8. Jimmy Carter vs. Lauro Salas – April 1, 1952 to June 21, 1956
Salas, nicknamed the “Lion of Monterrey” for his relentless pressuring style, fought most of his career at featherweight before getting the call to fight lightweight champion Carter, who was making the second defense of his crown. Salas’ 51-23-8 record wasn’t much to look at and he appeared to be every bit the nondescript fighter many thought him to be over the first 10 rounds as Carter solidified his superiority. However, Salas caught fire in the “championship rounds” and his furious rally nearly consumed the champion. Salas capped the surge with a flash knockdown in the 15th but his Rocky-esque ending fell short as Carter won by four, five and nine points.
Salas’ strong late-rounds showing was enough to persuade promoters to stage a rematch six weeks later. This time the 4-to-1 underdog came through by cutting Carter early and overwhelming him with non-stop punching. Salas’ split decision victory was one of the year’s biggest surprises and the action over the first 30 rounds made a third fight a natural – at least inside the ring.
The rubber match was a box-office disaster, for the attendance of 5,283 is the smallest crowd ever to attend a title fight in Chicago Stadium. But the notoriously hot-and-cold Carter was on his game as he sliced Salas’ eyes to shreds, established control on the inside and prevented Salas from making any headway in the late rounds. Carter won by 12, 14 and 18 points to effectively put an end to the series in terms of establishing dominance.
Their fourth fight, held four years later, was largely anticlimactic as both were past their best. Carter had lost five of his last seven while Salas was 3-3 in his last six, but Carter had more than enough to register a 10-round decision victory that ran the gamut in terms of scoring (100-91, 94-90, 96-95).