The pride of poplar

World Bantamweight Champion 1927

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After two months' rest, Baldock faced Gideon Potteau of Belgium at the Blackpool Football Ground, during August Bank Holiday weekend, before a crowd of over 10,000 When he scored a knockdown in the opening round, Teddy looked set for an early night, but then the effects of the very hard Pattenden fight were clear. Baldock struggled, and it was the eleventh round before the Belgian surrendered.

Meanwhile, Teddy received an offer from America of €2,000, or 17.5 % of the gate receipts, to meet "Panama" Al Brown, for the world title. (This boxer was known in the States by his prefix because another Al Brown was campaigning in the USA at the same time, but in Britain and in Europe the national designation was rarely used.) The fight was set for 17 September, 1929, and Baldock and his party travelled to the States and commenced training. The occasion was then postponed for two weeks, because Brown wasn't ready. Then, with just a few days to go, the lean and lanky black Panamanian asked for another postponement owing to stomach problems. Teddy was continually being messed around, and in the end his patience was exhausted and he returned home.

He was back in action in January, 1930, and beat Emile Pladner of France, who was disqualified in the sixth for a terrible low blow, which left the Poplar boy rolling in agony on the floor. Good victories over Charlie Rowbotham (rsf 11), Lew Pinkus, (points), and Jimmy Docherty (KO 6), followed, but although Teddy had won fourteen in a row, the fights were getting fewer. There were further negotiations for him to meet "Panama" Al Brown, but these fell through when Joe Morris insisted on getting €500 appearance money up front, Clear evidence that Baldock was declining came when he dropped a points decision to Benny Sharkey at Newcastle in September, 1930 Apart from problems with his hands, he was also having difficulty making the bantamweight limit.

Although he agreed to meet Alf Pattenden in a return bout at "The Ring", it was a non-title affair at eight stone twelve pounds. The fight took place on a Sunday afternoon (7 December), and there was not an inch of space to be had in that nostalgic Blackfriars arena. The fans were treated to another stirring contest, but it was never as exciting as their first encounter, because both were effectively washed up. Nevertheless, Baldock won a good fifteen-round decision.

Believing he still had plenty left, Teddy gave up the British bantamweight crown and issued a challenge to featherweight champion Johnny Cuthbert of Sheffield. Although the Board of Control approved the contest, the National Sporting Club officials were keen to match the Poplar man with "Panama" Al Brown. After a great deal of negotiation, the Central American agreed to fight in London, but on condition that it was a non-title affair at nine stone. Brown was a Fine boxer, and a veteran of almost 100 engagements, and several British fighters had failed to beat him. Kid Socks, who in 1924 had given Baldock a great deal of trouble, was knocked out in five by Brown in 1927, while Alf Pattenden (drew 15), Johnny Cuthbert (drew 15), and Harry Corbett (lost on points over 10 and 12 rounds), also failed to beat him. When he came to London to face Baldock, Al had lost just once in his last 48 contests. Teddy, however, was unperturbed, and was so confident of victory that he put up a side-stake of €250.

After warming up with victories over Gideon Potteau (KO 2), and Terence Morgan (points), Baldock faced Brown at Olympia on 21 May, 193I. Incidentally, the Panamanian was one of the all-time freaks of the ring. Although always able to make eight and a half stone, he stood only an inch under six feet. His tremendous reach was decisive throughout the first ten rounds, and he held a wide points lead. Realising that he had to do something special, Teddy threw caution to the wind and went out for a do-or-die battle. It was a fatal mistake, because Brown was a class fighter, and simply stepped up a gear. In the twelfth round, he floored Baldock for counts of eight, eight again, nine, and three before the fight was stopped. At the age of 24, Teddy Baldock was a spent fighter. He had just one more contest, and faced fellow-East Ender Dick Corbett at Clapton on 7 September, 1931.

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