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Best Boxing Blog - This Week in Boxing History

1413 Views 9 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Michael
Hey guys,

My name is Rafael and I'm a contributor at Those of you who might have had a chance to check out our site may know that we reserve one of our posts per week to a historic fight. We try to look at the context in which the fight took place, the characters involved and--crucially--the fight itself and its significance to the sport at large.

The purpose of this thread is to share the weekly TWIBH posts with all of you, so that we can discuss different epochs of boxing, different fighters, maybe remember you of classic fights you may have forgotten about, or even take a look at an obscure boxing event you may have skipped for some reason. Please feel free to provide feedback and to discuss as freely as you like.

Here I'll post only the text of the piece. For pictures, links and even YouTube videos of the fights (when available), you can refer to the original posting at

Without further ado, I present to you this week's piece. If you like it, remember you can always go to BBB to check out more TWIBH pieces from our archive.

TWIBH: August 6, 1970 - Ramos vs. Ramos

What became known as "The Night of the Ramos" happened 42 years ago at the legendary Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles and for those who witnessed this action-filled brawl, it will never be forgotten. The Mando Ramos vs. Sugar Ramos match was to determine the next challenger to face lightweight champion Ismael Laguna who had lifted the title from Mando five months earlier. But the eliminator between Mando and Sugar turned out to be a more than memorable event on its own. It was a bout that showcased both fighters' superlative chins in a thrilling, ten round battle of attrition.

Mando Ramos was not only exciting and talented but also loose and fast, and we're not just talking about how he slung leather in the ring. A sensation on the west coast - he sold out the Olympic in only his ninth pro match - the charismatic Mando liked to fight, liked women, and liked to party, not necessarily in that order. These are appealing characteristics in a celebrity, but they can be detrimental to the development of a young boxer. But Mando - trained by Hall of Famer Jackie McCoy - managed to become the youngest lightweight champion in history despite his excesses outside the ring, and his popularity ensured he could command huge purses. It is said that only Muhammad Ali made more money as a boxer than Mando did in the 1960s.

Ultiminio "Sugar" Ramos contrasted sharply with Mando as a no-nonsense Cuban champion who fled his country after Fidel Castro banned professional boxing. Residing in Mexico City, he fought hard and often, eventually earning a shot at featherweight champion Davey Moore in 1963. He took the title after a brutal war which ended tragically when Sugar decked Moore in round ten and the champion's neck landed awkwardly on the bottom rope. Moore collapsed after the bout and never regained consciousness. Sugar went on to defend his title three times before losing to Vicente Saldivar and moving up to the lightweight division.

Before the fight, many wondered how well Mando's facial features would hold up against Sugar Ramos' sharp punches. Mando had lost the title to Laguna after being badly cut above both eyes, bleeding so profusely that the fight was stopped by his corner in round nine. The other question on people's minds was if Sugar might be too experienced for the young Mando. The Cuban had over 60 professional fights as well as the acumen of trainer Angelo Dundee in his corner.

When the opening bell rang, fans pushed aside all pre-fight questions to enjoy a display of heart, determination, and brutality such as only professional boxing can provide. The first round saw both men engaging in sporadic action before finding their rhythm. By the end of the round it was clear this was to be a fluid and fast-paced battle, free of strategic complexity, between two determined fighters with the utmost respect for one another. As early as round two the intensity of the action had transcended all expectations. During the pre-bout introductions the audience had cheered exuberantly for hometown hero Mando and viciously booed Sugar, but now they indiscriminately cheered action for action's sake. Such is the magic pugilistic mayhem can work.

The fight followed a repeating pattern. Mando had Sugar in trouble in practically every round as one or another of his hard right hands would regularly find the Cuban's jaw, forcing him to give ground. But even as Mando followed up with a barrage of heavy blows, Sugar refused to go down, instead coming back with his own wicked shots.

Should the reader ever find himself in the position of having to explain his love for the spectacle of violence that is boxing, he or she could do worse than refer their puzzled questioner to the seventh round of this bout. As it began, both fighters, to the delight of the crowd, traded punches in ring center until Mando caught his adversary with a crisp left hook-right hand combination and proceeded to bombard Sugar with sharp one-twos. Sugar worked to keep Mando at bay with a hard left jab but as he used zero head movement his chin remained an easy target for Mando's power shots.

But this wouldn't be the round to show to the non-boxing fan if it didn't have an unexpected shift in momentum. Somehow Sugar found the strength to turn the tide as he landed right hooks and then uppercuts to Mando's body before getting home a thunderous right cross that appeared to drain the energy out of the younger fighter. Backing to the ropes, "The Wonder Boy" absorbed a terrible pounding. Incredibly, Mando not only survived Sugar's onslaught but at the end of the round he reversed the momentum once again, connecting with a huge uppercut just before the bell.

