Walcott and Louis: One Myth or Two?

By Mike Casey on June 9, 2014
Walcott and Louis: One Myth or Two?
Arrogance, one of the essential ingredients in a fighter’s make-up, needs to be tempered.

Jersey Joe Walcott, who gatecrashed the party late and then got little time to enjoy it, has gone down as a romantic and whimsical figure of the sport…

It didn’t happen once. It happened twice. Tough luck wasn’t the reason it happened the first time and old age wasn’t the reason it happened the second. Jersey Joe Walcott was knocked out by a burst of brilliance from Joe Louis at Yankee Stadium in 1948 and by one of the greatest right hands thrown in ring history by Rocky Marciano at Philadelphia in 1952.

Jersey Joe came up short on each occasion, having done all the right things until the time came to save the document and safely file it. He was the pitcher who falls one inning short of a no-hitter, the quarterback who plays the perfect game until he concedes a late touchdown by passing the ball to the opponent.

Walcott, the oft-described hard luck hero who gatecrashed the party late and then got little time to enjoy it, has gone down as a romantic and whimsical figure of the sport. He didn’t get the breaks early in his career and he was old and near decrepit when fate finally dealt him a good hand. Then he was cruelly cut down by Father Time against the crude and agricultural Rocky Marciano, who couldn’t distinguish an opponent’s chin from his kneecap. Poor old Jersey Joe. These are not just the opinions of some people. They are firm beliefs which give unjust credit to a man whose misfortunes were so often self-inflicted.

The fact that Walcott so nearly did it right on the big occasions (and the only time he did it right was when he knocked out Ezzard Charles in Pittsburgh to finally win the heavyweight championship) has deposited him in that category of mystical fighters who are remembered for being far better than they really were.

Walcott was an excellent and economic boxer of shifts, shuffles and feints, a genuine knockout puncher and as good at taking punishment as he could give it. It was no mean feat to knock out Charles with one of the most beautiful left hooks this writer has ever seen. It was equally commendable to get through nearly 26 rounds with Joe Louis in two fights and to survive Marciano’s brutal punching for more than 12. However, let us not pretend that the gods were forever conspiring to deprive Jersey Joe of his just dues.

He repeatedly failed to cross the line and this failure was born out of a self-destructive arrogance that made him believe the job was already done and that he could do the last few yards at a canter. Arrogance, one of the most essential ingredients in a fighter’s make-up, needs to be tempered. Walcott rarely managed to do this at the most crucial moments in his career.

His arrogance was most savagely punished at the Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia by Marciano, an opponent Walcott had derided for not being worthy. Jersey Joe got careless and got beaten to the draw in that fateful thirteenth round. Old age had nothing to do with it. For the first 12 rounds of that terrific battle, Walcott was the best Walcott we had ever seen. Many ringsiders made that observation. Are we supposed to believe that the minute’s rest between the 12th and 13th rounds suddenly turned 38-year-old Jersey Joe into a geriatric? False credit to his age has very unfairly tarnished Marciano’s star in the years that have followed.

Ring editor Nat Fleischer, at ringside for the Walcott-Marciano match, wrote: “Walcott was better in defeat than he ever had been in any of his triumphs, a remarkable feat considering his age and the powerful hitting of his challenger. Walcott was the oldest title holder to defend the heavyweight crown, but his performance, a remarkable one, belied his age for he fought like one ten years his junior.”

Ended

Let us not forgot too that the fight could have ended in Walcott’s favor in the 11th round, which was torrid for Rocky. Boxing and punching quite superbly, Jersey Joe had Marciano in desperate trouble but couldn’t find the payoff punches. Walcott had decked Rocky in the first, cut the bridge of his nose and battered him throughout with hard and educated punches. Jersey Joe had done all the necessary groundwork and opened the door to the safe. But it was Marciano who plundered its riches with that booming right that wiped all the numbers off the scoreboard.

Walcott, looking assured and no less effective or energetic than he had done all night long, suddenly stopped circling and backed into the ropes. That was his mistake. He had trapped himself in similar fashion four years earlier against Louis in their second fight for the Brown Bomber’s title.

