Max Schmeling: The Quality of Mercy

By Clarence George on February 5, 2013
Max Schmeling: The Quality of Mercy
Schmeling dropped Walker twice, and rendered his face a "sponge dipped in crimson."

Only when Mickey Walker’s manager Jack Kearns signaled Denning to stop the fight was Schmeling declared the winner by eighth-round TKO…

I was recently entertained by a compilation of great ring stoppages, including Kostya Tszyu’s unfailingly amusing second-round TKO of Zab Judah in 2001. Speaking of Judah, I think the ref was a bit late in stopping his 2011 beat down of Kaizer Mabuza. I don’t at all blame “Super”—a boxer will always keep hitting until the referee tells him to stop. Well, not always…. 

Although not generally considered among the greatest of heavyweight champs, Hall of Famer Max Schmeling’s record is anything but mediocre. He lost 10 times, yes, but he won 56, 40 by KO. A pro for almost a quarter of a century, form 1924 to 1948, Schmeling fought the roughest and toughest of his generation, including Paulino Uzcudun, Jack Sharkey, Young Stribling, and Max Baer. Most notably, the German probably never had to pay for a drink for the remainder of his 99 years, given that he handed Joe Louis his first defeat. He also took on fellow Hall of Fame inductee and one of the best pound-for-pounders in the history of the Sweet Science: Mickey “The Toy Bulldog” Walker. 

Attaining both the world welterweight and middleweight championships didn’t stop Walker from taking on light heavies and heavies. Indeed, during his 16-year career, from 1919 to 1935, the little Irish-American faced the best of four divisions, including Sharkey, Uzcudun, Maxie Rosenbloom, and the underrated Arthur De Kuh, whom the one-of-a-kind Tony Galento kayoed in the fourth, despite having consumed at least 50 hot dogs just prior to the match. Impressive, though Walker stopped De Kuh in the first. In fact, the Toy Bulldog usually won—94 times, 60 by knockout. When he did lose, he was noble in defeat. Well, not exactly noble. After having lost a close decision to Harry Greb, Walker met up with him in a saloon and sucker punched him while he was removing his coat. Let’s say that Walker was always game. And never more so than when he faced Schmeling at the Madison Square Garden Bowl in Long Island City, New York, on September 26, 1932.

Following his defeat of Bearcat Wright, who some say outweighed the Irish-American by 100 pounds, Walker got a crack at Sharkey. The fight ended in a controversial draw—sufficiently remarkable, given that Sharkey had at least 30 pounds on his opponent. Following a win over Primo Carnera, Sharkey decisioned Schmeling, winning the heavyweight title. Or so say the record books— as Schmeling manager Joe Jacobs immortally put it: “We wuz robbed!” Given the consensus that Walker and Schmeling had beaten Sharkey in their respective bouts, the clamor for Max Schmeling vs. Mickey Walker proved irresistible. And, at least for Walker, massively painful.

In what would prove to be his greatest fight, save for his first bout with Louis, Schmeling’s powerful right proved too much for Walker. But not so fast. Yes, the German knocked the gutsy New Jerseyan down in the first round, but Walker rallied “with a series of counter-charges that had Schmeling badly worried,” as Grantland Rice wrote the next morning, “rounds when Walker was all over the Teuton, smothering the invader with savage attack that drove Schmeling around the ring.” Going into the eighth, this “throwback to the old-time school of fighting,” as Rice called Walker (in 1932!), led four rounds to three. As the bell sounded for what turned out to be the final stanza, however, it was clear that Walker had run out of gas, though the needle on his guts gauge was unwaveringly on “F”. Schmeling dropped him twice, closed his eyes, and rendered his face a “sponge dipped in crimson.” Walker threw leather, all right, but he couldn’t see.

The most telling photo of the fight shows Walker on the mat, spectators (some inexcusably without fedoras) mugging for the camera, with Schmeling to his fallen foe’s left—“dropped with the thud of a steel girder tossed from the top of a skyscraper.” The German’s gloved left fist is pointing down at Walker. Perhaps his right, as well, though hidden by his torso. His face is turned to the right, and he’s clearly yelling at the referee, Jack Denning, whom we don’t see. The photo speaks loud and clear. Schmeling is urging the ref to stop the fight, pleading with him to save Walker…and himself. 

Only when Walker manager Jack Kearns signaled Denning to stop the fight was Schmeling declared the winner by eighth-round TKO. “There was nothing else to do,” said Kearns.

