Sugar Ray Robinson wins back belt

Sugar Ray Robinson wins back belt

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On September 12, 1951, former middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson defeats Randy Turpin to win back the belt in front of 61,370 spectators at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Robinson, a New York City native, had lost the belt to Turpin two months prior in Turpin’s native London.

By 1951, Sugar Ray Robinson was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing history. That summer, Robinson traveled to Great Britain for a vacation and publicity tour before his scheduled July 10 bout with Turpin, in which Sugar Ray was heavily favored. To the surprise of his fans around the world, however, the surprisingly strong Turpin battered Robinson and won the match in a 15-round decision. Afterward, Robinson requested and was granted a rematch.

Two months later on September 12, the Polo Grounds set a middleweight fight attendance record for the rematch. The crowd was filled with well-known personalities from U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur to stars of film and stage. Robinson, intent on avenging his loss, trained intensely for the rematch, refusing to once again take his opponent too lightly. From the first ring of the bell, the 31-year-old Robinson dictated the pace of the fight to his 23-year-old opponent, and won each of the first seven rounds decisively. In the eighth round, however, Robinson appeared to tire, and Turpin fought with a new intensity, hitting and hurting Robinson for the first time in the fight. In the ninth round, Turpin delivered numerous right hands to Robinson’s head, opening a cut over his left eye. Still, Robinson was able to wrest back control of the fight in the 10th, when he knocked Turpin down with a right to the jaw. When Turpin was ready to continue, Robinson, re-energized, unleashed an onslaught to his head and body. Two minutes and 52 seconds into the 10th round, referee Rudy Goldstein stopped the fight, and Robinson was showered with adulation from the adoring hometown crowd.

Robinson retired from boxing in 1965 with 110 knockouts to his credit. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1967 and died in 1989.

Sugar Ray Robinson

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Sugar Ray Robinson, byname of Walker Smith, Jr., (born May 3, 1921, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.—died April 12, 1989, Culver City, California), American professional boxer, six times a world champion: once as a welterweight (147 pounds), from 1946 to 1951, and five times as a middleweight (160 pounds), between 1951 and 1960. He is considered by many authorities to have been the best fighter in history.

He won 89 amateur fights without defeat, fighting first under his own name and then as Ray Robinson, using the amateur certificate of another boxer of that name in order to qualify for a bout. He won Golden Gloves titles as a featherweight in 1939 and as a lightweight in 1940.

Robinson won 40 consecutive professional fights before losing to Jake LaMotta in one of their six battles. On December 20, 1946, he won the welterweight championship by defeating Tommy Bell on a 15-round decision. Robinson resigned this title on winning the middleweight championship by a 13-round knockout of LaMotta on February 14, 1951. He lost the 160-pound title to Randy Turpin of England in 1951 and regained it from Turpin later that year. In 1952 he narrowly missed defeating Joey Maxim for the light-heavyweight (175-pound) crown and a few months later retired.

Robinson returned to the ring in 1954, recaptured the middleweight title from Carl (Bobo) Olson in 1955, lost it to and regained it from Gene Fullmer in 1957, yielded it to Carmen Basilio later that year, and for the last time won the 160-pound championship by defeating Basilio in a savage fight in 1958. Paul Pender defeated Robinson to win the title on January 22, 1960, and also won their return fight.

Robinson continued to fight until late 1965, when he was 45 years old. In 201 professional bouts, he had 109 knockouts. He suffered only 19 defeats, most of them when he was past 40. His outstanding ability and flamboyant personality made him a hero of boxing fans throughout the world. In retirement he appeared on television and in motion pictures and formed a youth foundation in 1969.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.

Wins First World Title

Robinson resumed his busy fight schedule in the fall of 1944, and built another win streak, winning five fights before that year was out, nine in 1945 and 16 in 1946. It was in the last fight in 1946 in which Robinson won his first world title. He had run his record to 74-1 by the time the National Boxing Association (the forerunner of the present-day World Boxing Association) granted him a fight against Tommy Bell for the vacant world welterweight championship. Robinson won the fight on a 15-round decision and his days as a champion boxer had begun.

Robinson stayed fit with four non-title bouts early in 1947, then put his title on the line for the first time against Jimmy Doyle on June 24. In what sounds like legend but is actually fact, Robinson dreamed the night before the fight that he would kill Doyle with a left hook. Robinson was shaken by the dream and tried to pull out of the fight, but the promoters called in a Catholic priest to reassure him that his worries were unwarranted and that he must go through with the fight. In the eighth round, just as in the dream, Robinson hit Doyle with a devastating left hook. Doyle was carried from the ring on a stretcher and died the next day without ever regaining consciousness. At the coroner ’ s inquest Robinson was asked if he knew Doyle was hurt, and he replied, as quoted by Carpenter, “ It ’ s my business to keep fighters in trouble when they ’ re hurt. ” Leila Smith later said she believed her son was traumatized throughout his life by the incident.

Robinson did not let the tragedy slow him down, however, and he won five more fights, all by knockout, before the year was over. One was a title defense against Chuck Taylor, and he won five more fights and one more title defense in 1948. He fought 13 times in 1949, gaining 12 wins and a draw — the draw coming in a non-title bout with Henry Brimm — and won his only title defense that year against Kid Gavil á n in Philadelphia. He stepped up the pace in 1950, fighting 19 bouts and winning them all, including a title defense against Charley Fusari.

