Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sugar Ray Robinson's Final Fight: The True Pound-4-Pound King

Fifty years ago today, Sugar Ray Robinson, considered by many as being the greatest fighter, pound-for-pound, to ever enter the ring, had his final fight. Boxing in the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Robinson was beaten on points over 10 rounds by the clever and tough Joey Archer.  But, Robinson’s real opponent that night was father time, and at the age of 44, having what was his 201st professional contest, father time won.

It was to be the final fight of a professional career that had begun a quarter of a century before, in 1940.  Robinson had reigned at welterweight and middleweight, and dominated the sport.  In his prime and even past it, Robinson epitomized just why boxing was sometimes known as the ‘Sweet Science.’  Sugar Ray Robinson had been the sweetest ever, sweet and deadly.  When Robinson lost to Archer, grown men shed tears at ringside, as they watched greatness turn into mortality.  It wasn’t that Archer was a bad fighter, he was a very good boxer, and rated number one middleweight contender in the world at that time, but he wasn’t Sugar Ray Robinson.  No one would ever be Sugar Ray Robinson again.  

In his autobiography "Sugar Ray" written with Dave Anderson, Robinson describes his final match:

"At the final bell, I just wanted to get out of that ring. Disappear.Vanish. But, that was impossible.I knew I had to stay there and wait for the announcement and I always had stayed there when I knew the announcer was going to tell me that I had won. While I was standing in my corner, several dozen people gathered in the aisle below me and stood there applauding and looking up at me. Man, that gave me a feeling. 
After the decision was announced, I was turning to climb through the ropes when I saw Millie. "That's alright Honey," looking up at me with tears in her eyes, "You didn't get hurt!"

She meant physically, inside, I was in agony. I wished I could disappear, but when I got to my dressing room, a strange thing happened. All the sports writers were around me, instead of over in
Archer's dressing room. Television cameras were there too. 
After a few minutes, Archer came over to go on TV with me, imagine the winner coming to the loser. He told me, "Ray you were the greatest Middleweight I ever saw."
He made me feel better. Everybody was trying to cheer me up, but some of them tried too hard. The Ray Robinson of old, I remember somebody said to me. You looked like the Ray Robinson of old.
Man, be serious, I thought. I hadn't been the Ray Robinson
of old. I had been an old Ray Robinson" 

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to www.theboxingglove.com

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