That photo…almost 81 years old, etched in hues of gray, depicting a scene far more merciful than brutal.

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  1. Clarence George 07:38pm, 02/17/2013

    Thank you, Norm—the feeling is mutual.

    You’ve convinced me to at least take another look at Baer.

  2. Norm Marcus 06:51pm, 02/17/2013

    Well it wasn’t just Louis that felt that way about Baer as a challenger. In 1940, just months before Baer retired, The Ring Magazine rated Baer as the #1 contender for Joe’s title. In many ways Baer reminds me of Jack Sharkey. You never knew which Jack Sharkey would show up to fight, Well the same can be said of Maxie Baer but for different reasons.
    I think Jimmy Braddock summed up Max pretty well. ” Dynamite puncher.  If he hit you right, he’d knock you out in the third row. In my opinion, the guy was a harder puncher than Louis. Louis was a faster puncher and he hit you with more punches, but Baer was a guy who could hurt you… His ability was, if the guy could have got mad, you know, like guys get in a fight, he’d kill you with a punch, because he HAD killed a couple of guys, and I think that was on his mind.”
    Clarence, this is just my opinion of course, but I think Baer was a very underrated boxer. He was afraid of what he could do to an opponent, so he played the clown. He didn’t apply himself, deliberately. He knew what he was doing. When he forgot and let loose, people died. He never forgot that. In ‘33 when he TKOd Schmeling in the 10th round, he turned to Referee Arthur Donovan and said “Come on Art, stop this!” which Donovan did. One more punch and Herr Max could have been dead. Baer was afraid he would kill Schmeling just as he had killed Frankie Campbell and probably Ernie Schaff too.
    I admit it—I am in awe of Baer. I know the family well, they still live in Livermore, Calif. Max Baer, a kinder, gentler human being you will never find. And that looping over hand right, we will never see the likes of it again.
    Love to argue with you Clarence—you are a worthy opponent!

  3. nicolas 02:45pm, 02/17/2013

    That Walker would cut through the middleweight division like a knife is for me rather difficult to say. First when he did win the title over Tiger Flowers, it was extremely controversial, more so than Tigers two wins over Greb. I would concede that until Sugar Ray there might not have been a better middleweight, but then one could say the same about Flowers and especially Greb. As middleweight, I cannot put Walker in my top ten of all time. While I have Harry Greb as number one, I generally feel that champions overall do get better and you can see this in who I consider the best. I noticed that when Nat Fleischer gave his top ten heavyweights back in 70, he appeared to divide the eras in 20 year periods, from 1892 on. However for the first 20 yrs he had 4 fighters in that top ten, then in descending order 3, 2, 1, with that one being Rocky Marciano. I take thirty years and go the opposite. This is how I do it most of the time. Besides Greb in no particular order, Hopkins, Jones, Toney, Nunn, Monzon, Tiger, Hagler, Robinson, and for those first thirty yrs I debate between Langford and Fitzsimmons. Before people think my list is way off. I would point out that not only did Fleischer not have Ali in his top ten, he didn’t even have Joe Louis in his top 5.

  4. Clarence George 05:32am, 02/17/2013

    Max Baer on a top 10 list is indeed food for thought, Norm.  My initial reaction is…I just don’t see it.  As teachers used to tell my hapless mother:  “He needs to apply himself more.”  That sure as hell was true of Baer.

  5. Norman Marcus 05:11am, 02/17/2013

    Clarence: I ran across a quote by Joe Louis in the NYT in July of 1940. He was asked by a reporter who he considered the leading contender for his title. Louis answered “Baer is the best of the challengers. I’d rather fight Schmeling twice than Baer once. Baer’s got a dangerous punch in both hands, Schmeling only has the one.”
    Food for thought guys. If I was making up a top ten list of heavyweights of all time- Baer would be on my list. I agree with the Brown Bomber! Food for thought?

  6. Clarence George 04:42am, 02/17/2013

    I agree, Tex, especially about Walker cutting through today’s middleweight division like a hot knife through butter, which isn’t to imply that there aren’t some very good ones, such as Martinez and Golovkin…but they ain’t Walker.

  7. Tex Hassler 07:48pm, 02/16/2013

    Max was a real gentleman and a credit to the sport of boxing and the human race. He was a class act. Walker, while not usually called a gentleman,  was a great fighter. He probably would have waked through the middleweight division today with ease.

