Roger, Floyd, and Sugar Ray Robinson

By Robert Ecksel on March 14, 2012
Roger, Floyd, and Sugar Ray Robinson
“LaMotta beat Robinson," said Roger, "because he outweighed him by like 50 pounds.”

Roger Mayweather the boxing historian should have stopped while he was ahead. But stopping while he’s ahead is not Roger’s style…

“I fought Ray Robinson so many times, it’s a miracle I don’t have diabetes.”—Jake LaMotta

Roger Mayweather, like the rest of us, has opinions. Sometimes they’re spot on. Sometimes they come from left field. But that’s the thing about opinions. All opinions are created equal, at least at their inception. Equality becomes inequality when hard cold facts rear their ugly head.

The trainer and uncle of Floyd Mayweather Jr. opined that Money May is the “second greatest fighter of all time,” just behind Sugar Ray Robinson.

“Ray Robinson is the greatest ever, period,” he said. “I don’t care what circumstance. Ray Robinson is the greatest fighter in the history of boxing.”

Roger is right. Robinson was the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in history. But those with even an inkling of boxing’s history would not rank Money May as the next man in line. An undefeated record is something of which to be proud, but numbers don’t tell the whole story.

What about Muhammad Ali (56-5) and Jack Johnson (53-11-7)? What about Henry Armstrong (150-21-10) and Jack Dempsey (61-6-9)? What about Willie Pep (229-11-1), Sam Langford (179-31-40) and Harry Greb (104-8-3)? What about Roberto Duran (103-16), Benny Leonard (90-6-1) and Archie Moore (185-23-10)?

“You know what his record was?” Roger asked about Robinson. “127-1. Do you know any other fighter with a record of 127-1? And the fighter that beat him (Jake LaMotta), he beat him six times. And the only reason he beat Robinson is because he outweighed him by like 50 pounds. And Ray Robinson wasn’t even really a middleweight fighter but slowly he started putting that weight on and then he smoked [LaMotta] every time.

“There is no fighter in the history of boxing to do what Ray Robinson has done. But fighters don’t fight that often anymore, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. Now they have that whole medical shit. Fighters can’t fight as often as they fought back in those days.”

Roger the boxing historian should have stopped while he was ahead. But stopping while he’s ahead is not his style, as Roger Mayweather would be the first to admit.

“He is ranked right behind Sugar Ray Robinson,” Roger said about his nephew. “He won seven world titles, didn’t he? He beat everyone from 130 to 154. Where would you put him at?

“[Floyd] already broke records with less fights. Ray Robinson only stayed in two divisions. Floyd started at 130, then 135, 140, 147 and 154. He already done what Ray Robinson done in 42 fights.”

One can’t blame Roger choosing to advocate for Floyd. That’s what family does. But he can be blamed for rewriting history to suit his own purposes, especially as it concerns the proliferation of weight classes that didn’t exist in Robinson’s era, not to mention the precipitous decline of talent in our own time.

To get some perspective on Floyd Mayweather, I asked the historian Mike Silver, author of “The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science,” about Money May and Roger’s claim that he ranks right behind Sugar Ray Robinson.

“That is of course absurd,” said Silver. “Look, he’s a very good fighter. No question about it. To me he’s like a welterweight Roy Jones Jr., a fighter who bases his great success on extraordinary athletic skills. But as we know, boxing goes beyond that. It’s also an art. I think it’s a mistake to compare him to fighters like Benny Leonard and Henry Armstrong. You could just go back to some of the top welterweights of the ‘40s and ‘50s. I’m talking about welterweights like Tommy Bell. Beau Jack would have run Floyd out of the ring. A fighter like Jackie Wilson—slick, sharp. Excellent boxers. Tippy Larkin. A fighter nobody ever heard of, George Costner. Bernard Docusen. These were top contenders I would put my money on to beat a prime Floyd Mayweather Jr.”

Silver has been studying boxing for decades and his knowledge is formidable. But he’s not clinging to the past while ignoring the present. His book isn’t called “The Arc of Boxing” for nothing.

“I go back and look at a fighter like Oscar De La Hoya,” he said, “who was over-the-hill when he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. He was about a half-dozen jabs away from winning that decision. If an over-the-hill Oscar De La Hoya gave Floyd Mayweather problems, what would a Kid Gavilan do to him? What would an outstanding boxer like Freddie Dawson do to him? What would IKE WILLIAMS do to him? If an ordinary club fighter like Ricky Hatton, who only attained contender status because of the lack of talent we have today, can be even with Floyd after eight rounds, what would a Beau Jack—who was an animal in there—do to a Floyd Mayweather Jr.?”

