Today marks the anniversary of the death of two legends
By Mark Havey: Few men truly transcend the sport of boxing and become legends. This era of boxing is less likely to produce these icons. We witness numerous champions per weight division. Some champions are given their shot before they really deserve it.
Most champions are not even seen as the best in their weight class. There will be fans that remember a time when the best faced the best and champions feared no one. These days things are different. That is the reason current icons will never be fit to wrap the hands of former greats.
Known as the brown bomber, Joe Louis (69-3-1, KO’s 57) is still remembered amongst the greatest heavyweights of all time. Its recognition that’s entirely deserved. Louis first won the title back in 1937, stopping James Braddock in round 8. Louis made 25 defenses of his Heavyweight title from 1937 to 1948, and was champion for 11 years and 10 months. Both are still records in the heavyweight division. He changed the style in his division forever. The bigger you are the more energy it takes to move. A heavyweights main weapon has always been the same, power. So the bigger guys didn’t tend to move much as they would fatigue earlier. And why put their power punches out of range? Joe Louis saw it differently. If his shots were out of range so were his opponents. He would come into range when he wanted to exchange, not his opponent. His movement wasn’t on the level of Muhammad Ali, but it was heading in that direction. Joe Louis passed away of cardiac arrest on April 12th 1981. RIP.
Sugar Ray Robinson (173-19-6-2, KO’s 108) is widely regarded as the greatest boxer that ever put on a pair of gloves. I agree 100%. The term pound 4 pound is always used in boxing today. What some people don’t know is that the term was created by boxing writers as a way of describing Ray Robinson’s Brilliance. Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Leonard all voted Robinson as the best ever. This view was shared by ring magazine and ESPN. He was so active and such a fearsome puncher. A defensive genius like Floyd Mayweather wouldn’t have been able to keep him away. Manny Pacquiao couldn’t compete with Robinson in terms of aggression. Both would have been destroyed. He is the only boxer I can think of that would be great in any era. His style was the epitome of that of a warrior. It’s difficult to pick his main weapon as his speed and power was equally good. That perfect recipe made him a knockout specialist. Add his iron chin into that mixture and you are left with a fighter that is as close to unbeatable as it can possibly get. But of course Robinson was defeated. His lavish lifestyle forced him to fight much longer than he should have. But even with those loses, his record will not be beaten by anyone in the future. Sugar Ray Robinson passed away from Alzheimer’s on April 12th 1989.
Aside from both being great boxers that share the same date of death, there are other things that link them. They both were good friends for many years. They were both enlisted into the army. Tragically they both died penniless. But true greats like Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson never truly die.
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