  8. Clarence George 07:44pm, 02/15/2013

    Thanks for your post, Nicolas.  You make detailed reference to a shamefully neglected period.

    Sullivan and Corbett remind me very much of Dempsey and Tunney.  Even though Tunney beat the former, twice, I rank Dempsey higher.  By the same token, I rank Sullivan higher than Corbett.

    Corbett fought Jackson to a draw, and I think an in-his-prime Sullivan would have beaten him.

    Have never been able to figure out why Jeffries is so ignored.  I have him in my top 15.  Yes, he might have beat Johnson when he was at his best, but he was very foolish to come out of retirement.  Let’s face it, that’s almost always a mistake.

  9. nicolas 07:25pm, 02/15/2013

    Clarence, you have an interesting list here. One of the fighters that I found curious on the list was Sullivan, John L I presume. Even Nat Fleischer back in 1970 did not have him on his list, however he did have Corbett, and it really could be argued that the prime John L would have defeated him. But what then do you think about Peter Jackson, the man that Sullivan refused to fight because he was black? Also kind of surprised in this case that you don’t have Jim Jeffries on the list. I think it was Mr. Casey here on Boxing.com who made a very good case (pardon the pun) for Jeffries being his number one heavyweight, or at least in the top ten. I actually have Jeffries in my top twenty, and feel that his biggest mistake was not feeling he could defend his title against Johnson in 1904, just before he retired. I feel that had he done so, he would have got the victory over Johnson at that time.

  10. Clarence George 10:00am, 02/15/2013

    Here’s my list of top 10 heavyweights, in descending order:  Louis, Ali, Johnson, Marciano, Dempsey, Sullivan, Corbett, Frazier, Tunney, Langford (with Tyson at number 11).

  11. nicolas 07:48am, 02/15/2013

    Just to give you my top ten list of heavyweights in this order: Ali, Lewis, Louis, Holmes, Foreman, Holyfield, Johnson, Tyson, Frazier, Liston. Now having this list, I will put in a pound for pound category, Joe Louis over Lennox Lewis. But for Lewis to fight Louis, it would be like a middleweight fighting a lightweight. For the fighters who had fought best below 200 lbs, it would be in this order, Louis, Holyfield, Marciano, Patterson, Charles, Tunney, Dempsey, Walcott, Moore, Michael Spinks. Having that top ten though, I wonder how Roy Jones and James Toney would do.

  12. nicolas 07:45pm, 02/14/2013

    Good point about Louis Eric. I often feel that Louis’ greatness to us today comes more of his destruction of Max in the second fight than anything else. We can of course only wonder, but I think what was also shown was that the Nazi’s were not so smart when it came to boxing. In I believe a book about the Louis Schmelling encounters, that the Nazi’s were not happy that Max wanted to fight Joe Louis the first time. They felt that he would not have a chance. But when of course he won, they turned it into a great propaganda tool. What they should have done was shown more outrage that Schemeling was not given a fight with Braddock, and when Louis was champ, prevented Max from going to fight Joe in New York, and saying that Louis had to come to Germany for the fight. . There was I believe talk about making Max champion, but being recognized by the IBU. Had Max and Joe Louis never fought a second time, I wonder if fight historians would be now arguing about who was the better fighter. Perhaps Nat Fleisher of Ring Magazine fame, who always felt that Schmelling was underrated, would have had Max ahead of Joe in his all time ratings. Also has Max Kellerman pointed once out, had Marciano been part of that bum of the month club that he had, maybe Marciano would have made Louis pay for that, and put Louis away. However I think overall Louis would have won most of the time over Marciano.

  13. Clarence George 07:06pm, 02/14/2013

    A few comments, Eric, if I may:  First, I rank Louis first, Ali second (despite the fact that more than a few of his fights were forgettable, as was his performance in them), and Marciano fourth.  Second, I’d unhesitatingly pick an at-his-best Louis over an at-his-best Marciano.  Third, while Foreman was a tremendously powerful hitter, he was a mediocre boxer—I’d never have him on the same list as Louis, Ali, and Marciano.

  14. Eric 06:50pm, 02/14/2013

    And now the sport is dominated by Eastern Europeans in the heavier divisions and Mexicans in the later weight classes.  Once the Eastern Europeans started competing “professionally” they’ve really begin to dominate and it makes you wonder how they would’ve fared years ago.