Beau Jack was a helluva fighter and it’s not inconceivable that he’d have eaten Mayweather alive. But Floyd is the finest pure boxer of our era, if not necessarily the finest pure fighter.

“We’re not taking anything away from Floyd Mayweather’s talent when we say this,” Silver continued. “But real boxing skill, real greatness, goes beyond pure speed and athleticism. And the reason why a lot of people look at Floyd Mayweather and say he could compete with the greats of the past is because he is a bit of a throwback. He has a decent amount of boxing ability, but being a bit of throwback doesn’t mean you can compete with the top fighters of that era. So the people who say that—and forget about what his uncle says—the other people who say that lack perspective and a frame of reference when it comes to Floyd Mayweather Jr.”

Silver pulled a copy of his book from a bookshelf and began leafing through its pages.

“I devote seven pages to dissecting Floyd Mayweather’s skills and abilities as compared to the old-timers. I would like to quote Tony Arnold, who was a former pro and who really is, in my opinion, one of the best analysts around today. People haven’t heard of him, but that doesn’t mean anything. Tony Arnold, who fought pro in the ‘50s, had an extensive amateur career, and this is what he said about Floyd Mayweather Jr.”

“From what I can see,” Arnold observed, “Floyd Mayweather doesn’t have what they used to call ‘ring guile’ or ‘ring generalship.’ He uses speed and quick hands to defeat opponents who are slower moving. He dominates with his speed, which is enough to overcome fighters with third-rate skills. But years ago you needed more than speed to dominate really good fighters.

“Mayweather doesn’t capitalize on an opponent’s mistakes. He just bewilders them with speed and throws a lot of punches real quick. That’s enough to win the fight. Mayweather wouldn’t know how to make a fighter do what he wants him to do.

“If he met a fighter who was crafty enough not to be bewildered by his speed, I don’t think he’d know how to handle him.

“Mayweather is quicker than the other guy. He throws faster punches. He maneuvers around, but doesn’t show any real skills. [When I saw him fight Zab Judah] I never saw any feinting or any head movement. I never saw him slip and counter, not once. I didn’t see any skills in that area at all. He’s got so many flaws.”

Silver began leafing through his book again. He wanted me to hear what Teddy Atlas had to say about Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“In the old days,” said Atlas, “there were fighters who were good defensively, but the difference was they had the attitude and the wherewithal to find a way to create an offense that would make it possible to take control of the opponent in a more meaningful way, in a more dominant way, and in a more productive way.

“I remember somebody asking before the [Mayweather-De La Hoya] fight if De La Hoya could deal with the speed of Mayweather. I said, ‘No, but he could win the fight.’ Now he thought that sounded pretty contradictory. I said, ‘No, it’s not contradictory. It’s boxing. Haven’t you heard of boxing before?’”

Mike Silver stopped reading and looked up. “I felt it was very important in my book, not to destroy Mayweather, but to put him in context. Nobody today has the knowledge and perspective to put Floyd Mayweather in historical context.”

Silver returned to his book. There was an analysis of Floyd by Mike Capriano Jr. Capriano is a former amateur fighter, trainer, and licensed manager. He was also the former coach, in the 1950s, of the most successful Marine Corps boxing team in history. If those credentials aren’t enough to establish his bona fides, his father was the man who discovered and trained Jake LaMotta.

“I think critics have a misunderstanding between speed of movement and speed of attack,” said Capriano. “Those fast and elusive boxers we saw were always involved in maintaining the attack. They were always looking for spots to land effective punches. They weren’t runners doing nothing, and then jumping in and throwing a flurry of punches. They were different.

“Ali never ran away like Mayweather. Ali was fast, but he was moving from left to right, looking to hit you with punches. Sugar Ray Robinson was also extremely fast. He was up on the soles of his feet, boxing and moving left to right. But he wasn’t running here and there. He was interested in making contact with his punches. And of course Robinson was a very hard puncher.

“Mayweather just wants to punch and run. But against the old-time welterweight and middleweight fighters you were not going to do that because they’re going to keep you on the ropes and hit you with clean punches. He can run all he wants, but sooner or later he has to come in to make contact with his opponents and those guys are going to tie him up and grab him, push him into the corner, push him against the ropes, and start ripping punches up.

“The better old-timers would feel their opponent out for a couple of rounds and then all of a sudden—‘bing-bang.’ You’d see some dynamite punches coming in. Carmen Basilio would have beaten [Mayweather]. [He’s] not in Emile Griffith’s class either. And how about Kid Gavilan? I mean Gavilan’s going to fire punches that make a difference, and he’s strong, and he’s pushing you. Gavilan would have Mayweather on the run, up against the ropes, he’d be timing that bolo and other shots, and he’s hurting Mayweather. It’s a different kind of fight.

