Sunday, April 6, 2014

Remembering...Carmen Basilio

By Peter Silkov

Carmen Basilio was one of the toughest and gamest fighters of his or any other era. He won world titles at two weights, at a time when winning titles at different weights was really an achievement. The fighters that Basilio fought include, Chuck Davey, Billy Graham, Kid Gavilan, Tony Demarco, Johnny Saxton, Gil Turner, Sugar Ray Robinson, Gene Fullmer, and Paul Pender. Basilo was a pure slugger, with an iron jaw and dangerous left hook, who became a huge fan-favourite due to his all-action, crowd-pleasing style. Basilio was one of the classic ‘TV fighters’ of the 1950’s and one of the most popular fighter of his era.

Basilio turned professional in 1948 at the age of 21 and quickly moved up the ranks as his all-action style quickly made him popular with the fans. Basilio’s first chance at a world title came when he faced Kid Gavilan for Gavilan’s World Welterweight title, on September 18, 1953, losing by a close decision on points, after giving Gavilan a terrific contest. After piling up a run of wins throughout 1954 and 1955, Basilio got his second shot at the World Welterweight title on June 10, 1955, winning the title from the rugged Tony Demarco, after a savagely thrilling contest in which both men came close to defeat, before Basilio finally koed Demarco in the 12th round. Five months later, Basilio successfully defended the welterweight title against Demarco, after another classic fight that ended once again in the 12th round. In his second defence of his title however, Basilio was controversially out pointed by Johnny Saxton, on March 14, 1956. The decision caused a huge amount of controversy and suspicion for most who viewed the fight. Six months later, Basilio gained his revenge and regained his World welterweight title, when he knocked out Johnny Saxton in the 9th round, giving him a bad beating in the process.

Basilio defended the title successfully against Saxton five months later, (this time destroying Saxton in 2 rounds.) Then came Carmen’s greatest night. On September 23, 1957, Basilio shocked the boxing world when he won the World Middleweight championship by out-pointing the great Sugar Ray Robinson, in one of the all time modern ring classics. It was a night when Basilio’s toughness and will to win, was just too much for the still sublime skills of Robinson. Six months later, Robinson regained the Middleweight crown by out pointing Basilo after another classic, which saw Basilio hampered for much of the fight by a grotesquely shut right eye.

The Robinson fights seemed to take something out of Carmen, although he had three shots at regaining the World Middleweight title, he was beaten each time. On August 28, 1959, Basilio was stopped in 14 rounds by Gene Fullmer, when trying to win Fullmer’s NBA World Middleweight title (Robinson having been stripped of recognition by the NBA for inactivity). In a rematch ten months later, Fullmer beat Basilio again, this time stopping in him12 rounds.

Carmen’s final fight came on April 22, 1961, when he tried to wrest the World Middleweight title from Paul Pender, and was out pointed. Three days later, Basilio announced his retirement from boxing, with a final record of 56(27koes)-16-7.

April 2, 1927-November 7, 2012

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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