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Clay Knocks Out Henry Cooper in Fifth Round, Fulfills Prediction

June 18, 1963 - Cassius Clay knocked out Henry Cooper in the fifth round tonight in London, England, just as he predicted he would. Clay knocked the stuffing out of the British fighter and might have dropped him at any time from the third round on. But Cassius wanted it to end in the fifth, and he nearly threw away the fight to get it. Clay was on the floor as round four ended. He had been dancing around the ring, hands at his sides, daring a battered, bloody Cooper to hit him. Cooper, his left eye nearly closed and blood pouring down his face and chest, kept lunging desperately, trying to smash the taunting Cassius. Half the time Clay wasn’t even looking. Then, moments before the round ended, it happened. As Clay was gazing off into the distance, Cooper staggered into him and let fly a frantic left hook. The punch came from a long way back, with Cooper lunging forward as hard as he could, putting everything into the blow. It caught Clay on the side of the jaw, and Cassius went over backwards against the ropes. He then got dazedly to his feet, and the round ended. No one heard the bell. Wembley Stadium, packed to the limit of 55,000, was in an uproar. In the fifth, a revived Clay sprang into the center of the ring and laced into Cooper. The first jab snapped Cooper’s head back, opening the eye as a cleaver would and sending a new stream of blood down Cooper’s body. This first jab was followed by what seemed like a hundred others. In 2 minutes 15 seconds, he nearly tore Cooper’s head off his shoulders. Few men have absorbed such a beating in so short a time. Blood was everywhere. People were screaming: “Stop the fight!” At last, referee Tommy Little, the only ring official — according to British rules — stepped in and sent Clay to a neutral corner. Little told Cooper, “The fight’s over, chum.” It was the undefeated Clay’s 19th straight victory.


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