CLAY VS JOHNSON July 22, 1961 Louisville KY

Fight Recap by:  Shawn Matsko

  Cassius Clay had been the Light Heavyweight Gold Medal winner at the 1960 Olympic Games. He was 7-0 as a pro and had gone 6 rounds one time against his first pro opponent Tunny Hunsaker and 10 rounds one time in his previous fight with Duke Sabedong. His next opponent would be 19-7 Alonzo Johnson and the fight would take place in Clay's home town of Louisville Kentucky. Clay was still green and untested and Johnson was his first high quality foe. Would Alonzo Johnson have too much experience for the budding prospect?

    The fight as I saw it. Scoring in Green IMPORTANT PUNCHES, CUTS, & KNOCKDOWNS IN ALL CAPS.

Round 1- They move toward eachother to see what each has. Johnson works the jab to the body. Clay also works the jab. Clay lands a right. They tie up. Clay lands a left-right.
Clay's Round 10-9

Round 2- Clay misses a left and right. Clay pumps the jab but johnson is able to get under it. Clay lands two jabs. Clay fluries. Clay lands the jab.
Clay's Round 10-9 (20-18) Clay

Round 3- Clay is now throwing right leads. Johnson has Clay cornered & lands a right to the body. Clay still pumping the jab & mixing in an ocasional right.
Clay's Round 10-9 (30-27) Clay

Round 4- Johnson jabs upstairs & downstairs. Johnson becomes more aggressive. Clay throws a left & right. Clay lands jabs and a right. JOHNSON GOES DOWN BUT THE REFEREE RULES NO KNOCKDOWN! Clay landing jabs as the round ends.
Clay's Round 10-9 (40-36) Clay

Round 5- Clay uses footwork and the jab. Johnson's two jabs downstairs fall short. Johnson lands a jab but Clay lands two. Clay fluries again. Johnson lands a light left & right.
Clay's Round 10-9 (50-45) Clay

Round 6- Clay lands two jabs and a right. Clay working the jab and mixing in the hook. Johnson jabs to the body. Johnson lands a right. Johnson begins to land a bit.
Round Even 10-10 (60-55) Clay

Round 7- Johnson starts with a jab to the body. Johnson lands a left to the chin. Clay throws a left-right that lands. Clay working the jab. Clay lands a jab and hook. JOHNSON GOES DOWN AGAIN & THE REFEREE RULES NO KNOCKDOWN!
Clay's Round 10-9 (70-64) Clay

Round 8- Clay jabs & fluries. Johnson falls short with the jab. Johnson lands a second jab. Clay with a one-two. Johnson lands a left to the head. The crowd boos at the end of the round.
Clay's Round 10-9 (80-73) Clay

Round 9- Johnson comes out with a left-right on Clay's arms. Clay with his own left-right. Clay working the hook now. Clay begins to hold a bit at this point.
Clay's Round 10-9 (90-82) Clay

Round 10- Clay Fluries after they touch gloves. Clay working the left hook more than his jab. Clay lands a couple of rights as Johnson is in some trouble. JOHNSON GOES DOWN FOR A THIRD TIME AND AGAIN THE REFEREE RULES NO KNOCKDOWN! That's it for this fight.
Clay's Round 10-9 (100-91 Clay is my decision)

Judges Decision 50-44 Clay
48-45 Clay
48-47 Clay Unanimous Decision Cassius Clay!


  The Scoring of this one was a bit hard to understand. According to the 5-point must system in use in kentucky at the time, It could have been 50-41 for Clay. If you counted three knockdowns along the way making those rounds 5-3, it would have been 50-38 for Cassius Clay. Clay won every round or no less than 9 of the rounds. Where one of the judges got 3 rounds Clay, 2 rounds Johnson, & 5 even who knows! Johnson had done pretty well early in his career. But by the time he fought Clay he was losing more than he was winning. That wouldn't change after this fight either. Clay would go on and as Muhammad Ali be the 8th pro opponent himself for another Olympic Light Heavyweight Gold Medalist some 17 years hence.