“The old-timers came to fight. He can do all the running, but they wouldn’t get caught up in his evasive movements. Mayweather has speed, but it is not combined with cleverness.”

Mike Silver harrumphed. He liked hearing what he wanted me to hear, even though, not because, it ran contrary to Roger Mayweather’s conclusion.

He continued leafing through his book and asked if I was curious as to what one the old-time great fighters had to say about Floyd. I answered in the affirmative and he gave me a quote from former lightweight champion Carlos Ortiz.

“Mayweather is just a regular fighter with great speed,” said Ortiz. “He would have a lot of trouble in my time because every fighter that you fought in my time was a good fighter who was trying to get the title. There was only one champion per weight class, and there were three to four thousand fighters looking for that title. Today you don’t have that competition.”

More verbal but no less precise in his analysis was Bill Goodman, another great boxing historian.

“What comes to mind when I watch today’s fighters,” he said, “are the words unskilled labor. Floyd Mayweather Jr. has a great deal of natural ability, but it hasn’t been brought out the way it was with fighters years ago. I don’t think he jabs enough, and he doesn’t take advantages of opportunities. He ducks and slips punches, but instead of taking advantage of what he just did, he lets it go by, he doesn’t follow up. He makes some pretty moves and looks nice doing it, but nothing happens, he doesn’t fire. Mayweather throws one left hand and he stops punching. He doesn’t follow it up with two, three, four left jabs like they did years ago. Consequently, he doesn’t get a barrage going, he doesn’t get any momentum. Like I said, it’s unskilled labor.

“Mayweather is very fast, but he doesn’t compare to these better welterweights who were around years ago. How can you compare him to a guy like Tommy Bell from the 1940s? It’s night and day. Of course someone who doesn’t know Tommy Bell would see a number of losses on his record and not be impressed. But look at who he fought. He fought anybody and everybody.”

Silver also compared Floyd Mayweather to Tommy Bell, so he added, “He fought Sugar Ray Robinson to a close, down-to-the-wire title fight, 15 rounds. You’re not chopped liver if you do that.”

Goodman continued, “Even a guy like Gil Turner, who was a 1950s welterweight contender, wouldn’t have had any trouble [with Mayweather]. Isaac Logart and Gene Burton wouldn’t have had any problem with [him] either. Not only were these contenders well educated; they put their education to use. They fought frequently and kept busy and they were better fighters.

“They talk about Mayweather’s speed, but he wasn’t as fast or as skillful as Docusen, who fought Sugar Ray Robinson for the title in 1948 and gave him plenty of trouble. Would you say that Mayweather is going to give Sugar Ray Robinson as a welterweight plenty of trouble? There’s no comparison. But you go and tell that to a young boxing fan today and they think you’re a psycho.”

I was eager to give Mike Silver the last word—and he was eager to accept it.

“If Floyd Mayweather was fighting in 1940s or 1950s, his speed and athleticism would be the foundation—not the end product—for his development into a seasoned and technically proficient fighter. Under the watchful eye of a master trainer, Floyd’s physical gifts would have been supplemented with the footwork, moves, strategy and ring generalship that is missing from his repertoire. He also would have gained the experience and seasoning to compete with the fighters of the golden age. But even then, his success would not be guaranteed in that fierce competitive jungle.

“This is in no way meant to denigrate any fighter, including Floyd Mayweather. Any fighter that can walk up those steps into the ring I respect. It takes a certain amount of courage to just get in the ring. But, if you’re going to analyze fighters, please. Roger was a pretty good fighter, no question about it. But they let Floyd do his thing.”

Autographed copies at a reduced price of Mike Silver’s “The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science” can be purchased by contacting the author at

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Jake LaMotta W 10 Tommy Bell III

Ike Williams vs. Beau Jack_480712_480712

Ray Robinson vs Bernard Docusen

Kid Gavilan vs Johnny Bratton I

Freddie Dawson vs. Luther Rawlings (Round 3)

Emile Griffith vs Nino Benvenuti I Round 15

Gil Turner TKO 6 Joe Miceli I (better quality?)

Jorge Fernandez W 10 Isaac Logart II, round 2

Sugar Ray Robinson-Carmen Basilio I Highlight [HD]

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  1. Rollin 11:15pm, 09/20/2013

    That said, what beats Floyd is: Highest level boxing IQ and Experience + not a good, but, GREAT jab + at least comparable physical gifts and size.

