An excellent welterweight in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Kaplan defeated two world champions but was never given a title shot.
Birth and Death Dates:
A welterweight in an era of great welterweights, Kaplan began his career in 1935 and fought contender Ralph Zanelli three years later. Although Mike lost a 10-round decision, he faced Cocoa Kid, another top contender, twice in 1939. The first bout, which took place in March, ended in a 10-round draw, but Kaplan won the second bout in a 10-round decision in May (Cocoa Kid lost only 10 of 200 career fights). In January 1940, Kaplan then lost a ten-round decision to Fritzie Zivic, who would become world champ later in the year.
Kaplan remained a top contender despite his loss to Zivic, and fought Freddie Cochrane one month later. Kaplan won an eight-round decision over Cochrane, who would defeat Zivic for the world title in July 1941. In the meantime, Kaplan also defeated Zivic in a rematch in April 1941, but because it was a non-title bout, he did not capture the championship. Despite defeating both Zivic and Cochrane, Kaplan was not given a title shot and his next big fight was against future lightweight champ Bob Montgomery in August 1941. Kaplan lost a 10-round decision to Montgomery but defeated another future lightweight champion, Lew Jenkins in March 1942. Kaplan retired later that year.
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When Boxing Was A Jewish Sport, by Allan Bodner (Connecticut: Praeger, 1997)