Famous Ring Wars: Sugar Ray Robinson vs Randy Turpin II “The Rematch”
By John F. McKenna (McJack): In perhaps the greatest moment in the history of British boxing middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson was defeated by the relatively unknown Randy Turpin on July 10, 1951. What made the feat all the more remarkable was that Sugar Ray, who was already a ring legend, had won 90 fights in a row over a nine year period.
The fight took place at Earl’s Court in London, England at the tail end of Robinson’s famed European tour. In the aftermath of Turpin’s stunning victory over Robinson a parade was given in his honor in an open top car through his home town of Leamington.
Fortunately for Sugar Ray there was a return clause in his contract which guaranteed him a return match if he lost. The return match between Sugar Ray Robinson and Randy Turpin took place at the Polo Grounds in New York City on September 12, 1951, just sixty four days after the first fight. 60,000 boxing fans descended on the Polo Grounds to watch the fight.
Many boxing fans at the time thought that the first fight in which Turpin won a hard fought and deserved decision was a fluke and did not expect him to repeat. Turpin was well respected as a fighter and a good ring technician, but was not expected to defeat Robinson again.
Turpin was not the least bit intimidated by Robinson and Robinson himself acknowledged that Randy had been the better man in the 1st fight. Still, after winning 90 fights in a row before his loss to Turpin, it was inconceivable to think Sugar Ray could now lose two fights in a row.
Boxing fans would not have to wait long to realize that the first fight had not been a fluke. Turpin moved coolly around the ring with a clear sense of purpose. Sugar Ray was in the fight of his life and he knew it. He could not afford to lose his 2nd fight in a row to the tough Brit who matched his every move with moves of his own.
It had always been said of Sugar Ray Robinson that he could outbox the punchers and outbox the boxers. He was that good. But this was different. Although he had improved over his 1st performance against Turpin, he could not outpunch or outbox Turpin.
Moving into the 9th round Turpin opened up a nasty and dangerous cut over Robinson’s left eye. The potential was there for an imminent stoppage by the referee or the ring doctor, the cut was that bad.
In the 10th round Robinson with the cut over his left eye worsening, Sugar Ray knew there was only one thing he could do. He immediately went on the attack with a withering assortment of rapid lefts and right. Finally he had the upper hand and scored a knockdown with a savage left, right combination. Randy barely beat the fateful 10 count. Robinson again moved in and rained punch after punch on the brave British warrior. The referee moved in to stop the contest with Turpin helpless against the ropes.
Randy Turpin’s brief reign as middleweight champion was over and Sugar Ray Robinson was again on top of the world.
The victory was especially sweet for Robinson, who had come so close to losing. In the aftermath an emotional Sugar Ray wept tears of joy in his dressing room, demonstrating for all the to see world how important the victory over Turpin was for him.
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