    Who has that? Robinson, Tommy Hearn’s… Thats all i got
    As far as the old boys saying he is nothing but physical gifts?
    No shit. What do you think Jack Dempsey, Ray Leonard, Rocky Marciano and Ali where? Boxing technicians? They all really aren’t the BEST boxers, you have to admit. But they where the best WINNERS, they could fight AND win.. somehow. And that is why Floyd is one of the Greatest, because he make very very good fighters look completely shit and is, it think, the best at finding a way to win and exaggerating it.  People just hate watching a style that is’t their own and will never credit it or understand it.

  2. Jim Crue 09:03am, 06/15/2013

    glad you are out because you are ignorant and know nothing about the history of boxing.

  3. jdog 08:37am, 06/15/2013

    WOW hahaha terrible article, I hate how people just praise the old days when they have never seen fights from the 40s, its like people hear that sugar ray is the greatest ever and then they also just say that he is the greatest ever because thats what everyone else says and it just goes on and on. Many people are biased against floyd, ali never got enough credit back in his day and its the same for money may today, eventually he will get. Floyd is not a good boxer? What do you guys watch? the aim of the game is to hit and not be hit and no one does that better than floyd (the stats back him up), his ring adjustment is unparralled and then I read that so called boxing analysts think he would not know what to do under pressure, yeah right, stop hating and appreciate class. Also out of the 173 wins in sugar ray’s career, how many were against top talent? Every 4th or 5th fight was against a solid opponent otherwise he was fighting 10-16 record bums, floyd don’t do that. Therefore sugar ray’s record should be something like 40 or 50 wins, against ok opposition. Im out.

  4. Gordon Marino 10:13am, 04/06/2013

    Fantastic piece Robert! On the button. Thanks.

  5. Cassius 11:08pm, 02/18/2013

    At his natural weight and during his prime, Floyd would have given ANYBODY trouble, I’m convinced of that.

  6. Mike Silver 06:07pm, 05/08/2012

    There is no point in further discussion on this issue short of my having to rehash information which is already in my book which space does not allow anyway. I can assure you that NOWHERE will you find the information contained in my book, and the only way that you will know that is to read the book.  If you do not wish to invest money in purchasing my book then perhaps you can take a copy out of your local library free of charge. You may find it enlightening as it is filled with commentary by leading current experts as well as OBJECTIVE statistics that argue the point. There is nothing more for me to say on this topic.

  7. Gajjers 10:22pm, 05/07/2012

    @Mike Silver - Thanks for the dignified response, Sir - Jim Crue (whoever he is) obviously took umbrage at my rather poor attempt at humor with the ‘old fogies’ throwaway line, hence my reference to defensiveness (Floyd himself would be proud of such defense & countering). Comparing a PRIME (your qualification, not mine) old-time welterweight, ANY old-time welter of note in his prime, with a CURRENT Mayweather, just seems largely unfair. I’m sure the book you so adroitly plugged would make for fascinating reading, but I must respectfully decline your offer of a sale, however ‘steep’ the discount. I promise to visit your website though. The Internet being what it is today, I’m almost certain I could find such nuggets of pugilistic wisdom as would be contained in your tome, without having to spend a cent, and I surely have the time & inclination to do so. I myself have quite an extensive library (both literary & visual) of fighters of yesteryear, and while their body of work (100s of fights per career) is surely admirable (well, it was actually necessary if one wanted to make a living at it), I’d be hard pressed to say Mayweather in his prime was inferior in ANY department of the sweet science. On another note, Pacquiao himself has been widely reported to be on the decline, so your doubts regarding any possible outcome of a match between him & Floyd on the strength of last weekend’s events may well be unfounded. I’m just intrigued by the level of subjectivity boxing historians inject into their relative assessments of practitioners of the noble art from different eras, that’s all.

  8. Mike Silver 04:39pm, 05/07/2012

    To Gajjers: Who is being defensive here?  Certainly not Mr. Crue, who I do not know. It is just that my point is very clear to someone who truly understands this sport. If you are really serious about being educated about the lost art of boxing, and Floyd Mayweather Jr.,  and a host of other boxing topics (and have an open mind) I suggest you read my book “The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science”.  I wrote it just for people like you who I feel would benefit from what true experts with a historical frame of reference and perspective have to say. I am so sure it will answer your every question I will sell it to you for a very steep discount (I will make next to nothing on the sale). Just contact me through my web site

  9. Gajjers 02:17pm, 05/07/2012

    @Jim Crue - whoever YOU are (you ain’t Mike Silver, are you?), that WAS a defensive response! If you could educate my ignorant ass, I’d be a most willing student. What is your point?

