On Saturday night, Philadelphia’s Julian Williams and Jeison Rosario are to meet in a super-welterweight title fight at the Liacouras Center.

One of only a handful of championship bouts to take place here in recent years, Williams-Rosario is a reminder of all the big Philadelphia fights during the sport’s golden era, the 1920s through the 1970s.

Here are 10 of the biggest -- not necessarily best – fights in the history of a great boxing city:

1. Gene Tunney-Jack Dempsey, Sept. 23, 1926

Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney during their famous 1926 boxing match
Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney during their famous 1926 boxing match

When New York refused to issue Dempsey a license, Sesquicentennial Exposition director E.L. Austin invited promoter Tex Rickard to hold it in Philadelphia a week later. The numbers from that rainy Thursday night at Sesquicentennial Stadium tell the story. The crowd of 120,557 and the gate receipts of $1.8 million were both sporting-event records for the first half of the 20th century. Interest was so intense that dozens of special trains ferried fans here from New York. Politicians, actors, and sports stars arrived from across the country. What they saw was that roaring decade’s greatest upset, the crafty Tunney outboxing and outfoxing the brawling, heavily favored champion. A year later, in their controversial “long count” rematch in Chicago, Tunney won again.

2. Rocky Marciano-Jersey Joe Walcott, Sept., 23, 1952

Jersey Joe Walcott swings at Rocky Marciano in 1952. Marciano won this fight.
AP
Jersey Joe Walcott swings at Rocky Marciano in 1952. Marciano won this fight.

According to boxing legend, Walcott’s manager hoped to delay a match with the lethal challenger. But a meeting with mobsters in a Camden bar persuaded him. The 40,379 fans at Municipal Stadium got their money’s worth in this heavyweight title fight that also was aired in 50 theaters nationwide. Camden’s Walcott knocked down Marciano early. Far behind in points, the unbeaten Marciano prevailed by knocking out the 38-year-old champ in the 13th. Promoter Herman Taylor called it the “greatest heavyweight match I ever looked at.”

3. Joe Louis-Gus Dorazio, Feb. 17, 1941

Gus Dorazio is completely out at the end of the count, and referee Irving Kutcher tries to lift him off the floor. Joe Louis disposed of Dorazio in the second round of their scheduled 15-rounder.
AP
Gus Dorazio is completely out at the end of the count, and referee Irving Kutcher tries to lift him off the floor. Joe Louis disposed of Dorazio in the second round of their scheduled 15-rounder.

The only one of heavyweight champion Louis’ 25 title defenses to take place in Philly, it was seen by a sellout crowd of 15,982 at Convention Hall. Louis was in his “Bum of the Month” period, when, with the prospect of war in the air, he scheduled a quick succession of fights with overmatched pugs. Just 17 days before this one, he’d beaten Red Durman. A month afterward, he whipped Abe Simon. When Louis KO’d Dorazio with a short right hand, 1 minute, 30 seconds into the second round, the Philly crowd booed. Dorazio, who’d become a mob enforcer a la the fictional Rocky, went to his grave deluded, insisting he’d have won a rematch.

4. Sugar Ray Robinson-Kid Gavilan, July 11, 1949

This intriguing stylistic matchup -- the smooth, technically brilliant Robinson against the powerful and mercurial Cuban challenger -- lent considerable cachet to this Municipal Stadium welterweight title fight. A crowd of 35,000 erupted often during a spectacular 15-rounder that Robinson won in a unanimous decision. But the 27-year-old champ was impressed, admitting afterward that his 23-year-old challenger had “stung me.”

5. Ike Williams-Bob Montgomery, Aug. 4, 1947

In a meeting of two gifted boxers with local roots, Trenton’s Williams won the lightweight title from Montgomery by stopping the Philadelphian in the sixth round. The much-ballyhooed bout attracted what The Inquirer described as “an electrified crowd of 30,500” to Municipal Stadium. Traffic on South Broad Street was so heavy that police made it one way. The governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey attended, as did such celebrities as band leader Harry James and singer Dinah Shore.

6. Bennie Briscoe-Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Nov. 18, 1975

Eugene "Cyclone" Hart (left) mixes it up with Bennie Briscoe at the Spectrum in 1975.
Eugene "Cyclone" Hart (left) mixes it up with Bennie Briscoe at the Spectrum in 1975.

Two of the best of the North Philly middleweights who dominated the 1970s, Briscoe and Hart had been pointing toward this fight for some time. More than 11,000 fans saw the two battle to a draw at the Spectrum in one of promoter J. Russell Peltz’s most memorable matches. Ring magazine selected Briscoe-Hart as that year’s second-best fight. No. 1? The Thrilla in Manila.

7. Tyrone Everett-Alberto Escalera, Nov. 30, 1976

Just nine days after a low-budget film called Rocky debuted, the largest indoor crowd ever to see a boxing match in Philadelphia – 16,109 – packed the Spectrum for this junior-lightweight title fight. Everett suffered the only loss of his career, a controversial split decision that veteran judge Harold Lederman said “may be history’s worst decision.” A rematch was set for Puerto Rico in June 1977, but on May 26, Everett was shot and killed by his girlfriend in South Philadelphia.

8. Primo Carnera-George Godfrey, June 27, 1930

Remember, we said biggest fights, not best. The exotic, oversize Carnera – “The Ambling Alp” -- was, for a brief time, an enormous attraction, and 35,002 fans crammed Baker Bowl to see him. The prototype for the naive, misused foreign fighter in the film The Harder They Fall, Carnera, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound Italian, had won 17 straight bouts by knockout, although boxing insiders believed many had been fixed. That belief seemed validated that night in Philadelphia when Godfrey, clearly ahead on points, suddenly was disqualified for a low blow in the sixth round.

9. Marvin Hagler–Bennie Briscoe, Aug. 24, 1978

Marvin Hagler (right) firing a right to the head of Philadelphia's Bennie Briscoe during their middleweight bout at the Spectrum. Hagler won the fight on a decision.
AP
Marvin Hagler (right) firing a right to the head of Philadelphia's Bennie Briscoe during their middleweight bout at the Spectrum. Hagler won the fight on a decision.

The biggest non-title fight crowd, 14,530, in the arena’s history filled the Spectrum for this storybook middleweight pairing of an up-and-coming talent (Hagler, 23, the future champion) and a tough but plateaued Philadelphian (Briscoe, 35). Much to the raucous spectators’ disappointment, Hagler dominated in scoring a 10-round unanimous decision that pushed him down the road toward a title shot.

10. Joey Giardello-Sugar Ray Robinson, June 24, 1963

Even though the two middleweights totaled 76 years between them (Philly’s Giardello was 33, Robinson 43), Philadelphians couldn’t wait to see them fight. The official attendance at Convention Hall was 8,590 but by most accounts another 1,000 crashed the gate. Muhammad Ali, still Cassius Clay, sat at ringside, rooting for Robinson, his boyhood idol. Robinson nearly pulled it out with a late surge, but Giardello prevailed, earning a title shot with a narrow but unanimous decision.