Down Goes LaMotta! Down Goes LaMotta!

By The Fight Film Collector on May 15, 2013
Down Goes LaMotta! Down Goes LaMotta!
What makes this bout against Nardico notable is that LaMotta's once granite chin fails him.

A Florida boxing commission doctor was called into the ring and after an examination of LaMotta, his seconds yelled to referee Bill Regan: “That’s all.”

Jake LaMotta vs. Danny Nardico
Coral Gables, Florida, December 31, 1952
16mm Sound Film Transfer
12 Minutes

The Fight and the Knockdown

Nearly two years after the great Jake LaMotta lost his middleweight title to Sugar Ray Robinson in their final epic battle on Feb. 14, 1952, Jake moved up in weight and continued fighting. He lost his light heavyweight debut against Bob Murphy, lost a split decision to Norman Hayes, and drew with Gene Hairston. In his next three fights, LaMotta rematched Hayes, Hairston and Murphy and defeated each of them by unanimous decision.

In this match against light heavyweight contender Danny Nardico (43-4-8 at the time), LaMotta (81-17-4) is still savvy and tough, but with each passing round, he falls further behind.  What makes this bout notable is that Jake’s once granite chin fails him, and LaMotta is suddenly and dramatically knocked down for the first time in his long career.

The Spokesman-Review, in an article titled “Nardico Stops Jake LaMotta in 8th Round,” wrote:

MIAMI, Fla., Dec 31. (AP)—Danny Nardico, a fierce young Tampa, Fla., battler, earned a possible light heavyweight title shot tonight as he beat out an eight-round technical knockout over Jake LaMotta, former middleweight champion, at the Coral Gables coliseum.

A smashing right knocked LaMotta down for the first time in his career in the seventh and when the round ended, the “Bronx bull” was hanging helplessly to the ropes, his eyes glazed, as Nardico beat him with merciless rights and lefts.

Nardico, the aggressor all the way, caught LaMotta with a right as he backed away from a flurry in the middle of the ring. The bull fell back into the ropes, then went down, almost falling out into the crowd.

No Chance

As LaMotta groped his way to his feet, Nardico never gave him a chance to recover. He drove Jake along the rope to a corner and pounded his punches home furiously. As the round ended, Jake, his face bloody and puffed, staggered uncertainly to his corner.

A Florida boxing commission doctor was called into the ring and after an examination of LaMotta, his seconds yelled to referee Bill Regan: “That’s all.”

The Film

The film is in great condition. The ring photography is very good and the action is clear. Despite the pounding that LaMotta takes after the seventh round knockdown, Jake fights with characteristic disdain, holding the rope for support with one hand and punching with the other even as Nardico’s punches wail in.

The Fight Film Collector is a producer and film archivist who has been collecting boxing films for nearly 40 years. He has consulted for Sports Illustrated, provided footage to ESPN and recovered films for the families of retired boxers. He is passionate about the sport of boxing and its history. His blog is He can reached at rotoscope66 at

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Jake LaMotta -vs- Danny Nardico 12/31/52 | "The Knockdown" (16mm Film Transfer)

Discuss this in our forums

Related Articles


This is a place to express and/or debate your boxing views. It is not a place to offend anyone. If we feel comments are offensive, the post will be deleted and continuing offenders will be blocked from the site. Please keep it clean and civil! We want to have fun. We want some salty language and good-natured exchanges. But let's keep our punches above the belt...
  1. Jim Crue 08:49pm, 11/10/2014

    LaMotta still going strong at 92. Thats amazing

  2. bikermike 06:44pm, 11/10/2014

    Jim….you’re absofklutely right…

    bell rang..fight started….bell rung..end of fight…LaMotta wins….

    no snipers in crowd…poisoned bottles…acid on gloves…yhada yada

    ..catch weight match between two superstars of the day…(remind anybody about Marquez-Mayweather??)...made a lot of money..and ...

    Lamotta has a legitimate win over the one…the only ...Sugar Ray Robinson….when Robinson was stillthe real thing….and thatsafknfact

  3. Jim Crue 07:01pm, 11/06/2014

    Jake was a great fighter no doubt. His “legitimate” win over Robinson came when Jake outweighed him by about 16 LBS.

  4. John R Signorino 02:10am, 05/26/2013

    It’s unreal how Jack kept standing, taking hard blow after hard blow. He took hold of the rope to help him stand. Even though he lost this fight, Jack was still ONE TOUGH COOKIE!

  5. Tex Hassler 11:32am, 05/20/2013

    Jake LaMotta was a fighting maching in his prime. If he was in his prime today he would have a easy time becoming the middleweight champion. Jake did not know what the word quit meant.

  6. Michael Hegan 08:04pm, 05/16/2013

    LaMotta was one of those guys who wudda ...cudda…shudda been a certain weight…but time waits for no man.

    LaMotta has a legitimate win over Sugar Ray Robinson…and had to work in an industry where there were many ...many facets ....almost all of which whice were legitimate…......‘cept ...sometimes…by some people….

    This ‘whisper ’ kept being bounced off the back of the tent up to and including Clay Vs Liston…..both times…...maybe not the last….but certainly the most public…

    I can meet you half way about the first Liston Clay outing…but the second one stunk like four day old fish or in laws visiting over the May long weekend….(four days and nights..same house…raining…one bathroom…gedafknpicture

  7. Michael Hegan 07:45pm, 05/16/2013

    Fight Film Collector….

    Your articles are very dedicated to the History of Boxing…with information…notsomuch hype…
    How and where you find the information and footage you do…...just makes me pull a brain muscle…(and damned few to spare)

    Look forward to your next article….as we all do

  8. Michael Hegan 07:40pm, 05/16/2013

    all I got out of this….and it was like diamonds from the dirt…..

    Today’s referees would have stopped this a long way before this match concluded….

    the only reason the raging bull didn’t come out for the next round….was because he had been .....more or less…unconscious for the last two rounds…and certainly for most of that last round.

    When the referee had some ‘imaginary piano tied to his ass…and didn’t stop the match ...for the protection of the fighter/s

    Today…at least in most cases….a sanctioned event will have above average ‘OFFICIATING”...(being they are above average compensated)  The ring is pretty close to square….referee wise….(judges….nnnnyyyaahhh ??)

    No referee of standing…today….would have let a fighter take such punishment for so long…...Jake had to hold on to the top rope for almost the entire last round…
    rumour was….Nardico had to undergo surgery ...for smashing his fists on LaMotta…..Nardico was never the same due to LaMotta’s skull ...taking such defensive ‘post fight counter punches’

    ...still the myth was gone…....LaMotta got knocked down…...(at least once)

  9. Mike Casey 12:28pm, 05/15/2013

    Excellent! Even though Jake was past his prime, it didn’t seem possible that he could be knocked off his feet.

  10. Mike Schmidt 12:13pm, 05/15/2013

    These films are simply superb—first the Dempsey vs rassssler archive and now this—KEEP EM COMING PLEASE AND MORE PLEASE.

Leave a comment