  10. Jim Crue 02:06pm, 05/07/2012

    Gajjers, whoever you really are, you must be joking. It’s obvious you know nothing about the history of the sport so I won’t dignify your ignorant reply with a defensive response.

  11. Gajjers 11:21am, 05/07/2012

    @Mike Silver - “Replace Cotto with a prime Basilio and Mayweather is beaten badly while always on the run.” That’s a rather humorous comment, Sir - Basilio, a natural welterweight, in his prime? Mayweather is 35 years old! Hagler, Leonard & Hearns were either retired or well past it at that age. What was Basilio doing at 35, and against whom (don’t worry, I’ll check out boxrec myself)? Floyd was 130-140 lbs in his prime. Man, you must be one of those old fogies I referred to earlier. If so, your comment makes perfect sense…

  12. Mike Silver 10:12am, 05/07/2012

    Mayweather’s less than stellar performance against an over the hill Cotto proves the points made in the above article by myself, Mike Capriano and Bill Goodman. Mayweather cannot do well against a quality pressure fighter. But a worn out Cotto was not quite up to the task.  Washed up Cotto would have been beaten by most top contenders pre-1980s. He hasn’t been the same since the Margarito beating. Replace Cotto with a prime Basilio and Mayweather is beaten badly while always on the run. Against dozens of other top fighters of the past—same result. Mayweather is a legend in his own mind. But he’s the best we have today in a diminished field of talent—so he looks better than he really is. Before this fight I thought he could beat Pacquiao. Now I am not so sure. But Floyd doesn’t want the fight. Strange behavior for a champion.

  13. steven grant 07:41am, 05/01/2012


  14. Gajjers 08:21am, 03/20/2012

    Strong opinions there, Hello World, and you’ve got the right to express them.  Why were you hollering though; we’re right beside you! Old fogies (which we’re to become ourselves, should we be gifted the time it takes to make it that far) more often than not fly the flags of their childhood heroes, many of whom us younger folks haven’t seen or heard of before, unless you’re historically inclined. I personally believe Floyd would hold his own against any of the fighters of yore. Chase him out of the ring? He’s right in front of you & you still can’t hit him! I’d give Whitaker a much better chance than I would Ike Williams, because of his fundamentals (Whitaker that is) - excellent (right) jab, superb anticipation & defense, way above-average in-the-pocket acumen, never mind top-notch physical conditioning and a good chin to boot.

  15. Hello World 07:52am, 03/20/2012


  16. Buzz Montour 12:32pm, 03/19/2012

    Gypsy Joe Harris, never saw this one eyed fighter.

  17. Gajjers 06:40am, 03/19/2012

    @South Philly - “How many people remember ” Gypsy Joe Harris” from Philadelphia ?”  What about him? How did his circumstances (and those of his family) pan out? Do you know? Do you care? ... “ would have been an embarrasing night for Flop Mayweather…” Flop master - how do YOU measure success? Spilling blood for strangers who would sooner spray their spittle on you than drop a dime when you’re done? Man, you’re part of the reason strong young men choose to do something else with their lives…

  18. South Philly 05:05am, 03/19/2012

    How many people remember ” Gypsy Joe Harris” from Philadelphia ? For those that do, and have ever seen him fight, it would have been an embarrasing night for Flop Mayweather. Old school boxers never ran away from another boxer,or used all kind of excuses not to fight. I’ve been watching boxing since the 60’s, and i don’t find to much of an interest in it anymore. Between politics, bad management, and picky boxers, the game is not exciting. What happened to the real boxers? Old school philly fighters never ran from a fight or a record, we always ran to a fight and gave people what they came to see. Kitten Hayward, Bennie Briscoe, Willie “The Worm”, George Benton, Eugene “Cyclone “Hart, Tyrone Everett, Joe Frazier, Len Matthews, Gil Turner, the list goes on.

  19. Your Name 01:04am, 03/18/2012

    Please stop to say: “Today MMA is better than boxing”... I dislike not mma, but that sport is a collection of has-been of more serious sports: free style wrestling, boxe, judo etc… The average age of MMA fighters is over 40…

  20. MARGIE 03:11pm, 03/17/2012

    Except for 2 or 3 fighters, this last decade has not produced great boxers in any division, including heavyweights. Nothing like the days of Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Hitman Hearns,  to name a few. I’m sure Floyd would not stay undefeated if he had anything to do with those guys. This has been a weak era for boxing. Not sure if MMA has anything to do with it.

  21. MARGIE 02:47pm, 03/17/2012

    @ Jim Crue: Floyd Mayweather Jr.  pays his uncle, Roger,  big bucks. What did you expect him to say about his fighter and nephew? Look what happened to Floyd Sr.