In their first match at Madison Square Garden in 1947, Louis had retained the title on a hotly disputed split decision, so disgusted with his lethargic performance that he left the ring before the verdict was announced. Yet here we have another Walcott untruth; the untruth that everyone believed Louis had lost. Everyone didn’t. Louis had a lot of supporters that night, many of whom might well have been seeing what they thought they saw through rose-tinted glasses. But it was so typical of Walcott that he should have left room for doubt. For all his unquestionable talent, it seemed he couldn’t help being lackadaisical and overconfident. When he needed to sprint and really seal the deal, he cruised.

Return

He was cruising very nicely in the return match until he committed fistic suicide in a spectacular 11th round. Knocked down briefly in the third round, Louis appeared once again to be vainly chasing the jigging, side-stepping challenger who had frustrated him six months before. The Bomber trailed on points after ten rounds and the crowd was booing the lack of significant action.

Then that cocky streak in Walcott showed itself. It did so disastrously. Breaking into a little shuffle and strut, he decided to trade punches with Louis. Jersey Joe had been strictly advised not to do this. A thunderous right to the temple severed all movement in Walcott, rooting him to the floor and teeing him up for one of the greatest combinations ever thrown.

The ripping punches that followed, short and perfectly sweet, stretched Jersey Joe flat on the canvas. He clambered to his knees, nearly made it to his feet at the count of nine, but fell back down to take the count.

Louis, for the umpteenth time in his epic career, had shown us economical power punching at its most sublime and thrilling. I have yet to see it eclipsed for its strange beauty and disciplined savagery.

The dejected Walcott had strong words for referee Frank Fullam. “I thought I had Louis. Then the referee kept telling me to come out and fight. He didn’t tell Louis — just me. It got me confused. I changed my style of fighting and this happened. I only remember that first punch — a right to the head. They say he hit me some more — I don’t remember.”

This was a familiar squawk from Jersey Joe. When Marciano knocked out a quite plainly uninterested Walcott in the first round of their return match (with what still appears to be little more than a medium poke) the old man who never got an even break in his own mind complained of a fast count. Walcott, some revisionists would have us believe, has been underrated and unappreciated. I don’t believe so. I don’t think history has misjudged Jersey Joe any more than it has sold short the greatly gifted but fatally temperamental Jack Sharkey. I don’t believe that either man was deceiving us. I don’t believe that either possessed a reserve store of magic that never saw the light of day.

After Louis, Walcott failed twice to wrest the championship from Ezzard Charles. When Jersey Joe finally hit the jackpot by knocking out Charles at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh in 1951, it seemed that the final piece to an otherwise well constructed template had finally fallen into place. It was a wonderful win and one of the greatest ever one-punch finishes. But the trilogy between the pair had otherwise failed to thrill the fans in the manner of Louis’ explosive victories.

Perhaps that is why the fourth and final meeting between Walcott and Charles is now so infrequently discussed. Jersey Joe won a unanimous decision at the Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia in June 1952, three months before his dethronement in the same ring by Marciano. But it was Charles who had the sympathy of most after a dour and dull fight, with 24 of 41 writers polled at ringside voting in his favor. Walcott, as the title holder, probably deserved the benefit of the doubt in a contest where champion and challenger were similarly timid. Yet once again Jersey Joe failed to stamp his authority on a vital fight. Had the judges not found in his favor, his box office bonanza against Marciano would have been out of the window.

Rocky and Joe Louis

The fashionable belittling of Rocky Marciano’s status among the all time heavyweights is largely centered around the argument that Rocky beat up a succession of “old men” starting with Walcott. Never mind the fact that these “old men” were still at the top of the game and still highly dangerous. Ezzard Charles was some creaking old man when he failed by a whisker to lift Marciano’s crown in their first battle. I have argued here that it is a myth that Old Age beat Jersey Joe Walcott in his first fight with The Rock. Is it also a myth that old age beat Joe Louis against Marciano in October, 1951?

Here, against all my usual instincts, I find myself resorting to the classic fence-sitting answer of “yes and no.” Rocky’s brutal victory over Joe has certainly been devalued and too easily dismissed as insignificant. It was far from that. But Louis, unlike Walcott, was patently no longer the great fighter he used to be. Gone was that beautifully lithe physique and the explosive fast punching that made him famous. A year before being wrecked by Marciano, Joe had failed to win back his old title against Charles, looking ponderously slow and flabby.