  15. Clarence George 02:28pm, 02/14/2013

    Good points, but….

    Ali was a great pitchman, but much more for himself than for the sport.  Did some boys become boxers because of him?  Yes, that’s true.  But what about revitalized fan interest?  I think it was much more an appreciation of his rhyming than his boxing.  His immense personal popularity spelled M-O-N-E-Y, and attracted Don King and the like.  Sure, boxing was never squeaky clean, but Ali (however inadvertently) paved the way for Bob Arum and the rest of the money-first-boxing-second crowd.

    As for the growth in the number of black fighters:  Boxers have almost always come from the poorest neighborhoods.  That’s why the sport was at one time dominated by the Irish, Italians, and Jews.  As most slums became largely black, the sport became commensurately so.  By sheer numbers alone, black fighters could no longer be denied their prominent place in boxing’s sun.

    By the way, I don’t at all hate Ali, but I never fell under his spell.

  16. Eric 02:19pm, 02/14/2013

    Ali and Louis are routinely it seems always ranked as the top heavyweights of all time. They certainly rank at the top but sometimes you wonder if fighters like Ali or Louis are as overrated as someone like Liston or Marciano are underrated. Louis was floored by fighters like Galento and Buddy Baer. While Galento and Baer were powerful punchers especially the heavy handed Baer, both certainly weren’t great fighters. And of course Louis would be floored four times by Walcott and Schmeling soundly defeated him in their first bout. Ali’s fights with Liston are highly suspect and many think he lost his fight with Doug Jones. And later on when Ali was admittedly past his prime he would be awarded “gift” wins against Jimmy Young and Ken Norton and even struggle with “limited” fighters like Earnie Shavers. Ali would also go the distance with people like Alfredo Evangelista. Also Ali never gave a rematch to Foreman. I’m thinking all that time waiting for Ali would cause Foreman to lose focus and had much to do with his losing to Jimmy Young. Often wonder why someone like Foreman often will be rated routinely near the bottom ten when surely IMO he needs to be ranked higher. Used to think that a prime Louis would destroy Marciano but after seeing films of both in their prime and taking into account how many times Louis was floored, I’m not so sure I pick Louis over Marciano.

  17. nicolas 11:57am, 02/14/2013

    I did not always like Ali’s antics either, I have often watched his fights and hope that I see Frazier prevail in Manila, and Norton get the decision over him in Yankee stadium, unfortunately, the ending is always the same.  however, I don’t know if boxing in the US would have had the revival it did in the 70’s and even 80’s if it had not been for Ali. Around the world, Ali is I feel beyond a doubt the most famous American athlete ever, love him or hate him. My point was also that in the United States that Ali influenced a lot of men to become boxers, whereas now I don’t think that people are influenced by any particular fighter to become one. Also I think the hate that Ali did generate, actually allowed more black fighters to challenge for the heavyweight title than had been before. Is it not ironic, that until Ali, Rocky Marciano had more defenses in his six title defenses against a black contenders than Louis in his 25, and even after Marciano, Floyd Patterson only successfully defended his title against one black fighter in some six successful title defenses. Ali during his first reign had five black fighters out of nine successful title defenses, and Joe Frazier after his fight with Mathis, defended his title successfully nine times, and three against black fighters. While Joe Louis allowed the black man to become a champion, Ali paved the way for a black man to become a challenger, especially when the champion was black.

  18. Clarence George 10:12am, 02/14/2013

    Lewis and Norton have never been, are not, and never will be on my top 10 list.

    I think you’re right that Frazier would have taken the title from Liston, and then lost it to Foreman, but I don’t agree that Ali’s was a positive influence on the sport or the division.  He was a great fighter, but I never found him charismatic, or even entertaining.  His antics and jive were an embarrassment, and were highly detrimental to boxing and its heavyweight class.  The consequences of his tiresome toxicity are still with us today.

