Rocky Marciano KOs Roland LaStarza This Day September 24, 1953 Retains Heavyweight Crown
- Rocky Marciano 185 lbs
- Roland LaStarza 184¾ lbs
- TKO in round 11 of 15
- Polo Grounds, New York, New York
- Referee: Ruby Goldstein 7-3
- Judge: Young Otto 6-4
- Judge: Harold Barnes 5-5
The fight was sanctioned by the International Boxing Club.
Marciano was a 4 to 1 betting favorite.
Life magazine reported: “Trying to knock the challenger out with one punch, the 29-year-old Marciano was over-eager and awkward. He lunged, butted, hit below the belt, on the break and after the bell. Once, he swung so wildly that he missed and slipped clumsily to the canvas. Outboxing the champion and avoiding his blows, LaStarza managed to win four of the first six rounds. In the seventh, Marciano changed his tactics, started aiming at LaStarza’s body as well as his head in an attempt to wear the challenger down. He succeeded.”
The Associated Press reported: “Sliced around both eyes and bleeding from a cut on the bridge of his nose, the well-battered LaStarza took a tremendous beating in the last five rounds before Referee Ruby Goldstein wisely stopped the slaughter.”
The referee took the sixth round away from Marciano for a low blow.
Marciano knocked LaStarza through the ropes and onto the ring apron in the eleventh round.
“I changed my style of fighting in the seventh round,” Marciano said after the fight. “I was behind … So instead of throwing my right so much I concentrated on hooks and combination punches.”
“He’s a great fighter,” LaStarza said in his dressing room after the bout. “He’s definitely a better fighter than when I fought him before—5,000 percent better.”
The fight was named Fight of the Year by The Ring magazine.
A crowd of 44,562 at the Polo Grounds produced a gate $435,817.
45 theaters in 34 cities across America showed the fight on theater television.
Marciano was guaranteed 42½ percent of all revenues. He ended up with about $185,000. LaStarza, who received 17½ percent, got about $65,000.
The New York area was blacked out for theater television, with the nearest telecast at a drive-in theater some 50 miles away in Commack, Long Island.
In Chicago, 12,381 people paid $46,108 to sit in four movie houses to watch the fight on theater television.
In Los Angeles, some 7,000 fans saw the bout in three theaters, but 1,830 got their money back when the picture tube blew out just before the fight started.
In New Orleans, over 3,000 jammed the Saenger Theatre to see the fight. It was the first time an event was televised on a big screen in a New Orleans theater.
Radio station KVAN in Vancouver, Washington, and at least eight other stations, defied an IBC ban against broadcasting more than a “round-by-round” summary of the bout and carried simultaneous recreations backed by canned crowd noises “to make a test of the IBC’s right to dictate how news copy may be used.”