In 1950 Robinson made another career move, moving up to middleweight and winning the Pennsylvania middleweight title. He defended that title twice, never going to the full middleweight limit of 160 pounds, but hovering around the mid-150s and fighting larger men, something Robinson was never afraid to do. In November and December he held his first tour of Europe, something that sounds odd today when fighters rarely box more than four or five times in a year. He won non-title fights in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany, before setting his sights on the world middleweight title.

To win that prize Robinson needed to reacquaint himself with an old rival. He had already beaten Jake LaMotta four times in five fights, but since they had last fought over five years earlier, LaMotta had gone on to win the NBA middleweight title. Their fight on Valentine ’ s Day, February 14, 1951, was their sixth meeting, but the first in which a crown was at stake. Robinson gradually took control over the first half of the fight, and over the last several rounds he pounded LaMotta with one of the most savage beatings in the history of the sport until the doctor at ringside called for the fight to be halted in the 13th round. Because the fight had been held in Chicago, the boxing writers who were there decreed the fight “ another Valentine ’ s Day Massacre. ” The fight was recreated in the 1980 Martin Scorcese film bio of LaMotta, “ Raging Bull, ” with Robert DeNiro as LaMotta, following Robinson around the ring after the fight ’ s conclusion taunting, “ You never got me down, Ray. You never got me down. ” The win marked the end of Robinson ’ s reign as the welterweight champion, what some have called his prime period, but started a longer career in the middleweight ranks.

Celebrating Black History Month: Sugar Ray Robinson

Often considered the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson ruled over the 147- and 155-pound divisions for two decades and fought six career-defining fights against Jake LaMotta, later immortalized in the Martin Scorsese feature Raging Bull.

Sugar Ray Robinson ducks under a left from Rocky Graziano at Chicago Stadium in 1952.

Robinson, who was born Walker Smith, adopted his new moniker when he borrowed another fighter&rsquos Amateur Athletic Union card for his first fight. He reeled off 40 straight wins to start his career.

LaMotta handed Robinson his first loss in 1943, though it would take nearly another four years for Robinson to earn his first title shot because he wouldn&rsquot cooperate with the Mafia.

After the loss to LaMotta, Robinson went 91 straight fights over nine years without being beaten, the third-longest streak in boxing history, to run his record to 128-1-2. Robinson beat LaMotta five times during that stretch.

He finally lost again in London in July 1951, when he was defeated in 15 rounds by Englishman Randy Turpin. Robinson won a rematch in New York, though, two months later.

It was because of Robinson&rsquos ability to move around weight classes (he even challenged Joey Maxim for the 178-pound title) that boxing writers invented pound-for-pound comparisons.

Because of financial difficulties, Robinson fought long past his time. He retired in 1965 with a record of 173-19-6.

After boxing, Robinson tried his hand at show business, doing some acting in television and film. He died at the age of 67 in Los Angeles on April 12, 1989.

Pro Career

In a career that spanned 25 years, Robinson amassed 175 wins, 110 knockouts and just 19 losses.

Robinson began his career with an astonishing 40 straight victories and was called the "uncrowned champion" by boxing fans on account that the mob, with who Robinson refused to play nice with, denied him the chance to fight for the world welterweight title until after the war. When Robinson finally did get his shot at the belt in 1946, he took home the crown with a unanimous 15-round decision over Tommy Bell Robinson would hold the welterweight title until 1951. Six years later, Robinson captured the middleweight title for the first time by defeating Jake LaMotta. By 1958, he had become the first boxer to win a divisional world championship five times.

Robinson&aposs ability to cross weight classes caused boxing fans and writers to dub him "pound for pound, the best," a sentiment that has not faded over the years. Muhammad Ali liked to call Robinson "the king, the master, my idol." Robinson inspired Ali&aposs famous matador style, which he used to defeat Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title in 1964. In 1984 The Ring magazine placed Robinson No. 1 in its book "The 100 Greatest Boxers of All Time."

Outside of the ring, Robinson relished his celebrity, parading around Harlem with a pink Cadillac and making appearances at his high-profile Harlem nightclub. Wherever he went, he brought a large entourage of trainers, women and family members. Robinson, who was unapologetic for his lavish spending, is estimated to have earned more than $4 million as a fighter, all of which he burned through, forcing him to continue boxing much longer than he should have.

Robinson finally retired from the sport for good in 1965. Two years later, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

March 25, 1958: Robinson vs Basilio II

Sugar Ray Robinson, regarded by many as pound-for-pound the greatest boxer of all time, rarely found himself the underdog, but that’s exactly what he was heading into his return with “The Onion Farmer,” the ever tough and tenacious Carmen Basilio. The previous September, champion Robinson, having regained the middleweight crown in shocking fashion from Gene Fullmer, defended against welterweight titlist Basilio in Yankee Stadium. An epic, hard-fought, fifteen round war was the result with the smaller man taking a close decision. It had been the obvious choice for 1957’s Fight of the Year.

