Boxing History: November 17, 1939 Billy Conn W 15 Gus Lesnevich, NYC. Retains World Light Heavyweight Title.William David “Billy” Conn (October 8, 1917–May 29, 1993) was an American professional boxer and Light Heavyweight Champion famed for his fights with Joe Louis. He had a professional boxing record of 64 wins, 11 losses and 1 draw, with 15 wins by knockout. His nickname, throughout most of his career, was “The Pittsburgh Kid.”Conn fought Joe Louis for the World Heavyweight Championship on June 18, 1941 at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Conn, outweighed by more than 25 pounds, gave Louis one of his toughest fights. After twelve rounds, Conn was ahead on two scorecards and even on the third. He needed to win just one of the remaining three rounds to win the fight. Having wobbled Louis in the twelfth round, Conn went for a knockout in the thirteenth and got knocked out himself. He was counted out with only two seconds left in the round. The Ring Magazine ranked the fight as the sixth greatest title fight of all-time in 1998.
Professional boxing, or prizefighting, emerged in the early twentieth century as boxing gradually attained legitimacy and became a regulated, sanctioned sport. Professional boxing bouts are fought for a purse which is divided between the boxers as determined by contract. Most professional boxing bouts are supervised by a regulatory authority to guarantee the fighters’ safety. Most high-profile bouts obtain the endorsement of a sanctioning body, which awards championship belts, establishes rules, and assigns its own judges and referee. Professional boxing bouts are typically much longer than amateur bouts, and can last up to twelve rounds, though less significant fights can be as short as four rounds. Protective headgear is not permitted, and boxers are generally allowed to take substantial punishment before a fight is halted. Pro boxing has enjoyed a much higher profile than amateur boxing throughout the twentieth century and beyond.