Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On This Day: Mickey Walker: The Toy Bulldog Remembered



 By Peter Silkov


Mickey Walker was one of the toughest, most popular, and exciting pugilists of his era.  If ever a fighter was summed up by his nickname, then it was Walker. ‘The Toy Bulldog’ was an aggressive slugger, with a good punch in either hand, and renowned for his durability and heart. Walker was a great in-fighter, and despite his lack of stature (at 5’ feet 7” inches), he fought all the top fighters, from welterweight to heavyweight, during his career.

Mickey Walker was born on July 13, 1901 in New Jersey.  He started fighting as a professional in 1919, and with his exciting all-action style, quickly became a crowd favourite, and rose up the ratings in double quick time.  After just 27 fights, Walker was matched with the clever and hugely experienced Jack Britton, for Britton’s World Welterweight championship on November 1, 1922.  In a classic battle of youth vs. age (at twenty-one he was almost sixteen years Britton’s junior), Walker who proved to be too young and strong for Britton, won a 15 rounds point’s decision, and with it, the World welterweight title.

With the world title in his hands, Walker soon became one of boxing’s most popular champions, staying busy with non-title fights, as well as a number of title defences. ’The Toy Bulldog’ quickly gained the reputation of playing as hard outside of the ring, as he fought inside of it. On July 2, 1925, Walker challenged the great Harry Greb for the World Middleweight title, but was out-pointed after a ferocious fight.  Ten months later, on May 20, 1926, Walker lost his World welterweight title when he was beaten on points over 10 rounds by Pete Latzo. Unable to make the welterweight weight limit comfortably anymore, Walker moved up to middleweight, and on December 3, 1926, he won the World Middleweight championship, with a controversial point’s decision over Tiger Flowers. Walker won despite most ringside spectators believing that Flowers was the rightful winner.

Despite the controversy, ‘The Toy Bulldog’ proved himself to be a worthy champion over the next four and a half years, defending the middleweight title three times, and winning all three defences.  During this time, on March 28, 1929, Walker challenged Tommy Loughran for the World Light-heavyweight title, but was beaten on a split point’s decision, by the fast and skillful Loughran.  By this time, Walker was already regularly fighting light heavyweights and heavyweights in non-title fights, and from 1930 onwards, Walker concentrated his efforts on fighting mainly heavyweights in an effort to gain a shot at the World Heavyweight title.  On June 19, 1931, Walker relinquished his World Middleweight title, undefeated champion, and spent the remainder of his career fighting heavyweights.

Although a huge size disadvantage that he was usually facing against heavyweights, Walker was successful against his larger foes. His opponents during this time included Leo Lomski, Johnny Risko, Bearcat Wright, King Levinsky, Paulino Uzucdun, Jack Sharkey, and Max Schmeling.  Mickey’s best result as a heavyweight was holding future World Heavyweight champion Jack Sharkey to a 15-round draw on July 22, 1931, but on September 28, 1932 , ‘The Toy Bulldog’ took a shellacking from former World Heavyweight champion, Max Schmeling, and was stopped in 8 rounds.  In this fight, Walker gave one of the gutsiest performances ever seen in modern times, as the much bigger Schmeling countered his attacks with slashing punches that cut Walker over both eyes, and floored him in the 1st, twice in the 8th, and final round.  Even though he gave a brave effort, Walker’s defeat to Schmeling cost him any chance of a shot at the World Heavyweight title.

’The Toy Bulldogs’ final title fight was for the World Light-heavyweight championship, on November 3, 1933, against Maxie Rosenbloom, who out-boxed him for a point’s decision win.  Walker’s battles finally began to catch up with him now, and after the Rosenbloom fight Walker was 12-5-3 in his last 20 fights, eventually retiring after scoring a 2nd round knockout win over Red Bush, on June 22, 1939.  Mickey Walker’s final record was 94(61koes)-19-4.

In his retirement, Walker would go on to have a short career as an actor, a salesman, and opened his own restaurant in New York City. Mickey Walker also found another passion… oil painting, and became almost as dexterous with a brush as he had been with gloves on.  On April 28, 1981, in
Freehold, New Jersey, after suffering, for years, with Parkinson's disease and Arteriosclerosis.


Watch Max Schmeling Vs. Mickey Walker:


 
Copyright © 2016 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to www.theboxingglove.com

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