Tony Canzoneri was one of the greatest boxers of all time, who held world titles in three different weight classes: featherweight, lightweight, and junior welterweight. He was known for his speed, skill, and courage, and he fought some of the best fighters of his era, such as Barney Ross, Lou Ambers, and Benny Bass. He was also a popular and respected figure, who was admired by fans and fellow boxers alike. He died at the age of 51, after suffering a heart attack in Manhattan. In this article, we will look at his life, achievements, and cause of death.
Early Career and First World Title
Tony Canzoneri was born on November 6, 1908, in Slidell, Louisiana. He started boxing as an amateur at the age of 16, and turned professional in 1925. He moved to New York City, where he quickly established himself as a rising star in the bantamweight division. He won the National Boxing Association’s version of the bantamweight title in 1927, but lost it in his first defense. He then moved up to the featherweight division, where he challenged Benny Bass for the world title on February 10, 1928. He defeated Bass by a 15-round decision, and became the world featherweight champion.
Two-Division World Champion
Canzoneri did not give up on his quest for glory, and moved up to the lightweight division, where he faced Sammy Mandell for the world title on August 2, 1929. He lost by a 10-round decision, but got another chance when Mandell was knocked out by Al Singer in the first round in 1930. Canzoneri challenged Singer for the title on November 14, 1930, and avenged Mandell by knocking out Singer in the first round as well.
Three-Division World Champion
Canzoneri was not satisfied with two titles, and aimed for a third one in the junior welterweight division. He faced Jack Kid Berg, the world junior welterweight champion, on April 24, 1931, in a historic bout that was the first to be broadcast on national radio. Canzoneri knocked out Berg in the third round, and became the world junior welterweight champion, as well as the first boxer in history to hold two titles simultaneously.
Defending and Losing His Titles
Canzoneri was a busy and dominant champion, who defended his titles against the best challengers of his time. He defended his junior welterweight title three times, and his lightweight title four times, between 1931 and 1933. He also fought in non-title bouts, and faced some of the toughest opponents of his era, such as Billy and Frankie Petrolle, Kid Chocolate, and Battling Battalino. He lost his junior welterweight title to Johnny Jadick by a 15-round decision on February 24, 1932, and failed to regain it in a rematch.
Regaining and Losing His Lightweight Title Again
Canzoneri did not lose hope, and continued to fight for his legacy. When Ross vacated his lightweight title to move up to the welterweight division, a tournament was held to determine his successor. Canzoneri won the tournament by defeating Lou Ambers by a 15-round decision on May 10, 1935, and became the world lightweight champion for the third time. He defended his title once, before losing it to Ambers by a 15-round decision on September 3, 1936. He tried to regain his title from Ambers on May 7, 1937, but lost by another 15-round decision.
Cause of Death and Legacy
Canzoneri retired from boxing on November 1, 1939, after being knocked out by Al Davis in the third round. It was the only knockout loss of his illustrious career, which spanned 14 years and 175 fights. He had a record of 141 wins, 24 losses, and 10 draws, with 44 wins by knockout.
Canzoneri died of a heart attack in Manhattan on December 9, 1959, at the age of 51. He was survived by his wife, Mae, and his son, Tony Jr.
He is remembered as one of the greatest boxers of all time, who achieved unprecedented success in multiple weight divisions. He was inducted into the Ring Magazine Hall of Fame in 1956, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
Tony Canzoneri was a boxing legend, who left a lasting impact on the sport and the fans. He was a champion, a warrior, and a gentleman, who fought with skill, courage, and dignity. He was the pride of Louisiana, the king of New York, and the hero of the world. He was Tony Canzoneri, and he will never be forgotten. .