Now they were set for the rematch and the sense was that the almost 37-year-old Robinson, with 148 pro fights to his credit, had to be on the downslide while Basilio, six years younger, a two-time welter champ with big wins over Tony DeMarco and Johnny Saxton, was still in his prime. There appeared little reason to expect the aging Robinson to reverse the outcome of the first battle. The boxing scribes and pundits about the ring in Chicago Stadium that night prepared to wave a fond farewell through the cigar smoke to the peerless Sugar Ray, without question one of the greatest to ever lace up the gloves, a ring legend now ready to step aside and take his place next to such luminaries as Joe Gans, Harry Greb, Benny Leonard, and Joe Louis.

Basilio and Robinson return to their corners after another furious round.

But instead of an ending, Robinson vs Basilio II proved another exciting chapter, not to mention a fresh plot-twist, in the long legend of the Sugarman. Instead of waving goodbye, the boxing tribe could only shake their heads in wonder at both another scintillating, back-and-forth war, and another great triumph for Ray, though it would prove to be one of his last.

From the opening bell Robinson vs Basilio II was a brutal firefight between highly-skilled pugilists who, good sportsmanship aside, didn’t particularly like one another. An aggressive, flat-footed Robinson started fast and worked to impose himself on the smaller man, while Basilio consistently evaded Ray’s jab, getting past it to strike to the body the resulting exchanges in the pocket were prolonged and nothing less than vicious. Basilio’s most potent weapon was a jolting left hook to both body and head Robinson’s was the right uppercut, which he swung with abandon, like an iron clapper in a huge bell.

However, as early as round four the champion’s left eye began to trouble him. Robinson wasted no time taking advantage, opening up and scoring heavily in rounds five and six, by the end of which the optic had shut as tight as a clam. This impairment, as much as anything else, decided the outcome.

“I just couldn’t get my distance right after the eye closed,” Basilio later told reporters. “If you can’t get distance, you find yourself off balance.”

Despite his handicap, the champion conceded nothing and fought back like a cornered wolverine. While Robinson solidified his lead in rounds seven and eight, Basilio surged in the ninth, setting up a pivotal struggle in the next two rounds, the most intense of the battle. The master boxer lacked the energy now to avoid fierce exchanges of power shots and the champion, despite being half blind, began hitting the target more frequently, at times buckling Ray with heavy shots from either hand.

It was a grueling and intense battle all the way, but as they came down the stretch it was Robinson who picked up the pace, outworking his adversary in the final two rounds. Sugar Ray’s aggressiveness sealed the victory by a slim margin, though in fact the referee scored the match for Basilio. The two judges, and most ringsiders, saw Ray getting the better of it in a brutal, back-and-forth war that took plenty out of both men. Indeed, the new champion was so exhausted and hurting that his handlers needed a stretcher to transport him back to his dressing room where he refused entry to the press.

Despite the historic win, it was clear Ray was nearing the end. And yet he refused to quit, going on to compete for another eight years and battling such tough customers as Gene Fullmer, Denny Moyer, Paul Pender and Joey Giardello, among many others. He clearly never wanted to retire and did not until he was 44 years of age and taking losses to B-level competition.

Basilio would later receive three chances to regain the middleweight belt, dropping two losses to Fullmer and one to Pender. Perhaps showing more sense than Robinson, he retired immediately following that third defeat, at the relatively young age of 34.

After the battle: Basilio in his dressing room. Angelo Dundee at left.

No opponent was more significant to Basilio than the great Robinson and despite losing, his performance in their second battle stands among his bravest. Displaying astonishing heart and toughness, he never stopped pressuring Robinson, never stopped slinging leather, despite a significant size disadvantage and a serious injury. Robinson’s performance that night also stands as one of his finest achievements as he regained the middleweight crown for a record-setting fifth time. Both Robinson vs Basilio clashes were magnificently savage wars, contested at the highest level between now legendary champions, and clearly deserve their status as two of the greatest fifteen round struggles in middleweight history. — Michael Carbert

Five bouts between titans and five decisions

Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Jake LaMotta had more sequels – and better drama – than Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies.

Robinson’s first loss in 126 amateur and pro fights came at LaMotta’s hands in their second head-to-head confrontation. LaMotta scored a knockdown in the first round of their first bout only to see Robinson win by unanimous decision, so literally sending him through the ropes in the eighth round of the rematch – Sugar Ray was saved by the bell — four months later in a unanimous decision set up a grudge match just three weeks later.

That third bout saw LaMotta drop Robinson, who was being inducted into the Army the following day, for a nine-count in the seventh round only to lose another decision. They renewed their rivalry two years later in Madison Square Garden, where Robinson scored a unanimous decision.

The fifth matchup between LaMotta and Robinson was easily the most controversial. Fighting in Comiskey Park in Chicago on Sept. 26, 1945, Robinson was awarded a split decision that he called the toughest fight he’d had with LaMotta. Many in attendance were convinced that LaMotta should have been awarded the decision.

After so many matches against each other in a short span, Robinson and LaMotta went their separate ways for more than five years. Robinson continued mowing down opponents and took his first championship belt in December 1946. LaMotta went on a 20-3-1 run to earn his successful title shot against Marcel Cerdan.


