An eventful year for Sugar Ray Robinson

If you’ve ever wanted to see how, how, how much the sport of boxing has changed over the years, you could do a lot worse than go back 80 years – to 1942, and watch what the hottest contender/upcoming superstar/guaranteed future world champion was doing. Ray Robinson, soon to be celebrated around the world by the nickname – no, Sugar’s NAME – was special and everyone knew it.

If he was fighting today, Sugar Ray, THE contender for the welterweight crown, would be fighting, what – twice a year? Maybe three times?

But Robinson in 1942? He boxed no less than 14 times. This after a 1941 that saw Robbie box 20 times! Yeah, boxing was a whole different sport, actually a different way of life, in the 1940s. And Ray Robinson was way different than any fighter in today’s era that you would want to mention.

After sending 20 world class guys home with a loss in 1941 – 15 of them being knocked out or arrested – Sugar Ray got busy again in 1942. Fritzie Zivic was beaten, in a rematch, this Robinson’s first fight of ’42, then Maxie Berger was taken over, then Marty Servo, then Sammy Angott, then, in October 1942, Jake LaMotta was highlighted in the first of six wars that Sugar Ray and The Bronx Bull would hire. To top off ’42, Robinson beat Izzy Janazzo twice, with a win over Vic Dellicurti sandwiched in there.

Talk about a busy schedule.

And to think that at the age of 23, Ray Robinson (who had, it must never be forgotten, 85 amateur fights, all wins) was an incredible 44-1 – the only loss against Jake. And after all that, Sugar Ray’s biggest wins, best performances, world title glory; everything was in front of him. Today, the best fighters, the world champions, they have, what, one fight a year, maybe two? Promising suitors have, what, three fights a year, maybe four?

It was so, so different in the Sugar Ray days. He was special. Sport was special. There was only one world champion at each weight. There were only eight weights. The best regularly fought the best; paying fans wouldn’t settle for anything less.

And although the crowd was far too controlling in the 1950s and 1960s, the king of kings, Ray Robinson, bowed to no one. Sugar also didn’t take much of a break between tough fight after tough fight.

And to think that some people dare to suggest that guys like Mayweather, Leonard, Pacquiao, Crawford and others deserve to be put in the same class as Robinson.

Sugar Ray’s accomplishments, compiled during the toughest times for any professional boxer: world welterweight king, five-time middleweight boss; a final record of 174-19-6-2 (109) – more than proving he was and is in a class of his own.

Never be fooled into thinking something different.