LONG AND lean, Sandy Saddler didn't look like a puncher. But he was. Saddler's 103 career knockouts are more than any other featherweight champion in history and rank him sixth on boxing's all-time list.
Saddler turned pro at 17 and engaged in 93 fights before he beat Willie Pep for the featherweight title in 1948. In 1945, he won 24 fights, including 17 by knockout. On the way to the title, he beat top featherweights Charles (Cabey) Lewis and Miguel Acevedo and met future lightweight champions Jimmy Carter and Joe Brown. He drew with Carter twice and knocked out Brown.
Saddler was always busy and just 18 days before his first title fight, he stopped fellow contender Willie Roache.
Saddler's career is best for his intense four-fight series with Pep. Pep boasted a 73-fight unbeaten streak and was considered boxing's consummate boxer before his first match with Sandy. But Saddler scored a fourth-round knockout to win Pep's title.
Three months and 13 days later, Pep put together a masterful boxing performance and regained the title. While waiting for another shot at Pep, Saddler won the vacant junior lightweight title by decisioning Orlando Zulueta in December of 1949. He defended it once, knocking out Lauro Salas, and was granted a third match with Pep in 1950.
The third and fourth Pep fights were marred by fouls. Saddler regained the title in the third fight via TKO and the fourth contest was stopped after the ninth round during to swelling around Pep's right eye.
Saddler's last significant fight was a 13th-round knockout of future junior lightweight champion Flash Elorde in 1956. At the age of 30, Saddler suffered a detached retina in a car accident and was forced to retire.
Born: June 23, 1926
Died: Sept. 18, 2001