Robinson was born Walker Smith Jr. in Ailey, Georgia, to Walker Smith Sr. and Leila Hurst. [9] Robinson was the youngest of three children his eldest sister Marie was born in 1917, and his other sister Evelyn in 1919. His father was a cotton, peanut, and corn farmer in Georgia, who moved the family to Detroit where he initially found work in construction. [9] According to Robinson, Smith Sr. later worked two jobs to support his family—cement mixer and sewer worker. "He had to get up at six in the morning and he'd get home close to midnight. Six days a week. The only day I really saw him was Sunday . I always wanted to be with him more." [10]

His parents separated, and he moved with his mother to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem at the age of twelve. Robinson originally aspired to be a doctor, but after dropping out of DeWitt Clinton High School (in the Bronx) in ninth grade he switched his goal to boxing. [11] When he was 15, he attempted to enter his first boxing tournament but was told he needed to first obtain an AAU membership card. However, he could not procure one until he was eighteen years old. He received his name when he circumvented the AAU's age restriction by borrowing a birth certificate from his friend Ray Robinson. [12] Subsequently told that he was "sweet as sugar" by a lady in the audience at a fight in Watertown, New York, Smith Jr. became known as "Sugar" Ray Robinson. [13] [14]

Robinson idolized Henry Armstrong and Joe Louis as a youth, and actually lived on the same block as Louis in Detroit when Robinson was 11 and Louis was 17. [13] Outside the ring, Robinson got into trouble frequently as a youth, and was involved with a street gang. [13] He married at 16. The couple had one son, Ronnie, and divorced when Robinson was 19. [13] He reportedly finished his amateur career with an 85–0 record with 69 knockouts – 40 coming in the first round, though this has been disputed. [15] He won the New York Golden Gloves featherweight championship in 1939 (def.Louis Valentine points 3), and the New York Golden Gloves lightweight championship in 1940 (def.Andy Nonella KO 2). [12]

Early career Edit

Robinson made his professional debut on October 4, 1940, winning by a second-round stoppage over Joe Echevarria. Robinson fought five more times in 1940, winning each time, with four wins coming by way of knockout. In 1941, he defeated world champion Sammy Angott, future champion Marty Servo and former champion Fritzie Zivic. The Robinson-Angott fight was held above the lightweight limit, since Angott did not want to risk losing his lightweight title. Robinson defeated Zivic in front of 20,551 at Madison Square Garden—one of the largest crowds in the arena to that date. [16] Robinson won the first five rounds, according to Joseph C. Nichols of The New York Times, before Zivic came back to land several punches to Robinson's head in the sixth and seventh rounds. [16] Robinson controlled the next two rounds, and had Zivic in the ninth. After a close tenth round, Robinson was announced as the winner on all three scorecards. [16]

In 1942 Robinson knocked out Zivic in the tenth round in a January rematch. The knockout loss was only the second of Zivic's career in more than 150 fights. [17] Robinson knocked him down in the ninth and tenth rounds before the referee stopped the fight. Zivic and his corner protested the stoppage James P. Dawson of The New York Times stated "[t]hey were criticizing a humane act. The battle had been a slaughter, for want of a more delicate word." [17] Robinson then won four consecutive bouts by knockout, before defeating Servo in a controversial split decision in their May rematch. After winning three more fights, Robinson faced Jake LaMotta, who would become one of his more prominent rivals, for the first time in October. He defeated LaMotta by a unanimous decision, although he failed to get Jake down. Robinson weighed 145 lb (66 kg) compared to 157.5 for LaMotta, but he was able to control the fight from the outside for the entire bout, and actually landed the harder punches during the fight. [18] Robinson then won four more fights, including two against Izzy Jannazzo, from October 19 to December 14. For his performances, Robinson was named "Fighter of the Year". He finished 1942 with a total of 14 wins and no losses.

Robinson built a record of 40–0 before losing for the first time to LaMotta in a 10-round re-match. [19] LaMotta, who had a 16 lb (7.3 kg) weight advantage over Robinson, knocked Robinson out of the ring in the eighth round, and won the fight by decision. The fight took place in Robinson's former home town of Detroit, and attracted a record crowd. [19] After being controlled by Robinson in the early portions of the fight, LaMotta came back to take control in the later rounds. [19] After winning the third LaMotta fight less than three weeks later, Robinson then defeated his childhood idol: former champion Henry Armstrong. Robinson fought Armstrong only because the older man was in need of money. By now Armstrong was an old fighter, and Robinson later stated that he carried the former champion.

On February 27, 1943, Robinson was inducted into the United States Army, where he was again referred to as Walker Smith. [20] Robinson had a 15-month military career. Robinson served with Joe Louis, and the pair went on tours where they performed exhibition bouts in front of US Army troops. Robinson got into trouble several times while in the military. He argued with superiors who he felt were discriminatory against him, and refused to fight exhibitions when he was told African American soldiers were not allowed to watch them. [13] [21] In late March 1944, Robinson was stationed at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, waiting to ship out to Europe, where he was scheduled to perform more exhibition matches. But on March 29, Robinson disappeared from his barracks. When he woke up on April 5 in Fort Jay Hospital on Governor's Island, he had missed his sailing for Europe and was under suspicion of deserting. He himself reported falling down the stairs in his barracks on the 29th, but said that he had complete amnesia, and he could not remember any events from that moment until the 5th. According to his file, a stranger had found him in the street on April 1 and helped him to a hospital. In his examination report, a doctor at Fort Jay concluded that Robinson's version of events was sincere. [22] He was examined by military authorities, who claimed he suffered from a mental deficiency. [23] Robinson was granted an honorable discharge on June 3, 1944. He later wrote that unfair press coverage of the incident had "branded" him as a "deserter". [24] Robinson maintained his close friendship with Louis from their time in military service, and the two went into business together after the war. They planned to start a liquor distribution business in New York City, but were denied a license due to their race. [25]

Besides the loss in the LaMotta rematch, the only other mark on Robinson's record during this period was a 10-round draw against José Basora in 1945.

