By Ken Hisner: The late Philly trainer Naazim Richardson once told me, “The greatest pound-for-pound boxer is Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker!” I questioned him and asked him, “have you never heard of “Sugar” Ray Robinson?”
Richardson added of Whitaker, 40-4-1, “just imagine if he wasn’t on drugs!” I contacted an anonymous teammate of Whitakers 1984 and he said, “someone always does an anger test after every fight!”
Robinson, who, in my opinion, and many others is “Sugar” Ray Robinson was pound for pound the greatest boxer of all time!” The funny thing is that he was born Walker Smith, Jr.
After a stellar career, Robinson won his first 40 fights before losing to Jake “Bronx Bull” LaMotta, 30-5-2, in February 1943 by a wide margin. He would go on to remain unbeaten in the next 91 fights, which began two weeks later when he beat Californian Jackie Wilson, 47-4-2, and a week later, another three weeks after losing to LaMotta, beat LaMotta.
In July, Robinson defeated what I consider pound for pound the 2nd greatest former 3-division world champion Henry “Kill Hank” Armstrong, 132-17-8.
In December 1946, Robinson, 73-1-1, won his first world title by defeating Tommy Bell, 39-10-3, in a world championship match. It was a month before he had one of his toughest fights coming off the drawing board after he defeated Artie Levine, 46-9-5, who was 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 many times, 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, trying to win his third world title, lost in a heat of 104 degrees to heavyweight Joey Maxim, 78-18-4, after thirteen rounds while who was ahead at that time with 10 points. -3, 9-3-1, and 7-3-3. After that fight, Robinson retired with a record of 132-3-2. In January 1955, he began to return.
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 Central Pennsylvania title, Robinson, 111-1-2, had Basora, 77-14-6, four times, stopping him in the first round.
In January of 1957, Robinson, 140-4-2, lost his middleweight title to Gene Fullmer, 37-3. Four months later, Robinson won the fight by knocking out Fullmer in five rounds. Four months later, Robinson lost to Carmen Basilio, 51-12-7. Six months later, he won the title again defeating Basilio.
In January of 1960, Robinson’s 143-6-2 career nearly ended when he lost back-to-back fights to Paul Pender, 35-5-2, some five months earlier.
In November of 1965, in Robinson’s last fight, he came out of the draw against Joey Archer, 44-1, in Pittsburgh, PA. In 201 fights, he finished with a record of 174-19-6 with 109 stoppages, only being stopped once by Maxim.
I could go on and on about Robinson, and I’m sure readers will have their share of comments about Robinson and who they think is, pound-for-pound, the best of all time!