TIMING, AS much as talent, played an important part in Floyd Patterson's career. Patterson won a gold medal at the 1952 Olympics while fighting as a middleweight. When he turned pro, he began fighting as a light heavyweight. The first loss of his career was a controversial decision to former 175-pound champ Joey Maxim.
When Rocky Marciano retired in 1956, Patterson seized his opportunity. With the heavyweight title vacant, Patterson decisioned Tommy Jackson in a title elimination bout and then knocked out 42-year-old light heavyweight champion Archie Moore in the fifth round to win the vacant crown. He was 21 years and 10 months old, the youngest man to ever capture the heavyweight title. At the time, Moore was the oldest man to ever challenge for that title.
Patterson made four successful title defenses but his reign came to an end in June of 1959 when Sweden's Johansson knocked him out in the third round.
Again Patterson would find himself in the record books when he stopped Johansson in a rematch to become the first man in history to regain the heavyweight title.
Patterson's tenure as champ ended for good when Sonny Liston knocked him out in one round in 1962 and then again in a rematch 10 months later. Patterson would challenge for the crown again in 1965 but was stopped in 12 rounds by Muhammad Ali. His final change at the title came in 1968 when he lost a 15-round decision to Jimmy Ellis for the vacant WBA crown.
Patterson finally retired after a 1972 loss to Ali. In 1995, he was named Boxing Commissioner for the State of New York.
Born: Jan. 4, 1935
Died: May 11, 2006