  19. nicolas 09:44am, 02/14/2013

    I have Ali number one, Lennox Lewis two, and Joe at three. Just to let you know, at one time I would have had Norton ahead of Marciano, but reading how Norton’s first loss was to Jose Luis Garcia, who he outweighed by some 20 pounds, and with Norton’s problem with big punchers, I think that I would have to give now the edge to Marciano. I think had it not been for Ali, boxing in the US would have declined much quicker. First, I think Joe Frazier would have been the one to beat Sonny LIston for the title. I think that George Foreman would have become champion, but I don’t know about Larry Holmes. I noticed that From Liston to Foreman, those three champions had more southern roots. I think that lot of other black athletes at the time were now seeing other sports like football and basketball as an alternative to boxing, while in the south, there were not yet perhaps the better opportunities that may have been afforded to African Americans in other parts of the country at the time. While the heavyweight division in the US is the lowest it has ever been since probably the mid 1800’s, many are not aware that in the early 70’s, boxing in the other divisions were not American dominated. The only other champion was Bob Foster at Light heavy weight, and when he retired the first time, only the heavy weight division had an American Champion. the US today, actually has nine fighters who could be considered the number one in their division (Don’t forget, Nonito Donaire actually fought amateur in the US) Ali, I feel influenced a lot of people to become boxers, who might not otherwise have become boxers.

  20. Clarence George 03:35am, 02/14/2013

    Nicolas:  Your post is directed to Eric, but you raise a point I’d like to address, if I may.

    While Ali was a much better boxer than Liston (I rank Ali second only to Louis on my heavyweight list), I think Liston had the requisite experience—in combination with his skill and enormous strength—to beat Ali in their championship bout.  Unsatisfactory as it sounds, I just don’t think he made the effort.  Imagine how different the history of the sport in general and of the division in particular would be if Ali had not become champ.

  21. nicolas 11:30pm, 02/13/2013

    ERIC: have to take issue with you on several things here. First the biggest is on Dempsey Wills. Wills, except a disqualification loss to Bill Tate, had not lost a fight since 1917, and had around 50 wins before his loss to Sharkey. He was 36 at the time of the loss, and I guess thinking he was supposed to fight Dempsey, had not fought in about a year, when before he had fought quite often. Don’t forget, Dempsey was actually losing the fight to Sharkey, when Sharkey, thinking he was fouled, made the mistake of looking at the referee and not at Dempsey. I often think a Tunney-Sharkey fight would have been more competetive at the time then the rematch of Tunney-Dempsey, which basically went into folklore because of the long count, and was probably over-exagerated.  I honestly believe, that Tex Rickard was afraid to have a Dempsey-Wills fight because of what had happened with the Johnson-Jeffries fight, and the race riots that followed. Don’t forget, they’re were great race riots in this country in 1919. I really believe that they felt in such a fight that Dempsey would come out on the short end. I’m sure they were not happy with Nat Fleischer, when he put Wills as the number one contender to Dempsey crown in ring magazine. As for my bringing up Marciano-Valdez. I would probably give the edge to the Rock, but for nearly two years, Valdez was number one in Ring Magazine. Did Valdez pull a Alexander Povetkin? I don’t remember hearing about him going after Marciano in the press like Archie Moore did, though I do recall him after a victory in about 58 calling out Floyd Patterson.  Also remember, just because Marciano beats Moore, and Moore beats Valdez, does’nt mean that Valdez doesn’t beat Marciano, though I do have Marciano ranked higher than Valdez at least in my all time heavyweight rankings. As for Sonny LIston. Eric, the weights you quote I believe were during the time when he beat Patterson. He fought one fight a year before Ali for three straight years, with each being a one round knockout. I believe that before Ali, in something like 4 years he fought a total of 6 rounds. As Emanuel Stewart once said, Ali would have found the 1959-60 Sonny LIston much more difficult to fight.

  22. Clarence George 02:09pm, 02/13/2013

    Interesting comparison, Eric, between Wills and Valdez, and it serves to make a valid point.  Gotta say, though, that I’d rank Wills higher than the Cuban.  Also, I’d be more interested in seeing Dempsey-Wills than Marciano-Valdez.  Of course, Dempsey vs. Sam Langford would have been the best.

    And I completely agree that Marciano was incomparably superior to Valdez.

  23. Eric 01:23pm, 02/13/2013

    Marciano vs Valdez is very much like Dempsey vs Wills IMO. Marciano knockouts Valdez and Dempsey does the same to Wills. Archie Moore at 5’ 11” was essentially the same size as Marciano although Marciano was the naturally heavier man. We all saw that later on in the case of Wills that he would be defeated rather soundly by Jack Sharkey. Although this wasn’t a peak Wills we can still make a pretty good judgement on what would’ve happened had he met the Manassa Mauler in a prime vs prime matchup. While some might overrate Marciano because of the 49-0 record he is also many times underrated because of his size. Marciano wasn’t a shrimp and probably if he trained like most heavyweights would’ve fought at about 195-200lbs and still be in reasonable trim. Guarantee if Liston had trained as hard as Marciano he would’ve weighed about 202-205lbs instead of 214-218. And Valdez isn’t even in Marciano’s league no matter how big he was.