And so it went, back and forth, both men giving and taking, even as Mando's left eyebrow became a gory gash, the blood covering half of his face; even as Sugar ate jabs and right-hands like he was starving for them; even as both stumbled and leaned against each other, staggering about the ring in a gory and glorious dance, their weary arms still meting out punishment, those sodden gloves, heavy with sweat and blood, still pummelling each other's exhausted flesh.

The end result was a split decision in favour of Mando in a match he clearly won. Despite Sugar's courageous stand, the younger man remained largely in control of the action and his punches landed more cleanly. But regardless of the outcome, both game warriors earned a place in boxing history that night, by way of an extraordinary exhibition of courage, determination and sportsmanship. That's why "The Night of the Ramos" remains worthy of both remembrance and celebration. -Robert Portis
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Sorry I'm a little late on this one, life gets in the way sometimes.

Original piece with pics, links and video here:

TWIBH: August 10, 1963 - Tiger vs. Fullmer III

It is often the case with dynamic brawlers who rely on physical strength, constant aggression and a seemingly inhuman ability to absorb punishment that, like an engine habitually pushed beyond the red line, their bodies abruptly give out. A slugger who just short years previous possessed the vigour and clout to defeat great champions like Sugar Ray Robinson and Carmen Basilio, suddenly slows, weakens, becomes vulnerable. So it was for Gene Fullmer, who at only 31 years of age, unexpectedly lost his middleweight championship to challenger Dick Tiger in San Francisco and in the process appeared to be a greatly diminished fighter.

That's not to say a warrior as rugged and powerful as Tiger couldn't have competed with a prime Fullmer. Tiger - a two-time middleweight champion who defeated a long list of terrific fighters including Joey Giardello, Rubin Carter, Joey Archer, José Torres and Nino Benvenuti - had the goods to hold his own with virtually any middleweight in history. But it was obvious that the Fullmer who lost to the Nigerian after fifteen one-sided rounds was not the same Fullmer who had recently scored big wins over Robinson and Benny Paret.

He looked a bit better in the rematch four months later in Las Vegas, or at least good enough to salvage a draw, though yet another grueling, 15 round battle did little good for the worn down springs in Fullmer's legs or the fading sharpness of his reflexes. But the draw nicely set up a third bout which became an historic event, the first ever world title match in Africa, more than a decade before the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. Nigeria, a nation reeling from various political upheavals and internal strife, came together as one to cheer on their champion, warring factions, temporarily at least, burying the hatchet.

The only real surprise of the night for American audiences was the enthusiastic reception given the former champion. "Fool-mah! Fool-mah!" chanted the massive throng as the "The Utah Cyclone" made his way to the ring. Evidently, Fullmer's gallant stands against their countryman had made him the second most popular boxer in Nigeria.

The bout itself lacked surprises, though not bruising action, albeit one-way, as Tiger's advantages in strength, power and quickness were immediately apparent. The other non-surprise was to see blood pouring down the side of Fullmer's face. By the end of a brutal fourth round which saw Fullmer's tenderized mug take a sustained beating, the former champion had cuts above and below both eyes, the gash above the right particularly nasty. Tiger pursued his advantage, stalking his man, while Fullmer tried unsuccessfully to box from a distance, forced to adopt a style clearly unnatural to him. By the sixth the match had become a rout. Fullmer had no options; on the outside, jabbing and trying to protect the cuts around his eyes, he kept getting nailed by powerful right hands thanks to Tiger's longer arms. On the inside, the champion pummeled Gene with heavy left hooks.

Spurred on by his countrymen, Tiger dished out a beating in round seven, hammering Fullmer from corner to corner. The challenger never stopped trying, never stopped fighting back, but all could see the contest had been decided. At the bell Gene walked haltingly back to his corner, as if uncertain of the floor beneath him, his expression one of weary resignation. Seconds later his manager signaled surrender. As the referee raised Tiger's hand, joyous pandemonium erupted in Liberty Stadium and fans flooded through the ropes. It took half an hour for police to clear the ring.

"If you have to lose, it's a pleasure to lose to a great fighter, sportsman, and gentleman like Dick Tiger," declared the gracious Fullmer, who was astonished by the tributes and adulation the Nigerian fans bestowed upon him. "There were at least a thousand fans waiting outside to cheer goodbye," he marveled after his return to the United States. The poignant farewell could have been on behalf of the entire sport for Fullmer, clearly one of the best middleweights of his time, never fought again. - Michael Carbert
Original piece with pics, links and video here:

TWIBH: August 18, 1979 - Muhammad vs. Conteh I

Does Matthew Saad Muhammad qualify as a truly "great" fighter? Perhaps not, but strictly in terms of heart, courage and ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, not to mention sheer excitement, few warriors in boxing's history surpass him. His prime was relatively short, but what thrills he gave fight fans while it lasted.