Welterweight champion Edit

By 1946, Robinson had fought 75 fights to a 73–1–1 record, and beaten every top contender in the welterweight division. However, he refused to cooperate with the Mafia, which controlled much of boxing at the time, and was denied a chance to fight for the welterweight championship. [26] Robinson was finally given a chance to win a title against Tommy Bell on December 20, 1946. Robinson had already beaten Bell once by decision in 1945. The two fought for the title vacated by Servo, who had himself lost twice to Robinson in non-title bouts. In the fight, Robinson, who only a month before had been involved in a 10-round brawl with Artie Levine, was knocked down by Bell. The fight was called a "war", but Robinson was able to pull out a close 15-round decision, winning the vacant World Welterweight title. [27]

In 1948 Robinson fought five times, but only one bout was a title defense. Among the fighters he defeated in those non-title bouts was future world champion Kid Gavilán in a close, controversial 10-round fight. Gavilán hurt Robinson several times in the fight, but Robinson controlled the final rounds with a series of jabs and left hooks. [28] In 1949, he boxed 16 times, but again only defended his title once. In that title fight, a rematch with Gavilán, Robinson again won by decision. The first half of the bout was very close, but Robinson took control in the second half. Gavilán would have to wait two more years to begin his own historic reign as welterweight champion. The only boxer to match Robinson that year was Henry Brimm, who fought him to a 10-round draw in Buffalo.

Robinson fought 19 times in 1950. He successfully defended his welterweight title for the last time against Charley Fusari. Robinson won a lopsided 15-round decision, knocking Fusari down once. Robinson donated all but $1 of his purse for the Fusari fight to cancer research. [29] In 1950 Robinson fought George Costner, who had also taken to calling himself "Sugar" and stated in the weeks leading up to the fight that he was the rightful possessor of the name. "We better touch gloves, because this is the only round", Robinson said as the fighters were introduced at the center of the ring. "Your name ain't Sugar, mine is." [30] Robinson then knocked Costner out in 2 minutes and 49 seconds.

Jimmy Doyle incident Edit

In June 1947, after four non-title bouts, Robinson was scheduled to defend his title for the first time in a bout against Jimmy Doyle. Robinson initially backed out of the fight because he had a dream that he was going to kill Doyle. A priest and a minister convinced him to fight. His dream was proven to be true. [31] On June 25, 1947 Robinson dominated Doyle and scored a decisive knockout in the eighth round that knocked Doyle unconscious and resulted in Doyle's death later that night. [32] Robinson said that the impact of Doyle's death was "very trying". [A]

After his death, criminal charges were threatened against Robinson in Cleveland, up to and including murder, though none actually materialized. After learning of Doyle's intentions of using the bout's money to buy his mother a house, Robinson gave Doyle's mother the money from his next four bouts so she could purchase herself a home, fulfilling her son's intention. [33] [34]

Middleweight champion Edit

It is stated in his autobiography that one of the main considerations for his move up to middleweight was the increasing difficulty he was having in making the 147 lb (67 kg) welterweight weight limit. [35] However, the move up would also prove beneficial financially, as the division then contained some of the biggest names in boxing. Vying for the Pennsylvania state middleweight title in 1950, Robinson defeated Robert Villemain. Later that year, in defense of that crown, he defeated Jose Basora, with whom he had previously drawn. Robinson's 50-second, first-round knockout of Basora set a record that would stand for 38 years. In October 1950, Robinson knocked out Bobo Olson a future middleweight title holder.

On February 14, 1951, Robinson and LaMotta met for the sixth time. The fight would become known as The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Robinson won the undisputed World Middleweight title with a 13th round technical knockout. [36] Robinson outboxed LaMotta for the first 10 rounds, then unleashed a series of savage combinations on LaMotta for three rounds, [13] finally stopping the champion for the first time in their legendary six-bout series—and dealing LaMotta his first legitimate knockout loss in 95 professional bouts. [37] LaMotta had lost by knockout to Billy Fox earlier in his career. However, that fight was later ruled to have been fixed and LaMotta was sanctioned for letting Fox win. That bout, and some of the other bouts in the six-fight Robinson-LaMotta rivalry, was depicted in the Martin Scorsese film Raging Bull. "I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes", LaMotta later said. [14] Robinson won five of his six bouts with LaMotta.