  22. Jim Crue 01:22pm, 03/17/2012

    I continue to be amused by Uncle Roger’s assessment of Floyd. He clearly knows little about boxing history as can be seen by his quotes at the top of this post. Has he not seen Roberto Duran, Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns? They were all matched tough early in their careers. Hearns would have done to Floyd what he did to Cuevas… good night Floyd.

  23. martin 11:31am, 03/17/2012

    Explain to me how a 21 yr old Canelo Alvarez be 40-0 with 29 ko’s and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr have 47-0 at 26? Chavez Jr fought 21 times in 23 months almost all in Mexico. What does that tell you about the quality of their opponents? Floyd IS NO DIFFERENT. Who did Floyd beat that impresses you? Why do you think Floyd is always a minimum of 5-1 favorite in every fight? All his opponents are screened well. He avoided Cotto his prime and has a gazillion excuses to not fight Pacman, Ortiz was an inexperienced C+ fighter. Mosley, who buckled floyd in the 2nd round was over the hill, HMM was too small and to top it off Floyd didn’t make weight and was fined $600k and wouldn’t disclose his weight at the day of the fight, De La Hoya was way pass his prime, Hatton was another C+ fighter and smaller, etc… Pacman is also guilty of picking over the hill and past their prime fighters. That’s why I prefer MMA/UFC any day hands down. Unlike boxing the outcome is never predictable.

  24. Jim Crue 08:37am, 03/17/2012

    Buzz Montour in my opinion you are correct. If you watch Ike Williams, Robinson, Gavilan, Basilio, Mickey Walker, etc they fought nonstop for 15 rounds in championship fights. They wore 6 ounce gloves and were allowed to use more gauze and tape to wrap their hands. They also did not wear “body armor” cups that go almost half way to their armpits. And the refs now call low almost any body shot at the belt line. Remember John Ruiz?? Any shot to the body he fell down and claimed low blow and the ref bought it. He was taught that by his incompetent trainer they called “Stoney”. What a joke.

  25. Buzz Montour 08:17am, 03/17/2012

    Why no mention of Ike Williams, I also take issue with the statement of todays fighters are stronger and faster than ones of the past.

  26. Bodyshotkid 03:56am, 03/17/2012

    I’ll keep it short. Sugar Ray Robinson is, without doubt, the greatest fighter to ever lace ‘em up in the history of the sport! Never again will you see that level of skill, grace and power come together in a single fighter ever again!

  27. retech son 02:06am, 03/17/2012

    Great product endorsement with the expense of “money” but with justice.

  28. Jim Crue 12:15pm, 03/16/2012

    Franklin Dallas, there are no films of Harry Greb. Watch films of Mickey Walker, his contemporary, he did not maul and hold. Neither did Barney Ross, Jimmy Mc Larnin, Jackie Fields, Henry Armsrong, Gene Tunney, Bennie Leonard and on and on. And Greb beat Tunney once, had a draw, and all their fights were close.

  29. tuxtucis 12:07pm, 03/16/2012

    To Frankin Dallas:
    How is possible you watched Harry Greb Fighting if no clips of his fights actually exist?

  30. Gajjers 10:27am, 03/16/2012

    I’ve got to chime in on FrankinDallas’ & raxman’s side here; describing what today’s best ring technician does as “unskilled labor”, is at the very least condescending, and quite simply disingenuous. It’s not too surprising though, since most of us have greater regard for the sporting heroes of our impressionable young adulthood (late teens to mid-twenties) than their successors. Objectivity tends to take a back seat whenever old-school (aka Their Time) vs current-crop comparisons are made by old-timers. I just remember clips of Beau Jack flailing futilely away at the sharper-punching Ike Williams (I think one of the YouTube links above covers that bout), only to get his clock duly cleaned before too long. Unskilled labor, anyone? Johnny Bratton sure looked cute against Kid Gavilan, but I’d be hard pressed to say he looked very clever in either bout - flashy yes, gutsy yes, but man, he sure could have used some of Floyd’s defensive nous both nights! Those guys just HAD to be tough to make it to the top in those days, when 100+ fights a career was routine, but to say they were just better in all departments except speed, seems somewhat skewed to me…

  31. FrankinDallas 09:07am, 03/16/2012

    I’m going to add my 2 cents here…and will probably get pounded but what the hell….in watching the old (real old) fights on youtube, one realizes that we’re talking about two different sports. From before the 1930’s, I note a lot of changes. Watch Jack Johnson or Harry Greb and the other guys of that age, and there is way more grabbing and wrestling than the present time (with the exception of John Ruiz). Very little fluid movement….yes, sorry but even Jack Johnson fits the bill here. Probably one exception was Jack Dempsey, whose movement was exceptional. It’s just a different sport is just about any other sport, even a “purist” game like baseball has radically changed.
    Floyd Mayweather is a damn good boxer…how he would do against the old timers I don’t know and I don’t care. I just know he toys with most of his opponents and don’t tell me he only fights stiffs…..he can’t win this argument with a lot of people who can’t see past his offensive personality.
    Ok..come at me bro!

