By Ken Hissner: They talk about Saul “Canelo” Alvarez being No. 1. He ran for the last seven rounds of the first Gennadiy Golovkin fight and got a gift draw. A fair draw, and there wouldn’t have been a rematch than what?
Philly’s now deceased trainer once said to me, “the best boxer of all time was Pernell Whitaker!” I replied, “Never heard of “Sugar” Ray Robinson?”
Let’s take a look at Robinson. He lost for the first time after going 40-0 with 28 stoppages to future world champion and IBHOF inductee Jake LaMotta, 30-5-2, in February of 1943, whom he would defeat in their next four fights.
LaMotta would remark, “I fought “Sugar” so many times I thought I had diabetes.”
Robinson won their rematch in his next fight. When he lost his second fight in the UK to European champion Randy Turpin, 40-2-1, he was 129-1-2. In their next fight, he stops Turpin to win the middleweight title.
Previously Robinson was 73-1-1 when he won the welterweight title from Tommy Bell, 39-10-3, in December of 1946. In his fight, prior to meeting Bell, he knocked out tough Artie Levine, 46-9-5.
Some of Robinsons wins were over the likes of future IBHOF inductee Sammy Angott, 60-15-1, Maxie Shapiro, 50-6-2, Marty Servo, 42-0-2, and again at 43-1-2, and back to back over another IBHOF inductee Fritzie Zivic, 111-26-6.
One of his wins was over one of the greatest boxers of all time, Henry “Homicide Hank” Armstrong, 132-17-8. Others like KO1 over “Sugar” George Costner, 70-11-4. In winning the PA middleweight title defeating Robert Villemain, 42-3-1, next fight Charley Fusari, 63-7-1, then a rematch with Jose Basora, 77-14-1, scoring a first round knockout. The same Basora he had drawn with when he was 54-9-4 years before.
Others like Georgie Abrams, 48-6-3, next Jimmy Doyle, 42-6-3, IBHOF inductee and welter champ Kid Gavilan, 46-5-2, again at 53-6-2, Steve Belloise, 90-10-3, future world champ and IBHOF inductee Bobo Olson, 41-3, later at 71-7 and 71-8. Before the last two, he beat Rocky Castellani, 64-8-6. Also, Bobby Dykes, 71-8-6.
In a European tour stopping Jean Stock, 37-11-3, Luc van Dem, 89-12-3, Jean Walzack, 43-17-2, Robert Villemain, 44-4-1, for the second time, and Hans Stretz, 30-2-5, returning to the U.S to stop LaMotta, 78-14-3.
In middleweight title fights, Robinson scored a KO3 over IBHOF inductee Rocky Graziano, 67-8-6, losing to IBHOF inductees Gene Fullmer, 37-3, in a rematch scoring a knockout, another IBHOF inductee losing to Carmen Basilio, 51-12-7, defeating him in the next fight with his record at 141-5-2.
At this time in his career, Robinson was past his peak and ended up at 174-19-6, only losing by stoppage fighting for the light heavyweight title against champion Joe Maxim, when he was 132-2-2, ahead after twelve rounds 10-3, 9-3-1 and 7-3-3, when the heat cost him the fight retiring on his stool due to exhaustion.
Even the referee was replaced in the tenth round. In his next fight, he lost to another IBHOF inductee Archie “Old Mongoose” Moore 133-19-8, six months later for another title bid at light heavyweight.
In Robinson’s final fight, he lost to Joey Archer, 44-1 by decision coming off the canvas though Archer only had eight stoppages then losing his last three fights. He was 44 years old.
All of this followed an amateur record usually listed at 85-0 with 69 knockouts, 40 in the first round. However, Robinson lost a pair in his given name Walker Smith, Jr. There was only one “Sugar” Ray Robinson.