After winning his second world title, he embarked on a European tour which took him all over the Continent. Robinson traveled with his flamingo-pink Cadillac, which caused quite a stir in Paris, [38] and an entourage of 13 people, some included "just for laughs". [39] He was a hero in France due to his recent defeat of LaMotta—the French hated LaMotta for defeating Marcel Cerdan in 1949 and taking his championship belt (Cerdan died in a plane crash en route to a rematch with LaMotta). [13] Robinson met President of France Vincent Auriol at a ceremony attended by France's social upper crust. [40] During his fight in Berlin against Gerhard Hecht, Robinson was disqualified when he knocked his opponent with a punch to the kidney: a punch legal in the US, but not Europe. [32] The fight was later declared a no-contest. In London, Robinson lost the world middleweight title to British boxer Randolph Turpin in a sensational bout. [41] Three months later in a rematch in front of 60,000 fans at the Polo Grounds, [32] he knocked Turpin out in ten rounds to recover the title. In that bout Robinson was leading on the cards but was cut by Turpin. With the fight in jeopardy, Robinson let loose on Turpin, knocking him down, then getting him to the ropes and unleashing a series of punches that caused the referee to stop the bout. [42] Following Robinson's victory, residents of Harlem danced in the streets. [43] In 1951, Robinson was named Ring Magazine's "Fighter of the Year" for the second time. [44]

In 1952 he fought a rematch with Olson, winning by a decision. He next defeated former champion Rocky Graziano by a third-round knockout, then challenged World Light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim. [45] In the Yankee Stadium bout with Maxim, Robinson built a lead on all three judges' scorecards, but the 103 °F (39 °C) temperature in the ring took its toll. [14] The referee, Ruby Goldstein, was the first victim of the heat, and had to be replaced by referee Ray Miller. The fast-moving Robinson was the heat's next victim – at the end of round 13, he collapsed and failed to answer the bell for the next round, [14] suffering the only knockout of his career.

On June 25, 1952, after the Maxim bout, Robinson gave up his title and retired with a record of 131–3–1–1. He began a career in show business, singing and tap dancing. After about three years, the decline of his businesses and the lack of success in his performing career made him decide to return to boxing. He resumed training in 1954.

Comeback Edit

In 1955 Robinson returned to the ring. Although he had been inactive for two and a half years, his work as a dancer kept him in peak physical condition: in his autobiography, Robinson states that in the weeks leading up to his debut for a dancing engagement in France, he ran five miles every morning, and then danced for five hours each night. Robinson even stated that the training he did in his attempts to establish a career as a dancer were harder than any he undertook during his boxing career. [46] He won five fights in 1955, before losing a decision to Ralph 'Tiger' Jones. He bounced back, however, and defeated Rocky Castellani by a split decision, then challenged Bobo Olson for the world middleweight title. He won the middleweight championship for the third time with a second-round knockout—his third victory over Olson. After his comeback performance in 1955, Robinson expected to be named fighter of the year. However, the title went to welterweight Carmen Basilio. Basilio's handlers had lobbied heavily for it on the basis that he had never won the award, and Robinson later described this as the biggest disappointment of his professional career. "I haven't forgotten it to this day, and I never will", Robinson wrote in his autobiography. [47] Robinson and Olson fought for the last time in 1956, and Robinson closed the four-fight series with a fourth-round knockout.

In 1957 Robinson lost his title to Gene Fullmer. Fullmer used his aggressive, forward moving style to control Robinson, and knocked him down in the fight. [48] Robinson, however, noticed that Fullmer was vulnerable to the left hook. Fullmer headed into their May rematch as a 3–1 favorite. [49] In the first two rounds Robinson followed Fullmer around the ring, however in the third round he changed tactics and made Fullmer come to him. [49] At the start of the fourth round Robinson came out on the attack and stunned Fullmer, and when Fullmer returned with his own punches, Robinson traded with him, as opposed to clinching as he had done in their earlier fight. The fight was fairly even after four rounds. [49] But in the fifth, Robinson was able to win the title back for a fourth time by knocking out Fullmer with a lightning fast, powerful left hook. [49] Boxing critics have referred to the left-hook which knocked out Fullmer as "the perfect punch". [50] It marked the first time in 44 career fights that Fullmer had been knocked out, and when someone asked Robinson after the fight how far the left hook had travelled, Robinson replied: "I can't say. But he got the message." [49]

Later that year, he lost his title to Basilio in a rugged 15 round fight in front of 38,000 at Yankee Stadium, [51] but regained it for a record fifth time when he beat Basilio in the rematch. Robinson struggled to make weight, and had to go without food for nearly 20 hours leading up to the bout. He badly damaged Basilio's eye early in the fight, and by the seventh round it was swollen shut. [52] The two judges gave the fight to Robinson by wide margins: 72–64 and 71–64. The referee scored the fight for Basilio 69–64, and was booed loudly by the crowd of 19,000 when his decision was announced. [52] The first fight won the "Fight of the Year" award from The Ring magazine for 1957 and the second fight won the "Fight of the Year" award for 1958.

The 5 Greatest Multi-Division Boxing World Champions In History

In the sport of boxing, boxers compete in weight classes to level the playing field between competitors. You just can&rsquot have one guy outweigh another and call it a fair fight. Weight divisions were created so that only fighters of similar size and build would be able to compete with each other in the ring.

Generally, boxers are expected to compete in their own weight divisions for the majority of their careers. Some champions spend years defending their belts in a single weight class. There are those, however &mdash special athletes with the physical ability to move up and down in weight &mdash who are capable of competing in multiple divisions.

But it&rsquos not for everyone. It takes a very special athlete to be able to cross divisions effectively. For one, a boxer must be able to effectively carry his power as he moves up in weight. At the same time, he also needs to be able to have ample punch resistance as opponents become naturally bigger.

