Lee Groves

10: Best final acts

8. Dec. 15, 1962, Palazo Dello Sport, Milan, Italy – Duilio Loi W 15 Eddie Perkins III

For many years Loi was one of boxing’s forgotten legends. The native of Italy used an energetic bob-and-weave style to wear down opponents and a cast-iron jaw to discourage them. He didn’t have a great punch in relation to his peers (only 26 knockouts in 115 wins), which made his accomplishments even more impressive because he didn’t have the safety net of one-punch power to bail him out of tough situations. From November 1952 to June 1960 Loi compiled one of boxing history’s longest unbeaten streaks when he went 67-0-5 to raise his record to an incredible 102-1-7.

While he was almost unbeatable on the domestic and European level, he also prospered when he stepped up the competition. He pounded out victories over Ray Famechon (W 10), Orlando Zulueta (W 10) and former lightweight champion Wallace “Bud” Smith (KO 9), plus he twice gained vengeance against the man who stopped his 72-fight unbeaten streak – Hall of Famer Carlos Ortiz. Ortiz won a hard-fought and somewhat controversial split decision over Loi in San Francisco, one of only two appearances on American soil (a decision win over Glen Flanagan in January 1955 was the other). Loi won the rematch – and Ortiz’s world junior welterweight championship – by split decision in Milan and in the rubber match, again in Milan, Loi scored a sixth-round knockdown en route to a majority decision win three months later to end the series.

By Dec. 1962 Loi was nearing the end of the road. After winning the three-bout series with Ortiz, Loi was embroiled in another trilogy with future Hall of Famer Eddie Perkins. Loi was hoping to establish supremacy once and for all, which, given their history, would be an extremely tough task even though all their meetings were held in Loi’s back yard of Milan.

Their first meeting in Oct. 1961 at the Palazzo Dello Sport saw the pair fight to a draw that many observers felt Perkins should have won. The rematch, this time at the Velodromo Vigorelli in September 1962, saw Perkins overcome knockdowns in the first and 14th rounds yet still pile up enough points to seize Loi’s belt on the road. This, their third battle, was supposed to clarify the issue of supremacy between the 25-year-old counterpuncher and the 33-year-old infighter, who carried a 114-3-8 (26) record into the ring.

Just as he did against previous conquerors Jorgen Johansen and Ortiz, Loi got the final word against Perkins. His relentlessly suffocating attack neutralized Perkins’ skills en route to a decisive 15 round decision. Loi announced his retirement one month later, leaving the ring as both WBA and European junior welterweight champion. Loi couldn’t have imagined a better way to leave his chosen profession; a victory over a man who defeated him just three months earlier before an adoring public. If only all our legends could have exited this way.

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