  24. Clarence George 04:32am, 02/13/2013

    Thanks, Nicolas, but the source seems a bit suspect, as you yourself recognize.  Rocky Marciano wasn’t a dirty fighter.  Even if he were, he wouldn’t have needed to employ such tactics to defeat Don Cockell.

    Would Marciano vs. Nino Valdez been a good fight?  Quite possibly, but…I just don’t feel the lack.  And I’m not convinced it would have proved anything.

    Good point about Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson.  One could argue, though, that Patterson was never more than a jumped-up light heavy, even by the standards of his day.

    By the way, Marciano would have lost to an in-his-prime Joe Louis.  I consider Louis the greatest heavyweight of all time.

  25. nicolas 10:33pm, 02/12/2013

    Just thought I would let you know where I first heard about that Marciano ducked Valdez. In a book called Boxing Greats, on The chapter on the ROCK, first paragraph it reads ‘Marciano never took risks as champion. He beat the right men, at the right time and at the right weight. Also it claims he was a dirty fighter. This book was written by Steve Bunce and Bob Mee, both Brtiish. I think the Brits have a real dislike for Marciano from his fight with Don Cockell, and the American Referee who suposably allowed Marciano to get away with dirty tactics, though, as cornerman, I would have advised Don to do the same thing. Even in 89, when I was talking to an Englishmen, he mentioned that Marciano had used illegal tactics. The best fighter that Rocky ever beat who was over 200 pounds was of course Joe Louis, still a formidable opponent at 37 (Walcott was older). I just think that Marciano had he fought Valdez, who was six foot three and 208 pounds or so, we could better gage how Marciano would have fared some 20 or 30 yrs later, or even against Sonny Liston.  I think the real change in the heavyweight division was Liston-Paterson, with the big weight differential. I agree with you on Joe Frazier over Liston, but that could have been 2 out of three fights, perhaps something like Listons loss to Leotis Martin in the late 60’s.

  26. Clarence George 06:40pm, 02/11/2013

    The middleweight division has almost always been exceptionally rich—Stanley Ketchel, Marcel Cerdan, Carlos Monzon, Marvelous Marvin Hagler….  And one of my favorites, Laszlo Papp, cheated out of his shot at the title.

    Walker vs. LaMotta—a tough call, but I think you’re right.

  27. Eric 04:07pm, 02/11/2013

    Greb-Walker-Flowers, all three could hold their own in any era against fellow middleweights. Walker vs LaMotta, would have been an excellent middleweight matchup. I’ll take Walker by decision.

  28. Clarence George 02:31pm, 02/11/2013

    Thanks for your excellent post, Eric.

    I fully concur regarding Marciano’s almost superhuman strength.  Joe Louis said something along the lines that you hurt yourself just by bumping into him.  And contemplate—with a shudder—what Rocky did to Carmine Vingo, Roland LaStarza, and Rex Layne.  I think he would have done much the same to Liston (assuming he was at his best), which is not to imply that he would have found it easy or pleasant.

    Your point about Foreman-Frazier is well taken.  And yet I think Smokin’ Joe would have won out over Liston, who had no experience with someone of that relentlessness, strength, and phenomenal left hook.  But, again, a competitive fight.

  29. Eric 01:16pm, 02/11/2013

    Rocky Marciano is my favorite heavyweight fighter of all-time, but to be brutally honest, he was very lucky to come along at the right time. Is he one of the all-time greats? I think so.  However, styles make fights and Liston was all wrong for Marciano. Liston would’ve have dismantled Marciano and Frazier in brutal short slugfests while they lasted MOST LIKELY.  While Marciano is 20lbs lighter than Frazier, he hits harder, is stronger,  has a better chin and puts up a better fight against Liston than Frazier. Marciano was lucky enough to come along when most of the top heavyweights were aging or under 200lbs.  The 185lb Marciano wasn’t your run of the mill 185 pounder and trained down to that weight by following an unbelievable training program. Marciano, probably could’ve fought at a weight of about 195lbs but he purposedly trained down to his lightest weight possible. I can envision Marciano catching the larger Liston with one of his patented “blockbusters” but I think LIston takes it in the end. I see the Marciano-Liston matchup as more competitive than the Liston-Frazier matchup and do think Rocky would have his moments. Marciano was an INCREDIBLY STRONG AND POWERFUL 185 pounder and didn’t carry an ounce of fat on his body. If the Rock could survive the early going he would absolutely destroy a weary Liston in the middle or late rounds, however. for Liston-Frazier predictions , see Foreman-Frazier.

