June 25, 1952: Maxim vs Robinson. The Heat KO’s Sugar Ray

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In boxing, as in different avenues of life, it’s potential to be too good to your personal good. Sugar Ray Robinson is regarded by many as the best boxer of all time, however on not less than one event, his immense expertise proved a legal responsibility.

By 1952, Robinson’s place in boxing historical past was greater than safe. He had dominated each the welterweight and middleweight divisions like few earlier than and on the way in which established himself because the best all-round boxer since Benny Leonard. However, like each different nice competitor, Robinson wasn’t happy to simply bask within the glow of common admiration.

Maxim and Robinson clown for the press.

The following mountain to climb was the light-heavyweight division the place Joey Maxim was the present champion. Maxim, whereas competent and succesful, reminded no considered one of Jack Dempsey, though he had Dempsey’s ex-manager, Jack “Doc” Kearns, in his nook. Most combat followers agreed, if Sugar Ray had issues his approach, and dimension and weight didn’t show to be important components, he would add to his already sensible legacy by changing into the primary welterweight champion in boxing historical past to win the world light-heavyweight title.

Held in New York’s Yankee Stadium, Maxim vs Robinson was truly scheduled to happen on June twenty third, however a torrential rainstorm had compelled a postponement. Two days later and as a substitute of being engulfed by a monsoon, New York was scorched by staggering warmth. In actual fact, to today June 25, 1952 stays one of many main contenders for the most popular day ever in New York Metropolis. However a second postponement was out of the query. Regardless of the extreme temperatures, Robinson’s problem for his third divisional title went forward.

And for ten rounds a profitable problem it was. The smaller man was additionally the higher one as Robinson set the tempo and landed way more clear punches. However the smaller man was additionally the one doing many of the work. For starters, Ray used the ring extra, his glorious footwork permitting him to dart out and in, or to gracefully circle away from Maxim. He threw way more punches, and naturally each time they went right into a clinch, Robinson pushed and pulled extra weight, doubtless as a lot as 18 kilos greater than his opponent.

A boxer much less gifted than Robinson may need happy himself with being extra methodical, pacing himself, however Robinson, ever the artist and showman, couldn’t try this. As a substitute of merely piling up the factors, he received rounds with a flourish, dancing in and scoring with sharp combos. As a substitute of taking his time and conserving his vitality, he set a tempo that made his benefits in ability and quickness extra pronounced.

A tiring Robinson finds himself tangled within the ropes.

Thus, because the bout entered the late rounds, Sugar Ray had given a virtuoso efficiency and Maxim wanted a knockout to win. He didn’t rating one; as a substitute the stupendous warmth did. It was so unhealthy, quite a few spectators had already handed out. Within the ring, underneath all of the lights, the temperature soared to 105 levels Fahrenheit. It was as if Maxim and Robinson had been preventing for the title in hell. On the finish of spherical ten the referee collapsed and had to get replaced. And in rounds 11 and 12, Robinson lastly confirmed indicators of exhaustion: shifting much less, lacking extra, having issue sustaining his steadiness, however nonetheless exerting extra vitality than the affected person, plodding Maxim.

Sugar Ray on the canvas after lacking a punch.

As spherical 13 started, Robinson was clearly shedding his equilibrium, and but he by no means altered his ways. Nonetheless utilizing motion and velocity of foot to outbox the champion, his legs failed him and he started lurching across the ring like a drunk at closing time. Close to the tip of the spherical, Ray missed by a mile with a wild proper hand and fell flat on his face. He rose and saved slinging punches although it was apparent now he had nothing left. On the bell, he reeled away from Maxim — his legs buckling, his mouth broad open — and, disoriented, searched in useless for his nook. His trainers bought to him simply as he lastly collapsed and dragged him to his stool.

That was it. The challenger couldn’t proceed and Maxim retained his title. It will be the one time in over 200 skilled fights that Sugar Ray would lose inside the gap. They later weighed Robinson and found he had been drained of 16 kilos in the course of the combat; Maxim had misplaced ten.

At bout’s finish, a delirious Sugar Ray is tended to by the ringside physician.

In his dressing room instantly after, Robinson was delirious. His trainers compelled him underneath a chilly bathe, an motion that will have saved his life, and the spent fighter, babbling incoherently, ended up pulling a number of individuals into the bathe with him. “I’m not loopy,” he shouted. “I’m not loopy! You might assume I’m, however God beat me tonight!”

After all God didn’t beat Robinson that extremely sizzling evening in New York Metropolis. However one might moderately say that, actually, the nice Sugar Ray’s God-given expertise did.    

– Michael Carbert



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