Among the many key characteristics of a boxer&rsquos ability to compete across multiple weight divisions, apart from being simply a rare physical specimen, is supreme skill. The more skill a boxer possesses, the more likely success can be found in different weight classes.

Throughout boxing&rsquos rich history, there are a handful of great examples of special fighters who have been able to move up and down in weight. Today, Evolve Daily shares the five greatest boxing world champions who have won world titles across multiple weight divisions.

5) Manny &ldquoPacman&rdquo Pacquiao

Titles Held: Flyweight (1998), Super Bantamweight (2001), Featherweight (2003), Super Featherweight (2008), Lightweight (2008), Junior Welterweight (2009), Welterweight (2009), Light Middleweight (2010)

Legendary Filipino boxer Manny &ldquoPacman&rdquo Pacquiao is a rare breed of fighter. His ability to move up and down in weight is second to none in the sport. Beginning his championship run by winning his first world title as a flyweight, Pacquiao exhibited nearly two decades of excellence, winning a world title as high up as light middleweight &mdash an impressive feat.

At just 5&rsquo5&rdquo, Pacquiao is a short fighter compared to his opponents, most of which were marginally larger than he was in size. Behind his unparalleled speed and vaunted left straight, however, Pacquiao blazed a trail of destruction, becoming the only boxer in history to win world titles in eight different divisions.

Some count only seven, but his victory over Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003 earned him The Ring Magazine lineal featherweight title, adding to his overall total. All in all, Pacquiao won 11 major world titles in his career and became the only boxer to win lineal championships in five different weight divisions.

4) Floyd &ldquoMoney&rdquo Mayweather Jr.

Titles Held: Super Featherweight (1998), Lightweight (2002), Junior Welterweight (2005), Welterweight (2006), Junior Middleweight (2007)

Self-proclaimed TBE (The Best Ever), Floyd &ldquoMoney&rdquo Mayweather Jr. is one of the most popular boxers in the history of the sport. There is not a soul that follows the sport of boxing who does not know of Mayweather and what he has accomplished in over two decades of excellence.

Mayweather began his fighting career with an Olympic bronze medal in 1996, two years later making his professional debut at super featherweight. Behind his vaunted defensive shell, pinpoint accurate combinations, and unparalleled ring intelligence, Mayweather became a multiple-division world champion.

In 2012, Mayweather defeated Miguel Cotto to win the WBA super welterweight title, in his fifth weight class. Yet Mayweather is more notable for being the richest fighter in history, amassing nearly a billion dollars over the course of his career. His 2015 showdown with the man next on this list earned him close to USD$300 million in a single evening.

3) &ldquoSugar&rdquo Ray Leonard

Titles Held: Welterweight (1979), Junior Middleweight (1981), Middleweight (1987), Super Middleweight (1988), Light Heavyweight (1988)

The great Sugar Ray Leonard won his first world title at the tender young age of 24 and is responsible for a slew of notable moments throughout boxing history.

He competed from 1977 to 1997, winning world championships in five divisions, including the lineal championship in three of those five divisions. At one point, he was the undisputed welterweight champion of the world. Leonard was considered part of the legendary &ldquoFabulous Four&rdquo &mdash a group which included other great names such as Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, and Marvin Hagler.

His most memorable battles came against Duran, twice, a classic showdown with Hearns at welterweight, and a shock victory over Hagler in 1987 wherein he came from a long hiatus to win a world title.

2) Roy Jones Jr.

Titles Held: Middleweight (1993), Super Middleweight (1994), Cruiserweight (2017), Light Heavyweight (1997), Heavyweight (2003)

American boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. was the original pound-for-pound king of boxing. Before there was Floyd Mayweather Jr., Jones lit up the box office, dominating opponents with a unique flair and unrivaled showmanship. Though he is more known to the new generation as a declining fighter who fought way past his prime, the best of Roy Jones is still a beautiful memory in the history of boxing.

Jones&rsquo one-sided destruction of great champions such as Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, Mike McCallum and Virgil Hill will last forever, despite his rapid fall from grace in the latter stages of his career. Moreover, Jones&rsquo ability to move up and down weight classes has seen him win titles in five divisions.

1) &ldquoSugar&rdquo Ray Robinson

Titles Held: Welterweight (1946), Middleweight (1951)

Sugar Ray Robinson is widely considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time. He competed between 1940 and 1965, moving between welterweight and middleweight, winning titles in both divisions. Robinson is well-known for combining pure boxing skill with scintillating one-punch knockout power.

Robinson first won his welterweight world title when he was just 25-years old, defeating Tommy Bell via unanimous decision. Years later, he won the world middleweight title, exhibiting the same fearsome knockout power as a lighter weight fighter. Robinson is the first boxer in history to win a divisional title five times and is also known for his 91-fight win streak between 1943 and 1951 &mdash the third longest streak in boxing history.

Robinson is also credited with being the originator of the modern sports &ldquoentourage&rdquo, conducting himself flamboyantly outside of the ring. ESPN once called him the greatest fighter of all time in an article written in 2007.