Joe’s best days were way behind him and everybody knew it. He racked up eight wins on the way to Rocky, but had to go the full distance in five of those bouts. He was still a formidable fighter by the standards of most others and the proof of that pudding is the damage he did to Marciano before running out of steam and getting flattened in that memorable eighth round.

Why, then, can’t we just hide that result in the closet and say it doesn’t count? Because of each fighter’s style and because Joe’s style played right into Marciano’s hands. Because Marciano might just have knocked out Louis at any time in Joe’s career.

Editor

James P. Dawson (Jimmy Dawson to give him his more familiar name) was boxing editor of the New York Times from 1915 to his death in 1953. In 1951, shortly after Marciano’s knockout of Louis, Dawson wrote a very interesting and insightful article. The timing of the article is significant, because Dawson had no way of knowing whether Rocky will go on to further glory or simply prove to be a false alarm.

Dawson writes: “The Marciano who pounded Joe Louis into unconsciousness would have done the same thing in Louis’ first defense of the title. This is for sure. The record proves it. It is there for all to read. But all anybody read after the Madison Square Garden denouement was that Louis bowed to Old Age. A dangerous customer, to be sure, this Old Age thing. Sure, Louis’ advanced years, for an athlete, had something to do with this latest ring drama. Joe’s reflexes aren’t as sharp, his movements aren’t as swift and light-footed, his punch lacks the accuracy of old, although it might have the steam. But to say this guy Old Age beat Louis is burying in anonymity the new ring sensation, Marciano.

“Marciano, whether you like him or not, inevitably must go on through a career which will end with him remembered with an approximation of nostalgic awe, respect and retrospective allure as Jack Dempsey. The Brockton strong boy, with his blockbuster punches, is what Dempsey was at a corresponding time in his career in a couple of very vital respects. First, he fights out of the Dempsey manner, out of a crouch, winging with a left hook. Second, Marciano has the savage, primitive, merciless style that is pitiless until a foe is prostrate. To minimize the fighting qualities with which Marciano crushed Louis will, on sober consideration, be recognized as an injustice to the Bay Stater. Indeed, even to couple old age and Marciano’s furious fighting style with excessive emphasis is taking something away from Marciano.”

Primarily, Jimmy Dawson insists, the downfall of Louis at the hands of Marciano was triggered by their respective styles, not Joe’s advancing years. “The record is there to support this view. From the start of his career back in 1934, Louis never has been able to handle a crouching fighter. Nor could as wise, experienced and capable a ringman as Jack Blackburn ever equip Louis against this style, although he tried diligently.

“Louis was a young fellow in those days. He was bouncing along joyously on a career that shall always remain unparalleled for heavyweight title defenses. He had only to scowl from his corner to blow down the fellow in the opposite corner, so overwhelmingly complete was the awe in which he was held.

“But, Joe knew. Those around him knew. Louis could never do much with a fellow in a crouch who entertained no fear, had the will to fight and would go in against the Bomber doing just that.”

Back in the more recent days of 2012, writer Springs Toledo wrote an intriguing and intricate article on a fantasy fight between Marciano and Louis. Therein, Toledo speaks of Marciano’s much underestimated ‘deep weave’ that wasn’t simply employed to get under an opponent’s offense: “It powered-up his own offense enough to send much larger men reeling backward. It’s a critical point. Before the opponent could recover either his wits or his balance, Marciano would be at his chest grinding away and throwing right hooks to the flank and left uppercuts to the sternum.

“Few men anywhere near his weight would have the strength to resist his low-centered power thrusts and fewer still would have the speed of foot to step back out of range, counter, and then spin off before he pinned them on the ropes.

“Joe Louis isn’t among them. He was not stronger than Marciano and his mobility was efficient, deliberate—and not fast enough. He was a thinking fighter who worked off the jab and tried to blast through the back of an opponent’s head. It made for a compelling spectacle when he was stalking opponents and closing the distance on his own terms, but Marciano would concede nothing. Marciano was too stingy a fighter to allow either room to punch or time to mull things over.”

Springs Toledo states another truism when he says: “Boxing historians and fans watch clips of Louis’s knockouts, compelling spectacles all, and are rightfully astonished. Many are astonished enough to deny an odds-busting truth of boxing: Styles make fights. To be sure, Louis had the ability to handle almost any style.

