Sugar Ray Robinson: What we all missed
By Denzel: Joe Echevarria. His name doesn’t ring a bell does it? This is the name of Sugar Ray Robinson’s first professional opponent. After a reported amateur record of 89-0 including 69 of those wins coming by way of knockout (unofficially Ray had 125 amateur fights, some unregistered and went undefeated in all of them), Ray turned professional in 1940 and won his debut by 2nd round TKO. Ray retired in 1965 with a record of 173-19-6 with 2 no-contests and 108 KO’s.
A lot of Sugar Ray’s later fights were videoed, and many of us have watched these tapes mesmerized by the skill, poise, power and speed shown by ‘Sugar’. The thing is when Ray Robinson was in his absolute boxing prime, boxing at lightweight and welterweight,most of his fights weren’t filmed, which is a crying shame!
It is one thing reading about a fight, but to see it is another thing altogether, as I know myself being from the UK, fight times are usually in the small hours of the morning. Many times I have woke up and literally ran to my PC to see the result and read about a fight. When reading you build a mental picture, which is our way of interpreting what somebody else is reporting. Now the mental images you project into your minds eye are exactly that – just mental. There are no actual factual images there.
I find that as a boxing fan, to have a widely recognized ‘pound for pound Greatest of All Time’ whose boxing prime will never be seen absolutely heart breaking. Many times I have watched old tape of Ray Robinson fighting and every single time I watch I am still mesmerized by the sheer class and skill of this guy, every punch he threw was picture perfect, textbook if you will. His left hook is renowned as being one of, if not THE greatest left hook ever thrown, his punching power was remarkable, his combinations seemed effortless, whether just throwing three punches or unloading a fifteen punch salvo at the midriff of his opponent. I can see instantly why many boxing historians label him as the best boxer to lace a pair up, I am in total agreement. Sugar Ray Robinsons skills and legacy will never be questioned, the Hall of Famers he beat include: Henry Armstrong, Kid Gavilan, Carmen Basilio, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano, Gene Fullmer and Fritzie Zivic. It is a mark of his greatness that we didn’t see him box in his prime, and he is STILL regarded as the best boxer in the sport ever.
As another Sugar and All Time Great said “Someone once said there was a comparison between Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson. Believe me, there’s no comparison. Sugar Ray Robinson was the Greatest.” How true.