. A look at the uncoordinated right lunge punch that Patterson makes at the 1:42 will attest to Patterson's one handedness in skill.

Johansson defused Patterson with surprising ease however. Patterson was easily the fastest heavyweight of his day, and was supposed to represent a further evolution of boxing, yet the simple act of circling away from Patterson's left hand left him stumped. Patterson managed to connect on several occasions but because Ingemar was moving away from Patterson's left hand at the time there was little impact.

Concludes at:

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