“He could be counted on to overcome modern giants, flatten punchers, and, contrary to popular myth, search out and destroy mobile boxers. Louis had trouble with one style in particular and he knew it: ‘I had a bad weakness I kept hid throughout my career. I didn’t like to be crowded, and Marciano always crowded his opponents. That’s why I say I could never have beaten him.’ For a man who said Muhammad Ali would have been just another ‘bum of the month,’ this admission reveals much.

“Peak-for-peak, Rocky Marciano should be favored to defeat Joe Louis by late round stoppage.”

Assessment

Your writer is inclined to agree with that assessment, with Marciano surviving great punishment to knock out Louis late in the fight, possibly as late as the 14th or 15th round at the traditional world championship distance. But there is always a twist in the fight game, isn’t there? There has to be.

The twist to this little tale is that Joe Louis was the greater fighter of the two in an overall perspective. This is one of the reasons that boxing largely stands alone from other sports when we attempt to measure fighters from different eras. It is so much more than simply number crunching their stats and tossing them into a very clever computer. It is so much more than imagining a simple head-to-head confrontation based on styles and similar opponents.

“The record proves it,” wrote Jimmy Dawson in contending that Marciano would have beaten Louis at any time. But Louis’ record is also there to prove his achievement, longevity and an undisputed championship reign that is now unlikely to be surpassed. That record still stands up all these years later and let’s not forget that a fair few of those so-called ‘bums of the month’ were very talented and dangerous men. The likes of Max Schmeling, Buddy Baer, Tommy Farr, Tony Galento and Arturo Godoy would not be out of their depth as major league contenders in any era. People gasped and cried out in shock when Joe got knocked out by Rocky because, even after the Charles defeat, they couldn’t believe that the great Bomber could be emphatically smashed.

And so Rocky Marciano beats Joe Louis. Then again, no he doesn’t. Only in the field of boxing do such glorious contradictions come by the score.

Mike Casey is a Boxing.com writer and Founder & Editor of ALL TIME BOXING at https://sites.google.com/site/alltimeboxingrankings. He is a freelance journalist and boxing historian and a member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO). Mike is also a highly successful artist at Saatch Art (http://www.saatchiart.com/account/artworks/93559).

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Joe Louis vs Jersey Joe Walcott, I



Joe Louis vs Jersey Joe Walcott II



Rocky Marciano vs Jersey Joe Walcott, I



Rocky Marciano vs Jersey Joe Walcott II



1951-10-26 Joe Louis vs Rocky Marciano



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  1. Lucas McCain 01:25pm, 09/21/2018

    Really glad this was rerun in the Favorites column four years later.  Really worth reading—flexible, iconoclastic, unsentimental—the kind of treat I hope to find, and often do, on Boxing.com

  2. Mike Silver 06:44pm, 06/16/2014

    You know plenty Leroy. More than most. Always interesting to read your comments.

  3. Tex Hassler 05:24pm, 06/16/2014

    When Louis had his first fight with Schmeling, Max dominated Joe Louis and KO’d him in the 12th round. One paper that might seem like Louis could never defeat Max but the next time they met things were different. Max did in deed see something in the 2nd fight. He saw hard right hands and left hooks coming his way like a tornado. Of course Louis finished him on one round. Another tought is if Louis and Marciano in their primes met 3 times in a row in close fights it might have finished both of their careers because both were tremendous punchers. It is wonderful to dream about fights like this. In reality there are many factors to consider like cuts, injuries and even coming into the ring sick. Once a major match is made most fighter will not back out. Marciano would crawl into the ring for a big pay day even is he should have been in the hospital. I do no know as much about boxing as Mike Slver but I can bring up some interesting points.

  4. Mike Silver 06:33am, 06/16/2014

    You bring up an interesting point Leroy. Usually when we think of dream matches we don’t think of a three fight series, I guess because just getting them into the ring for that first fight is the ultimate desire to satisfy our curiosity. First things first. But I think it would definitely depend on how the first fight went. A close tough fight would warrant a return match whereby each could try to adjust to the other’s style. It would also be Charley Goldman vs. Jack Blackburn, in a way. Depending on how it went one fight might be enough. If one of the fighters won two in a row in dominant performances that would preclude a third fight.