  30. Clarence George 06:51am, 02/11/2013

    Thanks, Jethro.

    Agree that Marciano, like Gene Tunney, knew exactly when to hang up the gloves.  But I don’t agree that, in his prime, he would have lost to Liston.  Marciano vs. Schmeling would probably have been a good fight, with Marciano the winner.

  31. Jethro Tull 04:30am, 02/11/2013

    First of all, interesting story about Walker and Schmeling.

    As for the question ‘I often wondered how far Marciano could have gone’, the answer is ‘no further at all’ because Marciano’s heart wasn’t in it.

    The fact is that short, tank-like swarming heavyweights have a limited shelf-life and Marciano was wise enough to know that he was getting old in boxing terms and quit while he was ahead.

    Very few world champions have done that and even fewer heavyweight champions.

    As for Liston vs Marciano? No contest. A big heavyweight with fists that often cut his opponents against a small cut-prone cruiserweight.

    Marciano vs Schmeling would be a good contest though, since a match-up like that is comparing like with like.

  32. Clarence George 04:05am, 02/11/2013

    You make a strong argument, Nicolas, I won’t deny it. 

    Did Valdez earn a shot at the title?  Let’s say he did, for the sake of the discussion.  But was he cheated out of that opportunity?  Hmmm, I won’t go that far.  If a decision to offer a fighter a bite at the championship apple can pretty much go either way, and he doesn’t get it for one or more legitimate reasons, is he being cheated?  I don’t think so.  He’s disappointed, sure, but that’s not the same thing.

  33. nicolas 10:02pm, 02/10/2013

    Clarence, you are correct Valdez did have a spotty record. However, lets look at this. He was number one contender for the heavy weight title until he met Archie Moore in Nevada, and Moore barely beat him by 15 round decision, only the referee James Bradock scored. Also if that had been a twelve round fight it might actually have gone to Valdez, but Nevada decided to make it a world heavy weight championship fight and be recognized by Nevada. He beats Ezzard Charles, Charles looses again to Harold Johnson, and then Charles wins two straight and not only gets the title shot against Marciano, but a rematch as well. Then around the same time that Moore and Valdez got in the ring, within around two weeks, Marciano is fighting Don Cockell. Valdez during his win over Charles had won 11 in a row, and that is I think how he had become Number one contender. During the time he was number one he sure wasn’t spotty. Even Roland La Starza had won two in a row before he got into the ring for the championship with Marciano, but Valdez at 11 straight wins, and I think 7 knockouts is too spotty? I think his loss where he felt he was robbed to Moore might have ruined him mentally, though he did fight Don Cockell after the Englishmans fight with Marciano and stopped him in three, and sure Cockell had defeated by decision La Starza after la Starza had lost to Marciano (Marciano did seem to effect fighters after they fought him) but don’t you think Valdez would probably have beaten Cockell anyway. One can suggest that Marciano would have won, but with valdez’s size, bigger than even Cockell, nothing is certain. He deserved a shot at the title, and did not get it.

  34. Clarence George 07:05pm, 02/10/2013

    No disrespect to Nino Valdez, Nicolas, but I don’t consider him remotely in Marciano’s league.  Also, I think the main reason the Cuban didn’t get a shot at the championship is because his record was spotty.

  35. nicolas 05:34pm, 02/10/2013

    It was written somewhere that Liston once met Marciano and Liston was scoffing his greatness. Marciano got mad and wanted to put on the gloves and go fight him. Liston’s handlers got him away from the scene. I would just say, that had Marciano continued and gave everyone a fair shot, he would have probably been beaten by Liston in 59. I just feel that Liston was a tough guy, and would have been too big for Marciano. Liston was probably at his best in 59 and 60. Before his fight with Ali, he had fought once a year, with one round knockouts, and in some 3 years fought I believe a total of 6 rounds, and was around 34 when he lost the title. Many say that Liston was just a bully like Tyson, however think about how old he was at the time when he lost the title, against I think the greatest heavyweight of all time. Emmanuel Stewart once said that Ali was lucky he did not have to fight the Liston of 59. I think Liston was a great fighter who did not get the title shot in 59 or 60, and would have been champion for longer than people realize. Marciano I think was the greatest under 190 lbs, but the biggest negative on him is that he never fought Nino Valdez, when Valdez was number one contender. Many have felt that he did duck Valdez, or at least his management.

