Sugar Ray Robinson vs Carmen Basilio original 1957 World middleweight title action shot black & white 9" x 7" wirephoto.
23rd September 1957, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York.
Basilio W split decision over 15 rounds.
The Ring Magazine - 1957 fight of the year.
Sugar Ray Robinson vs Carmen Basilio I Highlights
In a career that spanned three decades, Sugar Ray Robinson embodied the essence of the sweet science. He was a World welterweight champion and held the middleweight title five times. Robinson combined an athlete's grace and excellent power and was nearly unbeatable in his prime.
He is considered by many to be the best fighter in history, pound-for-pound. He earned the nickname "Sugar" Ray when a newspaper reporter described him as "sweet as sugar."
Among the fellow Hall of Famers Robinson beat are Henry Armstrong, Kid Gavilan, Carmen Basilio, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano, Gene Fullmer and Fritzie Zivic. Robinson was so efficient for so long that he won his first Fighter of the Year award in 1942 and his second in 1951.
Robinson, whose real name was Walker Smith, turned pro in 1940 and won his first 40 fights before losing to LaMotta. After that defeat, Robinson wouldn't lose for another eight years.
In 1942, he decisioned former champion Zivic and future champion Marty Servo. Then in 1946, in his 76th fight, he decisioned Tommy Bell for the vacant welterweight.
During his reign as a welterweight, Robinson defended his crown with wins over Jimmy Doyle, Chuck Taylor, Bernard Docusen, Gavilan, and Charlie Fusari. In 1951, he challenged LaMotta for the middleweight title in a fight that is remebered as the St. Valentine Day Massacre. Robinson overwhelmed LaMotta with a speed and power and finally stopped him in the 13th round. It was the sixth and final time the Hall of Famers met. Robinson won five of those contests.
In 1951, he was upset by British champion Randy Turpin. In the rematch two months later, Robinson knocked Turpin out in the 10th round. He followed with successful defences against Graziano and Carl "Bobo" Olson before challenging light heavyweight king Joey Maxim.
Robinson and Maxim met at Yankee Stadium in the summer of 1952. The temperature in the ring that night was estimated at 100 degrees. It was the heat, and not Maxim, that overcame Sugar Ray. After the 13th round, he led on all three scorecards but remained on his stool when the bell sounded to begin the 14th.
Robinson retired after the Maxim fight only to return in 1955.
He would win and lose the middleweight title three more times in a series of bouts with Olson, Fullmer and Basilio. He finally retired for good in 1965 at the age of 44. Of Robinson's 19 career defeats, 16 occurred after 1955. Five of them came in his final 15 fights. He fought 18 World champions during his career.
Carmen Basilio two-division champion was one of the most popular fighters or his era. His tough, gritty style not only won him World titles, but it was the heart and desire he displayed in the ring that won him a place in the hearts of 1950s boxing fans, as well as two "Fighter of the Year" honours (1955 and 1957) from the Boxing Writers Association of America.
So it's not surprising that his enduring legacy prompted his fellow townsmen of Canastota, New York, to honor him with a statue more than two decades after he retired which gave them the impetus to found the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
After his Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps, this son of an onion farmer turned pro in 1948. For the first four years, most of his fights were in central or western New York.
A series of three consecutive tough contests, a draw and a loss to Chuck Davey and a loss to Billy Graham, catapulted him to prominence, where he stayed for the remainder of his career.
In 1953, he decisioned former lightweight king Ike Williams and later beat Graham for the New York State welterweight title.
He then defended the title with draw, again against Graham. Basilio's fist World title bout, against Kid Gavilan was a gruelling contest. He dropped Gavilan in the second round. The Kid barely beat the count and recovered to win a 15-round decision.
Undeterred, Basilio continued his quest for a World championship. He went 9-0-2 in his next 11 bouts. In that string, he won rematches with the two opponents he drew with. His dream of winning a World title was realized on June 10, 1955. Before a hometown crowd in nearby Syracuse he went toe-to-toe in a bloody affair with welterweight champ Tony DeMarco. The champ had the best in the early going but Basilio came on strong, dropped DeMarco twice in the 10th round pressed the issue until the referee stepped in and halted the bout in the 12th.
Basilio beat DeMarco in his first defence, but lost a 15-round decision to Johnny Saxton in his next fight. But he regained the title from Saxton in a rematch (KO 9) and stopped him in two rounds in the first defence of his second reign. As 1957 moved on, Basilio set his sights on the middleweight crown and its owner, Sugar Ray Robinson. That bout took place Sept. 23, at Yankee Stadium. Giving away advantages in height and reach, he sustained heavy punishment and a badly cut left eye, and won the title in one of the most action-packed bouts of the decade.
But in the rematch on March 25, the following year, Robinson regained the title in an equally taxing bout. He peppered Basilio's face, which this time succumbed to Robinson's repeated jabs and right crosses. Basilio fought most of the bout with his left eye totally shut. With this dogged pursuit of victory under such conditions he garnered even more respect.
After two wins, he twice unsuccessfully challenged champion Gene Fullmer, who had dethroned Robinson. He was stopped via 14th-round kayo Aug. 28, 1959 and via 12th-round kayo June 29, 1960. He won two more decisions before losing a 15-round decision to middleweight champion Paul Pender on April 22, 1961. Although he left the ring vanquished, it's only fitting that Basilio's last fight was for a World title.
In 1970, Basilio's nephew, Billy Backus, became the second Canastotian to win a World title, when he wrested the welterweight belt from the legendary Jose Napoles. The gregarious Carmen is a frequent visitor to the Hall.