  5. Tex Hassler 07:15pm, 06/14/2014

    If we are going to match a prime Joe Louis with a prime Rocky Marciano it needs to be a 3 fight series. Why, you might ask? Because if you beat either one of these men one time that did not mean you could beat him a second time. Both could adjust and correct mistakes. Both easily beat men who fought them close fights the first time or in Louis’s case beat him like a few did or came close to doing just that.
    The great fighters like Ray Robinson usually won the second fight if they lost the first one. They learned from their mistakes.

  6. Jaylendemarco 05:18am, 06/14/2014

    My Top 20 heavyweights in order!
    Joe Louis
    Muhammad Ali
    Jack Johnson
    George Foreman
    Larry Holmes
    Jack Dempsey
    Sonny Liston
    Jim Jeffries
    Lennox Lewis
    Mike Tyson
    Rocky Marciano
    Joe Frazier
    Riddick Bowe
    Evander Holyfield
    Sam Langford
    Gene Tunney
    James J. Corbett
    Ezzard Charles
    Jersey Joe Walcott
    Max Schmeling

  7. Mike Casey 04:01am, 06/14/2014

    Thank you, Tex - take good care!

  8. Tex Hassler 07:44pm, 06/13/2014

    I am a big fan of both Marciano and Louis. I would hate to pick a winner between the two men in their prime. Louis had one of the greatest left jabs of all time but Marciano was a master as slipping and countering a left jab. A lot of Louis’s knock downs in my opinion was from being off balance. A man can go down from being off balance without being hurt in the least. If Marciano had turned pro at 18 he might have been much better than he was. He did have one of the greatest trainers of all time, Charlie Goldman. Marciano also was in better shape than most fighters ever are. NO I cannot pick a winner between a prime Louis and Marciano.
    I do not mind taking a chance, I am just being honest. A very fine article Mr. Casey as all of your articles are.

  9. Mike Silver 09:50pm, 06/12/2014

    Me too!

  10. Mike Casey 12:18pm, 06/12/2014

    Clarence, my dear old pal, you just made me feel better!

  11. Clarence George 11:55am, 06/12/2014

    Look at it this way, Mike:  You could’ve spent much of the day at the urologist, which ain’t fun.  So they tell me.

  12. Mike Casey 08:53am, 06/12/2014

    Thanks to Clarence and Mike Silver and my other pals Eric and Irish Frankie. Will try to offer a little more comment once I’ve fully recovered from the terrible experience of having to junk my computer today and purchase another one. I’d much rather have been hit by Rocky or Joe.

  13. Lindy Lindell 08:36am, 06/12/2014

    Amid all the speculations above, here is an interesting tidbit:  Like Floyd Patterson, Joe Louis did not retire.  After Marciano, he sought to fight Rex Layne, but found no interest, and then resumed his interest in golf, becoming the first black to play in a PGA Tournament in 1952.

  14. Jaylendemarco 10:59am, 06/11/2014

        Joe Louis was the biggest name on Marciano’s resume, but he was 37 years old and had lost much. By the time of their fight the once legendary Louis had “long since lost his once devastating punch” as Nat Fleischer wrote. This is true because Louis depended greatly on speed, timing and sense of distance for his hitting power. His lost reflexes robbed him of his explosiveness and therefore his punching power. Louis still was a solid fighter when Marciano beat him because he was fundamentally sound, but he lacked the speed and power that he once possessed. Rocky’s unbeaten record is certainly not without tarnish. Many believe that Marciano actually did lose to Roland LaStarza in their first fight but got a gift decision. Jesse Abramson, boxing writer for the New York Daily Herald called it a “paper thin and exceedingly odd decision.” And it was “universally condemned around ringside as a miscarriage of justice”, according to newspaper reports. Even a member of the New England Press Corp, who would be inclined to favor Marciano in the New York bout against LaStarza, said it was a “dubious decision.” More than 50 years later LaStarza was incredulous of the decision, “I won that fight,” he maintained. In the New York Herald Tribune, Mar 25, 1950, LaStarza said, “The fact is his manager Al Weill was matchmaker for the Garden. I would say that had a lot to do with the decision.”  After the LaStarza fight Marciano’s handlers were afraid to put him in with anyone who could fight. His next opponent was Eldridge Eatman who had lost 8 of his last 9 fights. Tiger Ted Lowry who had a career record of 60-54-9, went the distance with Marciano. Others such as Harold (Kid) Mitchell, Art Henri, and Willis Red Applegate all had losing records. It is little wonder that Rex Layne was a 9-5 favorite over Marciano when Rocky finally stepped up in competition. It should be noted that Layne was no world beater, like most of Marciano’s top opponents Layne weighed well under 200 pounds and he finished with a career record of 50-17-3.