  32. tuxtucis 12:04am, 03/16/2012

    To be correct, the good old days when the titles were only 8, were very short: from 1916 (first flyweight title) to 1921 (first jr. lightweight) 1922 there was first fight for jr. lightweight yet under Dempsey’s reign titles were 10…both weight clases died around the mid of ‘30 and reappeared in the second half of ‘40…so in Robinson’s time titles were 9-10…Many titles, even in ‘30, were not unified…Anyway the number of titles was far lower than today, with a far higher number of boxers…

  33. raxman 10:40pm, 03/15/2012

    when this site started we didn’t get people who had to resort to the “you don’t know boxing” insults.  thats the stuff of eastside - but more and more its starting to creep in.
    jim crue - note the word “almost”  -  for all of floyd’s critics there are few who question his skill set - his personality aside, its the lack of using those skills against the best fighters that infuriate most.  guys like james toney are in the same boat. to measure toney’s boxing skill alone is measure greatness.
    now here’s a novel idea for you mr crue, how about you use reason to disagree rather than insult?
    this site threatens to become a real circle jerk - if you’re not part of the status quo patting the writer or hierarchy, ie the “name” commentators, on the back, then look out - because you don’t know boxing.
    old yank snaps my brain at the best of times but at least he has his own mind - and although i think he can over do it, thank god he is around to put forward another, often less popular point of view. give me an iconoclast over an icon any day.
    i make a massive comment outlining an opinion on obsession with todays boxing vs yesterdays and jim crue can only focus on one line

  34. TEX HASSLER 05:19pm, 03/15/2012

    Every one who likes boxing should read Mike Silver’s excellent book, “Arc of Boxing.”  I have studied the sport since the late 1950’s and have been involved in many areas of it including boxing some my self. I learned a lot from Mike Silver’s book. Mr. Silver knows what he is talking about. Some one said in the comments “Boxing is a learned skill!” and they are so right. Some moves take at least 3 to 5 years experience to even try to learn them. Today’s fighters hardly know how to avoid a jab except for catching one on the face or sticking their arms up in front of their face and hoping to block it. There are 6 ways of defeating a jab and few today know any more than 2 or 3 ways. It takes time and a lot of it to learn to box. Robinson, Harry Greb, Billy Conn, Benny Leonard and paid the price to learn the game and so did many others in past days.

  35. Robert Ecksel 05:13pm, 03/15/2012

    “The sweet science is joined onto the past like a man’s arm to his shoulder.”—A.J. Liebling

  36. Jim Crue 04:59pm, 03/15/2012

    Mr Raxman,
    to say that Floyd “has almost incomparable boxing skills” says a lot about your lack of knowledge of the sport. It does not take an expert to watch videos of great fighters and realize that is an absurd statement.
    Now I am done with this topic.

  37. the thresher 04:47pm, 03/15/2012

    Heated exchnages going on here with ebb and flow.

  38. jofre 04:00pm, 03/15/2012

    Terrific article and adding Mike Silver’s perspective puts it over the top. Most of what I want to add has already been said. The golden age had 8 weight divisions with one champion. Today there are 17 weight disivisons with multiple belt holders. I refuse to call them champions. So stating that Robinson only won titles in 2 weight divisions while FM won 7 is ludicrous. The alphabets created the 9 in-between divisions for the sake of collecting sanctioning fees. And it’s so bad they have to keep recyling the same old challengers.

  39. raxman 03:53pm, 03/15/2012

    as soon as i read the quote that floyd had no ring generalship i’ve given up on this one - obviously its absurd to think that floyd is #2 all timer - but its equally absurd to say floyd is like roy jones and relies on his athleticism - floyd has almost imcomparable boxing skills. this article is just a backhanded way to have another crack at floyd.
    i hate these guys stuck with “the good old days” mentality. the thing about the old days is - wait for it - they’re the old days!!! boxing is completely different now.
    who knows what floyd would’ve been like if he’d fought in that era - obviously he’d be a totally different fighter.
    instead of comparing modern day fighters negatively to those of the past - the question should asked what would robinson and greb and the others mentioned be like if they fought today? does anyone think they’d have a 100+ fights? no way. they fought that much coz thats what you did to get paid back then. if those guys were around today they’d fight twice a year for huge ppv $ and because there is such big money at risk they’d be every bit as careful with their matchmaking as floyd and pac.
    these guys werent made of some sort of amazing character that saw them put the sport of boxing and their love for it above their own needs - they were just men of that era - fighters of that era, and they acted accordingly
    we rightly sing the praises of the 80’s kings leonard and hearns etc but those guys started it. they started getting the big dollars and as a result the sport - not the character of man - changed - ask aaron pryor.

