Any Doubt “Sugar” Ray Robinson Was P4P No. 1?
By Ken Hissner: The Late Philly trainer Naazim Richardson once said to me, “the greatest pound-for-pound boxer was Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker!” I questioned him and asked, “you never heard of “Sugar” Ray Robinson?”
Richardson added pertaining to Whitaker, 40-4-1, “just think if he wasn’t on drugs!” I contacted an unnamed fellow 1984 Olympic teammate of Whitakers, and he said, “someone always took his piss test after every fight!”
Robinson, who, in my opinion, and many others is that “Sugar” Ray Robinson was pound for pound the greatest boxer of all-time!” The funny thing is he was born Walker Smith, Jr.
After a brilliant amateur career, Robinson won his first 40 fights before losing to Jake “Bronx Bull” LaMotta, 30-5-2, in February of 1943 by a wide margin. He would go on to be unbeaten in his next 91 fights, starting two weeks later when he defeated California Jackie Wilson, 47-4-2, and a week later, some three weeks after losing to LaMotta, he defeated LaMotta.
In July, Robinson defeated who I consider pound for pound the No. 2 greatest in former 3-division world champion Henry “Homicide Hank” Armstrong, 132-17-8.
In December of 1946, Robinson, 73-1-1, won his first world title defeating Tommy Bell, 39-10-3, in a rematch for the National Boxing Association World title. It was just a month before he had one of his toughest fights coming off the canvas after a tough encounter with Artie Levine, 46-9-5, whom he stopped at 2:49 of the tenth and final round.
Robinson and LaMotta fought six times, with Robinson winning five of them. LaMotta said, “I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes.”
In February of 1951, Robinson defeated LaMotta, 78-14-3, by stoppage in the thirteenth round for the world middleweight title. In July of 1951, he lost to Randy Turpin, 40-2-1, in London, UK. Two months later, he stopped Turpin at the Polo Grounds in New York to regain the title.
In June of 1952, Robinson, in an attempt to win his third division world title, lost with the heat at 104 degrees and light heavy champ Joey Maxim, 78-18-4, after thirteen rounds while ahead at that time by scores of 10-3, 9-3-1, and 7-3-3. After this fight, Robinson retired with a 132-3-2 record. In January 1955, he started a comeback.
In May of 1945, Robinson, 54-1, drew with Jose Basora, 54-9-4. In their rematch that wasn’t until August of 1950 for the Pennsylvania State Middle title, Robinson, 111-1-2, had Basora, 77-14-6, down four times, stopping him in the first round.
In January of 1957, Robinson, 140-4-2, lost his middle title to Gene Fullmer, 37-3. Four months later, Robinson won the rematch knocking out Fullmer in five rounds. Four months later, Robinson lost to Carmen Basilio, 51-12-7. Six months later, he re-won the title defeating Basilio.
In January of 1960, Robinson’s 143-6-2 career was about over when he lost back-to-back fights to Paul Pender, 35-5-2, some five months apart.
In November of 1965, in Robinson’s last fight, he came off the canvas to Joey Archer, 44-1, in Pittsburgh, PA. In 201 fights, he ended up with a 174-19-6 record with 109 stoppages, only being stopped once by Maxim.
I could go on and on about Robinson, and am sure the readers will have their share of comments about Robinson and who they thought was, pound-for-pound, the best of all time!
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