  15. Jaylendemarco 10:44am, 06/11/2014

    Marciano was only effective on a attack while trying to get inside he can not box from the outside like Louis. Keep marciano at the end of a jab, and he is not so overwhelming. Marciano don’t have the accuracy, precision, hand speed or combination punching of Joe Louis. Louis prime was 1938-1942. Louis was down 10 times in his career, and only stopped twice. The first time he was stopped was early in his career by former Champ Max Schmeling. Schmeling was known for his straight right, which he hit Louis with over sixty times flush on the chin before he finally stopped him in the 12th round. The only other time Louis was stopped was by Rocky Marciano in his last fight at age 37. Louis was a very old 37 when he fought Marciano. On the other hand Marciano was just about at his peak and was one of the best two handed punchers in Heavyweight history. No way should Louis be admonished for being stopped by Marciano at that stage of his career. The other times Louis hit the canvas was a result of a flash knockdown. He was up immediately after everyone of those knockdowns barely taking a count, and was never close to being stopped in any one of those fights. Joe Louis fought much better competition than did Rocky Marciano. Marciano never fought the big 200 pounds plus hitters and giants that Louis did. The only top notch heavyweights that Marciano defeated who weighed over 200 pounds were a fat Don Cockell who weighed 205, and Joe Louis in his last fight. Louis, on the other hand, defeated Primo Carnera who was 6’6” 260 pounds, Max Baer 6’ 3” 210 pounds, Buddy Baer 6’5” 237 pounds, and Abe Simon 6’4” 260 pounds. Louis was at his absolute best against the big men because of his speed and explosive power. Rocky’s chin was never tested against a really big first tier heavyweight puncher. The two best punchers that he did fight, Jersey Joe Walcott and Archie Moore both put him on the canvas. Rocky’s best opponents were past their prime when he faced them. Jersey Joe Walcott was 38-39 years old, Ezzard Charles was 32-33 and was at his peak at light-heavyweight and 175 pound champion Archie Moore was 42. One of the best men Marciano defeated prior to winning the title was Rex Layne. Layne lost often when he stepped up in competition. Another of the top contenders Marciano faced was Lee Savold whose career record was 89-37-3, hardly inspiring. Rocky came up in the weakest period in heavyweight history. Joe Louis is the greatest Heavyweight in history stop disrespecting him.

  16. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:33am, 06/11/2014

    Mike Casey-Here’s the thing….apparently it’s easier to pick winners in these dream match ups than present day fights like Cotto/Martinez….me thinks Sergio and his team were not being entirely honest about the true nature of his disability….therein lies the rub…..of course these dream matchups assume everything being equal….which in reality they never are.

  17. Eric 07:18am, 06/11/2014

    Marciano was floored only twice in his career, both were flash knockdowns where Marciano was up in a matter of seconds, despite what Archie Moore said. Louis was floored numerous times. Louis didn’t have a weak chin, but it certainly doesn’t match up with the legendary set of whiskers on champs like Ali or Marciano. If a much older Max Schmeling can destroy a prime Joe Louis, a Marciano victory isn’t an impossibility. Louis had trouble with Farr and Godoy, both crouching fighters like Marciano, and neither possessed the punching power or could apply the relentless pressure that Marciano applied to opponents. Perhaps a prime Louis would straighten Marciano up from his crouch with jolting uppercuts like he did Godoy in their rematch. Louis never faced anyone with Marciano’s power and obviously Marciano never had an opponent who could punch like Louis. Max and Buddy Baer could both punch, whether or not they had the power of Marciano is debatable, and Buddy like others floored Louis.

  18. Clarence George 03:48am, 06/11/2014

    Want to express my strong agreement with Mike Casey’s observation that boxing analysis can’t be boiled down to “number crunching” or feeding data “into a very clever computer.”  Not only is such an approach drearily antiseptic and arid, but it’s also doomed to failure.  I’m reminded of how Hemingway once described Fitzgerald—a mathematician who always came up with the wrong answers.

