Sugar Ray Robinson vs Gene Fullmer 2
May 3, 1957
Venue: Chicago Stadium
Gene Fullmer was one of the most unlikeliest middleweight champions who ever lived. Fullmer was only 5’7 and was never an explosive puncher. He was an aggressive fighter who would tie you up inside and make things ugly. Before you knew it, the fight was over and Fullmer had defeated you. This was exactly what happened on January 2, 1957 when Fullmer shocked the boxing world by defeating the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson. Fullmer earned a unanimous decision to win the middleweight championship of the world. Robinson had to come up with a way to combat Fullmer’s unorthodox way of fighting. The rematch would take place two days before Robinson’s 36th birthday.
The first four rounds saw Robinson utilize his cannon like jab and five inch height advantage to keep Fullmer from crowding him like he did in their first fight. Early in round five, Robinson landed a clean right cross counter that briefly stunned the granite-chinned champion. Then seconds later, Fullmer ran into a short, picture perfect check left hook that dropped Fullmer. Fullmer seemed briefly paralyzed as he tried with all his might to get up but his legs wouldn’t comply. Fullmer finally got up right after referee Frank Sikora counted to 10 and immediately fell into Sikora’s arms. It’s the single best left hook ever landed in boxing history.
My father was nine years old when he watched this fight live. He would always remind anyone who would listen just how perfect Robinson’s left hook was that night. When I finally got a tape of this fight in the early 90s, I saw with my own eyes what my father was talking about. Robinson’s knockout punch of Fullmer was short and precise. It landed on Fullmer’s jaw at the same time Fullmer walked into the punch. The knockout more than lived up to my father’s hype.
Fullmer would regain the NBA version of the middleweight two years later when he knocked out former 147 and 160-pound champion Carmen Basilio. He would successfully defend the title twice against Robinson, with a draw and another victory against Robinson and edged Robinson in their four fight series. Fullmer would lose his version of the 160-pound crown for good on October 23, 1962 to the Nigerian great Dick Tiger. He would finally retire a year later by quitting on his stool against Tiger in the champion’s homeland of Nigeria. As for Robinson, his knockout of Fullmer was further proof that his claim to being the greatest fighter of all-time was as valid as any fighter who ever lived.