  36. Clarence George 02:11am, 02/10/2013

    An intriguing fantasy fight, Nicolas.

    I think Rocky Marciano would have had trouble against Sonny Liston if he had continued.  But if they both fought when at their prime…I’d put my money on Marciano.

    It’s only recently that Liston has gotten the credit he deserves.  Still, I don’t rank him among the top 10, while I have Marciano among the top five.

  37. nicolas 08:02pm, 02/09/2013

    What I reallly admire about Walker is that he went as far as he could go. Think about it, going after heavyweights after having been World Welterweight champion, and not even really fighting at the heavyweight limit I believe. So many fighters seem always just to want to go undefeated, and will retire with an 0. In a weird way, I think it is kind of a sin to want to have a zero at the end of your record when you finally retire, because it really doesn’t say how good you were, but that maybe you were scared to lose, or for health reasons that you had to retire. . I guess for me a fighter should have no fewer than two loses, when he lost the title, and when he tried to regain it, he lost again. I often wondered how far Marciano could have gone. Would he finally have fallen to the fists of Sonny Liston?

  38. Clarence George 06:12pm, 02/06/2013

    Well, Nicolas, my own view is that Walker is among the all-time best pound-for-pounders.  I think he’s number 11 on Bert Sugar’s list, by the way.  But there’s always a degree of subjectivity to these assessments.  And that’s what makes discussions.

    Say, did you know that Walker was a pretty successful artist?  Unusual, to say the least.

  39. nicolas 04:18pm, 02/06/2013

    I just watched the 11 minutes that is available on YouTube, and was greatly impressed with what I saw of Walker against Sharkey. Too bad we can’t see the whole fight to make a better determination. I was not all that impressed with Walker and a Middleweight as from what I have heard, that his victory over Flowers was controversial, also that he was lucky it was in Chicago and only 10 rounds. He might have been fighting Greb when Greb was past his best years. What is impressive however is to realize that he was so competitive against heavyweights on the caliber of Schmeling and even Sharkey, and twice came close to being declared light heavyweight champ, though many feel any nod for Walker in those fights were misplaced. What he did however, was show a man who went all the way that he could, unlike today’s fighters who appear to be afraid to lose.

  40. Clarence George 04:18am, 02/06/2013

    Thank you, Mike.

    Ah, to see Walker vs. Greb.  That’d be boxing heaven.

  41. Mike Casey 03:57am, 02/06/2013

    Nice read, Clarence. Mickey was an incredible fighter and Max very underrated. There are many glimpses of Walker’s great talent here before Schmeling overwhelmed him. Interesting to read the views of some of the contemporary writers who believed that Mick was already past his best when he stepped up to middleweight. He had already engaged in a lot of hard fights by that time. How I wish the Greb-Walker fight had been filmed. Damon Runyon wrote a brilliant account of that classic battle.

  42. Clarence George 03:38am, 02/06/2013

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Nicolas.

    I’m particularly interested in what you had to say about the Walker-Sharkey bout.  According to my own reading and research, there was a consensus among spectators and observers that Walker should have gotten the nod.  This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that the consensus was as well-nigh universal as it was that Schmeling beat Sharkey…or that Manny Pacquiao beat Timothy Bradley.

  43. nicolas 08:28pm, 02/05/2013

    Interesting match. Walker did quite well. Didn’t see the 7th round, but I suppose Max won that round, and Walker might have gotten the 2nd through 5th rounds. I thought the punch at the end of the 5th shook up Walker, though he won that round. I wonder if hearing the referee in this fight is actual. This is the first time that I can recall, that we hear a referee speaking in a fight that is over 70 yrs old. Was this just added recently? Also as far as Walkers right with Sharkey, I have not read that some felt that Walker won, but before I kind of had the impression that the draw was more of a gift to Walker, because of his courageous effort. The UPI score at the end of that fight was 7-3-5 for Sharkey. Unless you give those even rounds to Walker, it would appear that Sharkey was far better.

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