In April of 1979, Muhammad had wrested the WBC light-heavyweight championship from Marvin Johnson in as gutsy and gory a championship fight as boxing had ever seen. He was known then as Matthew Franklin, and his title-winning performance further established his growing reputation as a courageous slugger with an almost super-human ability to absorb punishment before coming back to overwhelm his opponent. He eventually came to be known as "Miracle Matthew."

Four months later, having converted to the Muslim faith and changed his name, Matthew Saad Muhammad set to defend his title against former champion John Conteh of England. If Muhammad had a reputation for durability and excitement, Conteh had one too, both for possessing one of the best left jabs in the division, and for frequent illegal use of his skull. Prior to the match, Muhammad referred with some displeasure to the challenger's tendency to imitate an angry "billy goat," while Conteh pleaded innocence to these charges, claiming he didn't so much intentionally butt people as use what he referred to as "advantageous head placement."

The bout, broadcast live on ABC's Wide World of Sports, only reinforced the public perceptions of both men. The early rounds clearly belonged to the more experienced challenger who started the contest boxing beautifully, snapping in his potent left hand, often doubling and tripling up on it, while deftly avoiding the champion's power punches. Conteh set the terms: a fast-paced and long-range fight, both men throwing plenty of jabs, Muhammad's largely ineffective. At times the champion looked nothing short of amateurish as he missed by two or more feet with wide punches which Conteh easily anticipated and countered. In the third round Conteh started to land right hands and the British fans in Atlantic City's Resorts International cheered and chanted their man on.

But as was often the case with Saad Muhammad, whose ring style involved an unmistakable streak of masochism, some clean shots to his handsome visage were usually required to get him going. In the fourth his advantages in strength and power began to surface and in the fifth he threatened to take control of the fight. His left hook had established itself and now the champion began to shoot the right hand in behind it. Conteh had no choice but to give ground, until the very end of the round when he abruptly charged forward. With his head down.

"Oh, come on!" shouted Muhammad as he recoiled from the clash of craniums and brought an open glove to his left eye, an eye whose brow quickly puffed up and in the next round began to leak blood. Conteh wasted no time seizing his opportunity. With renewed zeal he snapped in his stinging jab, targeting his opponent's wounded eye and battering a stunned champion about the ring. Rounds six and seven were huge for the challenger and it appeared he not only had regained control of the contest but was building up an insurmountable lead on the scorecards.

If appearances were anything to go by as round eight began, Conteh was about to regain the championship. He appeared fresh and confident and was clearly ahead on points, while Muhammad presented a pitiful sight, the left side of his face misshapen, the blood streaming down despite an ugly white glob of petroleum jelly and coagulant on his eyebrow, his once white trunks a butcher's apron. But just when it seemed Muhammad had reached the point of no return proved instead the point when his engine really began to hum. The champion gradually took command as he found the range again for his heavy artillery. Conteh simply lacked the strength to slug it out with the champion.

With the fight deadly close, the last few rounds came down to Conteh's experience vs. Muhammad's power. Round eleven was a toss-up and the twelfth belonged to the challenger, but in the thirteenth Muhammad landed some withering body punches and a huge right hand at its end had Conteh holding on. Since the eighth, the champion had been looking to hit paydirt with the left hook and in the fourteenth, he finally did. Almost two minutes in he missed with a looping right uppercut which effectively acted as a decoy; Conteh never saw the huge hook coming behind it. The punch stunned Conteh and a follow-up left dropped him to his knees. Up at the count of seven, he was battered and sent down a second time. Somehow Conteh beat the count again and, badly dazed, clinched and wrestled his way to the bell.

In the fifteenth and final round of a memorable war, Muhammad maintained his advantage while a desperate Conteh reverted to his "billy goat" self and, perhaps thinking he could somehow force a stoppage if he did more damage with his head, repeatedly attempted to butt the champion. At the final bell Muhammad embraced his opponent somewhat reluctantly. It had been a dramatic, see-saw affair but the knockdowns sealed the unanimous decision for the champion.

However, the end result was undermined by the discovery afterwards that Muhammad's corner had used an illegal coagulant on that wicked cut above his left eye. At different times Conteh had been seen blinking his eyes and he and his corner claimed that the substance in question had impeded the challenger's performance by getting in his eyes and interfering with his vision. The WBC ordered a rematch. Muhammad, enraged by Conteh's illegal tactics and the controversy, met the Britisher again in the exact same location seven months later. The champion dominated this time from the opening bell, knocking Conteh down five times in round four to score a convincing stoppage win, during which he suffered no cuts. - Robert Portis
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