  40. Jim Crue 03:19pm, 03/15/2012

    to the last poster,
    athletes may be faster and stronger today but prize fighting is a learned craft. There are one tenth the fighters fighting today that they were in the heyday of boxing and hardly any good trainers and teachers. Also we must remember even factored for inflation the top fighters of today make much more money than the fighters of old so they can afford to be cocky and degrading, think Phoney Floyd. In the heyday of boxing the country was in or just out of the great depression so men had a reason to fight 10 times a year. Maybe if undercard fighters were paid more today we would have more fighters.
    The fighters of old just had more desire and respect.

  41. tuxtucis 03:05pm, 03/15/2012

    About incredible records I would like to remember even Wille Pep, who was 135-1-1 when he lost his first meeting with Sandy Saddler…I continue to think athletes of today are stronger and quicker than athletes of the past, but athletes of the past were greater…

  42. TEX HASSLER 01:33pm, 03/15/2012

    I read every word of this fine article. I read all of Mike Silver’s comments and I can tell you what is wrong with them. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Mike, Teddy, Bill Goodman and the others are right on target. If Floyd Mayweather had old school competition he might have been even better but he has not had that high level of competition. At 127 wins and one loss against the highest level of competition Ray Robinson had, Floyd Mayweather should not be mentioned as being any thing like as great a fighter as Robinson was.

  43. the thresher 10:28am, 03/15/2012

    Don from Prov, many of the Euro teams play fundamental baskeball and many of them can can handle the US teams.


  44. Don from Prov 09:48am, 03/15/2012

    Great article!  Really well done—

    And some very interesting comments.  Mr. Tuxtucis makes a point about athleticism overwhelming talent in the last decades but I’m not sure I agree with where he seems to end up.  What interests me is when I hear some folks who know basketball speak about how they doubt the athletic teams of today would beat some more fundamentally sound teams from the fairly recent past.  Maybe basketball is slowly heading the way of boxing in that manner anyway.

  45. the thresher 08:13am, 03/15/2012

    Though I do think FM has gotten better since the Oscar fight. He is now in his own zone of greatness.

  46. the thresher 06:32am, 03/15/2012

    And I am a big Mike Silver fan.

  47. the thresher 06:30am, 03/15/2012

    Robert, this will be a hard act to follow. You put some serious efforet behind this one. I’m going to re-read it and then comment some more, but thank you for a true masterpiece.that makes me proud to be on

  48. Jim Crue 06:20am, 03/15/2012

    another great piece, thank you.
    I wish all the young boxing fans who know little or nothing of boxing history would come to this site.
    Roger Mayweaher is the member of a family of profane, foul mouthed criminals and is also a complete knucklehead.
    Floyd Jr. is a legend in his own mind, supported by his entourage of butt kissing lackeys who tell him what he wants to hear.

  49. Pete The Sneak 04:27am, 03/15/2012

    Floyd second best behind SRR? Hmmm. Wonder if ol’ Roger is back to hitting the pipe… Nicely written article and great perspectives from some pretty knowledgable folks. Peace.

  50. mikecasey 02:48am, 03/15/2012

    Superb article and I agree with just about everything Mike Silver says here. I hear again and again that Mayweather is a ‘genius’. Perhaps he is in today’s gentle waters. But in an all-time perspective he’s just very good. For my money, we don’t even need to go back to the great Ray Robinson as our yardstick for this argument. Ray Leonard would have taken care of Floyd Jnr. in my opinion.

  51. tuxtucis 02:38am, 03/15/2012

    I think in all sports athleticism and quickness overwhelmed talent in last decades…If that happened everywhere (boxing, soccer, basket, football, rugby, tennis), that means that speed and quickness are more important than skills, no way…So Mayweather would beat for sure Benny Leonard as Rafa Nadal would beat Bill Tilden…The fact is that means not Mayweather and Rafa Nadal are greater than Leonard or Tilden, cause i think the last two were, for his era, greater athletes than other two…
    Same way every today’s army would destroy easily Alexander the Great Macedonians or Kengis Khan cavalry…but those two legendary armies rest greater than any existing army…

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