  19. Jaylendemarco 01:20am, 06/11/2014

    Marciano lacked the fundamental skills of Joe Louis, the quickness on attack of Jack Dempsey, or the quality of opponents of Joe Frazier. Marciano is not a top 5 heavyweight. Joe Louis would jolt Rocky out of his crouch with sharp uppercuts, like he did Godoy, and hammer him with crisp jabs and hooks at mid-range. Marciano decked by 37 year old Walcott, and a 42 year old light heavyweight Archie Moore would be destroyed by a prime Louis. Louis hand speed would be a major telling factor. Joe would get off to a fast start decking Rocky early like both Walcott and Moore did and finish him in the 7th by sensational Tko.

  20. bikermike 02:03pm, 06/10/2014

    I liked Jersey Joe Walcott.

    He was older than most of his opponents..but he could fight .

    That KO of Ezzard Charles by Walcott is branded into my mind.  What a punch.  Charles tried to get up…but he was out of it.

    I understand that this match wasn’t originally going to be a Title Fight….not sure why.  Anyway…for whatever reason…it was changed to a TITLE MATCH..and Jersey Joe prevailed.

  21. Eric 07:33am, 06/10/2014

    Louis was 12 years younger than Braddock and 9 years younger than Schmeling, and Schmeling kayoed him in their first fight. Ali was at least 10 years younger than Liston. Jack Dempsey was 13 years younger than an out of shape Jess Willard. Marciano was 9 years younger than Walcott, and Louis, and 10 years younger than Archie Moore. Charles was only 32 when he fought a 30 year old Marciano, so Charles wasn’t exactly ancient. It isn’t like Marciano was the only fighter who feasted on older opponents.

  22. Eric 06:11am, 06/10/2014

    Always thought that a Jersey Joe Walcott vs. Archie Moore would’ve have made for an interesting match.

  23. Eric 03:13am, 06/10/2014

    “Styles make fights,” and Marciano did have the right style to give even a prime Louis trouble. While Marciano is routinely criticized for beating up old men, it could be said that Schmeling, Max Baer, Carnera, Sharkey, and Braddock were all a bit past it when they fought Louis. However, Louis did fighter tougher competition, and defended his title often, while Rocky defended his title only twice a year. Louis never fought anyone with the suffocating, and relentless style of Marciano. Godoy and Tommy Farr both troubled Louis with similar styles, but neither could match Rocky’s workrate or punching power. Tough call, but if Louis doesn’t succeed in busting up Marciano’s thin skin, I could very well see Marciano clubbing a prime Louis into defeat much as he did the older version. However, Louis should and will always be ranked as the better fighter, fighters like Louis, Ali, Foreman, Liston, Frazier would have all been 49-0 had they fought Rocky’s competition.

  24. Clarence George 02:28am, 06/10/2014

    Thought-provoking.  In fact, that’s putting it mildly—M.C. may very well stir up a hornet’s nest with this one.

    I agree, and deplore, that Marciano’s career and accomplishments tend to be unfairly belittled, usually by what I deem casual fans, but I would be less critical of Walcott.  If anything, I consider him underrated and underappreciated.  I also don’t see Marciano having much of a chance against Louis.  A war?  No bout adoubt it, as The Andrews Sisters would say, but a win for the Bomber.  Any number of reasons, not least of which is Louis being the finest fighting machine the heavyweight division has ever known, or likely ever will know, an assessment that doesn’t at all detract from my enormous respect for Rocky.  As for the crouching…a problem for Joe?  Perhaps.  But who was he if not the ultimate solver?  As M.S. points out, he took care of business with Godoy.  And what of Galento, better known as Crouching Rhinoceros, Unhidden Rhinoceros?  You all know how much I love him…just as you all know what Joe Louis did to him.

  25. Mike Silver 09:52pm, 06/09/2014

    You really had me exercising my neurons with this one Mike and I loved every minute of it! Interesting theorems, to say the least, but I will still go with a prime Louis against a prime Marciano. Marciano was dropped by Walcott and Moore. True, he got up as always, but I think Louis would have dropped him too and Louis was the world’s greatest finisher. Louis made the adjustment against the crouching Godoy in their 2nd bout and the results were disastrous for Godoy. I give Marciano the usual puncher’s chance but my money would be on the 1938-40 version of the “Brown Bomber” for sure.

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