Their first assembly, in July of 1977, was an exciting conflict, referred to as one of the sensational fights within the historical past of the Philadelphia Spectrum. As any educated boxing fan is aware of, there isn’t any increased reward than that. After eleven rounds of livid motion, an exhausted Marvin Johnson collapsed after absorbing a chronic battering in spherical twelve and Matthew Franklin was the brand new proprietor of the North American Boxing Federation gentle heavyweight championship.
Johnson wasted no time returning to the ring, going 6-1 earlier than taking a world title belt from Mate Parlov in 1978, whereas Franklin scored large wins over Richie Kates and Yaqui Lopez. The stage was set: a Johnson vs Franklin rematch for the world title, held in Johnson’s dwelling metropolis of Indianapolis and broadcast on stay nationwide tv. However might the second assembly stay as much as the wonderful motion of the primary?
Briefly, sure, it might. And it did. In reality, one suspects Marvin Johnson and Matthew Franklin (who would later change his title to Matthew Saad Muhammad) might have been matched up any variety of occasions and the outcome would have been the identical: a grueling, crowd-pleasing, continuous slugfest, each warriors more than pleased to commerce large pictures at shut quarters.
Franklin coaching in Philadelphia for the battle of his life.
On the opening bell, the southpaw champion chased after Franklin, seeking to impose his will and put the challenger on the defensive as he unloaded large left fingers and uppercuts on the within. For his half, Franklin, identified for being a gradual starter, took his time and waited for openings to throw his highly effective proper. In spherical two Johnson shook Franklin with an enormous left cross and the hometown crowd roared, however a minute later a robust uppercut buckled the champion’s legs, earlier than Johnson landed a collection of heavy lefts. And so it went: toe-to-toe slugging between two recreation and highly effective warriors.
The motion solely intensified in spherical three, neither man prepared to again down, each completely satisfied to carry their floor and commerce and see who might stand up to the higher punishment. Johnson labored to search out the correct distance for his harmful left uppercut and mid-way via the spherical he hit pay dust, gorgeous Franklin with the very best punch of the match so far. Extra uppercuts and large left fingers adopted and regardless of a final second rally from the Franklin, spherical three clearly belonged to the champion.
The irrepressible Johnson acquired his proper hook going to each physique and head within the fourth, and whereas there was nonetheless a protracted technique to go on this fifteen spherical battle, more and more it appeared that Johnson merely had Franklin’s quantity. Faster, extra aggressive and extra correct, the champion was having issues his method and punishing Franklin with a gradual barrage of heavy blows. Johnson regarded sharp and was combating with confidence, whereas the person from Philadelphia appeared listless and straightforward to hit.
However Franklin got here alive within the fifth behind his left hook and a decided, two-fisted physique assault. Johnson all of the sudden couldn’t discover the vary for his uppercut because the challenger, for the primary time, compelled Marvin to present floor. This led to a change in ways for the champion, utilizing his southpaw jab to maintain Franklin at a distance, but when that nullified Franklin’s physique assault, it additionally created openings for Matthew’s most harmful weapon: the suitable hand. A minute into spherical six he nailed Johnson with it and adopted up with two large proper uppercuts and all of the sudden the tables had been formally turned: now it was the champion who was wilting as the challenger took command with left hooks to the physique and proper fingers to the pinnacle.
Johnson tried to reassert himself in spherical seven by being the busier fighter, selecting up the tempo and snapping dwelling his proper jab with the left behind it. But it surely was all for naught as simply seconds earlier than the spherical’s finish Franklin struck with a vicious proper hand to the chin that took all of the battle out of the champion and virtually put him down. The challenger unloaded with each fingers, however the bell saved Johnson from sure doom, his cornermen grabbing him earlier than administering smelling salts and dousing him with water as he virtually fell off his stool in his nook.
To start out spherical eight Franklin confirmed extra snap in his jab than he had in any of the earlier rounds as he regarded to arrange the large proper hand once more, however amazingly it was Johnson who struck as an alternative along with his overhand left: as soon as, twice, thrice, the group cheering him on as he knocked Matthew again on his heels. What adopted was an amazingly intense toe-to-toe trade as Franklin, his face lined in blood, unloaded every little thing he had whereas Johnson stored throwing the large left, however the challenger was simply too robust, too highly effective, too decided. A collection of heavy blows drove the champion to the canvas. He beat the rely however the referee took a tough take a look at the wounded warrior in entrance of him and waved his arms. The grueling battle was over.
Matthew Franklin was the brand new WBC gentle heavyweight champion of the world. He would quickly change his title to Matthew Saad Muhammad, and within the span of some quick years depart an indelible mark on the brutal sport of pugilism. His thrilling clashes with Johnson, Yaqui Lopez, John Conteh, Dwight Braxton, amongst others, would cement his legacy as one of many bravest and most fun champions in boxing historical past. However his inspiring triumphs in his two violent wars with Marvin Johnson would all the time be amongst his biggest ring performances. — Neil Crane
The submit April 22, 1979: Johnson vs Franklin II appeared first on The Combat Metropolis.