If you found this article interesting, here are some others that you may enjoy:

Cerdan vs Robinson

On September 21,1948 Marcel Cerdan defeated Tony Zale and won the Middleweight Championship of the World. Cerdan had made his American debut just two years earlier with a hard fought win over the very tough Georgie Abrams. With the win over Abrams Cerdan proved he was no paper tiger, and he would cement his reputation as the best middleweight in the world with his decisive victory over Zale. He gave the Man of Steel a terrible beating, dropping him with a left to the jaw at the end of the 11th round. Zale had to be helped back to his corner where his seconds decided he had taken enough punishment and ended the fight.

After the Zale fight Marcel returned to Europe where he had a couple of non title fights stopping Dick Turpin and Lucien Krawczyk. He returned to the States to make the first defense of the title against Jake LaMotta on June 6, 1949 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. LaMotta was the top rated middleweight contender and one very tough customer. Never the less, Cerdan was made a two to one betting favorite.

Only fragments of film footage from the fight exists, and these fragments do not include what happened early in the first round of the fight. It was widely reported that LaMotta threw Cerdan to the canvas. Marcel landed on his left shoulder causing an injury serious enough that he was not able to use his left hand for the rest of the fight. Remarkably, Cerdan continued to fight. Sportswriter Red Smith reported:

“In spite of his injury and in spite of a severe beating in the first round … Cerdan won the second round big and the third and fifth by lesser margins. A master at handling his opponent, turning him, tying him up, slipping or blocking his punches, and setting him up, Cerdan could do none of this one-handed. He couldn’t even stick his left out to ward off his foe … it is difficult to believe LaMotta would have a chance with a two-handed Cerdan.”

Fighting Jake LaMotta with two hands would be enough of a problem for any fighter, just ask Sugar Ray Robinson, so standing up to him with one arm was truly remarkable. Unfortunately for Marcel, he just couldn’t keep it up. Cerdan hung in there until the end of the 9th round when his corner stopped the fight.

Because of the circumstances surrounding the end of the fight a rematch was quickly scheduled for September 28th of the same year. Ironically, the bout had to be postponed when LaMotta suffered a shoulder injury while training for the fight. The bout was rescheduled for December 2, 1949. In the meantime, Marcel returned home to Paris.

According to legend, Marcel was booked to travel back to the States via ship, but when he got a call from his paramour, the singer Edith Piaf, asking him to make the trip by plane so he would arrive earlier and they could spend time together before he began serious training, he changed his plans. It has also been rumored that a fortune teller him told him not to fly. If so, Marcel ignored the advice from the seer and on Friday, October 28, 1949 boarded a Lockheed L 749 79 46 Constellation in Paris for the trip to New York City.

After leaving Paris the flight was scheduled to make a stop at Santa Maria, Azores. The flight crew reported into the tower there that they were approaching and traveling at an altitude of 3000 feet.They received their landing instructions and that was the last that was heard from them. The wreckage of the plane was later found on Redondo Mountain, there were no survivors.

Ray Robinson Attending Cerdan’s Funeral

Cerdan’s death was widely mourned and thousands attended his funeral which was held in Morocco where he was laid to rest. Marcel Cerdan was extremely popular on both sides of the Atlantic, and it seemed unbelievable that this larger than life man was no longer alive.

Boxing history was almost certainly changed by this tragedy. Most boxing experts agree Marcel would have regained the title in his rematch with LaMotta. While Jake was a great fighter, Cerdan was just that much better, and there seemed to be little doubt that a Marcel with two good fists would prove too much for the Bronx Bull.

Here’s where it gets interesting. If Cerdan had gone on to regain the crown it would have meant that Sugar Ray Robinson would have faced him and not LaMotta for the title in 1951. This would have been a truly great matchup between two all-time greats. At the time if his death Marcel had a record of 111 wins against only 4 losses. He was only stopped once and that was because of the shoulder injury in the LaMotta fight. If the fight had taken place at the same time as Ray’s bout against LaMotta, Robinson would have entered the ring with a record of 121 wins, 1 loss, and 2 draws. Cerdan had defeated 65 opponents via the knock out route while Ray had stopped 77 foes at that point in his career. In spite of these amazing knockout records I don’t see this bout ending in a stoppage. Both of these fighters had rock solid chins along with great defensive skills. Both fell solidly into the category of boxer/puncher. Cerdan had always campaigned as a middleweight while the majority of Ray’s fight at that time had been in the welterweight division where he also held the world title. For the previous few years Robinson had been successfully testing the middleweight waters where he suffered his only loss to Jake LaMotta. A defeat he would avenge.

I truly believe this is a difficult fight to pick. Cerdan would certainly have to rate as one of, if not the, toughest opponent Robinson would ever face. This had all the makings of a dream match and would have been a major attraction. I could see it breaking records for attendance and gate receipts. It would no doubt have been held in a ballpark.

So, who wins? Well, as with any truly great matchup it is impossible to say with any certainty. I will tell you that Marcel Cerdan had a better chance than LaMotta did of defending the title against Sugar Ray, and it would not have surprised me if he won. It must also be kept in mind how different boxing history may have been if Cerdan had defeated Ray and then gone on to defend the title for a number of years. If that had happened we very well may be calling Marcel Cerdan the pound for pound greatest fighter who ever lived instead of Sugar Ray Robinson. Unfortunately, fate intervened so we will never know.

Watch the video: Fantasy Fights Ep 5: Roy Jones JR vs Sugar Ray Robinson


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