Most boxing fans should be familiar with the term “crossroads fight.” For those who aren’t familiar, a crossroads fight is defined as one where the career trajectory of both men seem to be divergent. Bouts where youngsters face veterans often fit the description.
In those match-ups, it sometimes happens that the guy supposedly fated to win and move on actually loses, suffering a setback that affects his career in one way or another.
On May 8, 1934, Mickey Walker, weathered son-of-a-gun, avenged his most recent loss by out-pointing Maxie Rosenbloom, crafty son-of-a-gun.
In an interview prior to their first clash, Walker was asked what he thought of Rosenbloom, and he replied, “Harry Greb. There was a man… This Rosenbloom — pay no attention. He doesn’t either smoke or drink.”
Walker’s remarks summed up that stage in the career of both men: Walker was a celebrity and long-toothed former champion, and lived like one, while Rosenbloom fought hard to hold on to what little mainstream respect he had, even as light heavyweight champion.
Rosenbloom’s ledger reflected his plight, as he had scored only one stoppage in his previous 32 bouts, with the lone early victory being an overwhelming kind of referee intervention. In other words, he earned his nickname “Slapsie.” He was often being warned for punching with the heel of his glove, if not outright slapping his opponents.
The initial meeting between Walker and Rosenbloom in November of 1933 saw Walker, seemingly a mere shade of himself, struggling to keep up, with Rosenbloom smacking and steering. Walker pressured, able to occasionally catch and rock the light heavyweight champion, but the “Toy Bulldog” seemed more toy than bulldog.
Walker made it a point to show that he deserved a return bout against Rosenbloom, fighting six times in as many months, earning a 4-0-2 ledger in that time. The two draws were against Bob Godwin, who himself clashed with Slapsie Maxie six times, with a record of 1-2-3.
Rosenbloom kept busy himself in the same time span, fighting 12 times since the first fight, and going 5-3-4.
Coming in at 176 pounds, it was one of only two times in his career that Walker would weigh in above the light heavyweight limit. Nonetheless, the final media workout was the day before the bout, with both men reportedly looking “ready.”
An account from AP correspondent Paul Zimmerman called the men “two docile old ringmasters.” The same report went on to summarize by saying, “Walker, the elder, won himself a 10-round decision over the world’s light heavyweight champion last night in a non-title fight which saw half the 10,000 seats in the Olympic Auditorium empty. The Rumson, N.J., bulldog, built up a wide lead in the first five rounds as Rosenbloom, slightly bald of head and heavy around the waist, pawed ineffectively at the former world’s welter and middleweight champion.”
An overhand right from Walker in round 1 had Rosenbloom, at a minimum, going to the canvas off of the force of the shot alone, even if it didn’t land completely flush. A no-count knockdown was counted, and Walker used his pressure and output to take over the first half of the fight, though a separate AP report read, “There was nothing about the proceedings for either of the contestants to boast of.” A United Press report of the bout referred to Walker as, “one of the old men of fistiania.”
A partial remainder of Zimmerman’s report on the bout itself said, “In the fifth Walker brought blood from Rosenbloom’s left eye as the result of a light cut. Whereupon he forgot about the injured optic as Slapsie-Maxie took the play for a change, cuffing his opponent around the ring. A gallery group, which rather held the proceedings in contempt, tried some close harmony in the form of ‘Sweet Adeline’ and ‘Three o’clock in the Morning.’ They liked the latter in particular putting much stress on the bar, ‘We danced the whole night through.’ The music, however, failed to increase the tempo of the fight…”
The UP scored the bout 7-3 in favor of Walker, while the AP reported a 6-3-1 score for Walker — both convincing, in any event.
This fight would be essentially the last high profile bout for both men, and Mickey Walker’s last significant win at a high level.
Rosenbloom would move forward with his career, winning against a number of higher profile, yet overall middling light heavyweight fighters, but never again recapturing a serious measure of greatness.