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STORY OF PHILIPPINE BOXING PART IX: FLASH ELORDE VS. SANDY SADDLER


PhilBoxing.com




Gabriel "Flash" Elorde surprised the boxing globe when in July 20, 1955 he outpointed world featherweight champion Sandy Saddler over 10 rounds in a non-title fight in Manila. The unexpected victory catapulted Elorde to the world rankings and opened the opportunity for him to engage in international fights.

Joseph "Sandy" Saddler was an American and was a two-time world featherweight champion. He was able to reign also as world super featherweight champion.

During his twelve-year career, from 1944 to 1956, Saddler scored 104 knockouts in 145 wins as against 16 losses and 2 draws. He was stopped only once, in his second professional fight, by Jock Leslie via 3rd round TKO. In 2003, Saddler was ranked number five by The Ring on its list of "100 Greatest Punchers of All Time".

Elorde won unanimously on the scorecards of all three judges. Referee Jack Sullivan gave Elorde 8 rounds and Saddler only 2 while the two other judges had Elorde ahead by 7 rounds to 3 by R de los Reyes and 8 rounds to 2 by Felipe JC Galang.

It was a very memorable fight for the thousands of Elorde fans who saw the Filipino ring idol upset a famous veteran world champion who was regarded internationally as one of the dirtiest boxers in the sport.

Elorde traveled to the United States in January 18, 1956 for a rematch with Saddler, this time the world featherweight title was at stake. The rematch was held at the Cow Palace, Daly City, California. Going into the rematch, Elorde was 29-9-2 and Saddler was 142-15-2.

The bout started fairly slow but became a bloody battle royal from the 5th round. Elorde spent most of the fight trying to keep his face away from Saddler's banging head, began to bleed from the mouth.

The ruinous cut appeared above his left eye in the 7th, but in the 9th round the Filipino southpaw inflected the blood flowing from Saddler's nose with a stirring combination of punches. Saddler had a slight cut over the right eyebrow in the 12th, but had no other grave injury.

Elorde gave everything he could against Saddler. The cut over Elorde's eyes, however, bleed profusely which forced the bout to be halted, as referee Ray Flores and commission physician Dr. Robert Laddon agreed that the bout should be stopped and they did at 0:59 seconds of the 13th round.

When the bout ended the switchboard at the Cow Palace was flooded with long-distance phone calls from television fans all over the world lambasting Saddler's dirty tactics.

Many boxing experts criticized Saddler, as Jack Fiske of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "It was a dirty fight throughout and all the onus must be on the 126-pound champion's skinny shoulders. From this corner, it appeared highly improbable that he could have successfully defended the title ... if he hadn't resorted to all the so-called tricks in and out of the rule book."

In a very scornful editorial in The Ring, Nat Fleischer criticized Saddler for using "every foul technique known to the game," which included the rubbing of his head and the heels of his gloves into the cut over Elorde's eye.

The crowd of 5,000 booed Saddler throughout for his rough tactics and Fleischer was just echoing the popular sentiment that time when he wrote that Elorde looked like the sure winner before Saddler's foul fighting.

The disadvantage of blood flowing from the cut over the Elorde's eye changed the course of the fight in the 10th round as it affected the Filipino's performance. All three judges had Saddler just two points ahead after 12 rounds, 67-65.

It had been a valiant and tremendous performance by Elorde who, after the controversial loss, would start his long reign as world junior lightweight champion by knocking out American Harold Gomes in Manila four years later.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.


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