Famous Ring Wars: Sugar Ray Robinson vs Joey Maxim – Pt 1
By John F. McKenna (McJack): On February 5, 1943 after winning 85 fights as an amateur, 69 of those via the KO route, 40 coming in the first round and then winning his first 40 professional fights, Sugar Ray Robinson lost his first fight to “The Bronx Bull” Jake LaMotta.
It was a defeat Robinson would avenge three weeks later. Sugar Ray would then win his next 88 fights in a row before again tasting defeat in 1951. Along the way Robinson picked up the welterweight title and then Jake LaMotta’s middleweight crown.
On July 10, 1951 at the end of his famed “European Tour” Robinson’s unbeaten streak ended when he lost his middleweight title to Britain’s Randy Turpin in London. Turpin became an instant celebrity, but Turpin’s reign as middleweight champion was brief. On September 12, just two months after losing the title Sugar Ray won it back, scoring a ten round TKO in New York City’s Polo Grounds.
After regaining the middleweight title, Robinson decided to move up in class and challenge light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim. Joey was a very good fighter with a rapid fire machine gun like left jab. In fact his ring name Maxim was taken from the Maxim machine gun. In addition to being a good boxer Maxim was strong and had a great deal of endurance. He had won the light heavyweight title on January 24, 1950 with a 10 round KO over popular Englishman Freddie Mills. After the fight three of Mills teeth were found imbedded in Maxim’s left glove. Mills never fought again after his KO loss to Maxim. Maxim also held victories over such notable talents as Jersey Joe Walcott, Jimmy Bivins and up and coming future heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson.
The venue for the Robinson – Maxim fight was Yankee Stadium in New York City. The fight was originally scheduled for June 23, 1952 but was delayed to June 25 due to torrential thunderstorms. As it turned out it was the hottest June 25th in New York City since 1899 with temperatures under the ring lights exceeding 103 degrees. Maxim weighed in at 173 pounds for the fight while Robinson came in at 157 ½ pounds. There were no catch weights in that era of boxing and there were no junior or super divisions.
Robinson used his boxing ability and blazing quick combinations to build up an early lead. Round after round Sugar Ray piled up points and was able to outbox his larger, stronger foe. Maxim however seemed to be pacing himself and utilizing his superior strength for the long haul.
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