Happy Friday Eve!
How is everyone?
Good I hope.
Found out today that a manager at work has thought my name was Jason for the past 3 months!
“Jason, can you close that window there”
Clearly I’m that memorable.
My colleagues naturally were in stitches. Proceeding to call me it for the remainder of the day. It’s going to stick… I can feel it..
Did she mistake me for a young Jason Orange? I’ll take that….
I’ve been intending to write about Sugar Ray Robinson for a few weeks. But this week Johnny Greaves was brought to my attention by a good friend of mine. Felt it only fitting if I gave him a mention too in the same blog.
Before we get on to that, let’s discuss this weekend’s upcoming action. No Haye v Fury fight, (which has now been rescheduled for 8th February.)
Adonis “Superman” Stevenson v Tavoris Cloud WBC Light Middleweight title fight in Montreal. Winner faces mandatory Tony Bellew later this year.
Stevenson (22 Fights, 21 Wins, 18 KO’s, 1 Loss) with home advantage after his brutal 1st KO of Chad Dawson earlier this year.
Sponsored by Night Nurse, Horlicks and Dreams……
This was Stevenson’s 8th straight win since his defeat to Darnell Boone 3 yrs ago. Stevenson has knocked out every one of his last 8 opponents. Monster puncher.
Ex IBF World Champion Cloud (25 fights, 24 Wins, 19 KO’s, 1 Loss) who impressively held the belt for 4 and a half years from 2008-2013. Lost earlier this year to “The Executioner” B Hop, in a unanimous decision. We have two fighters who can clearly “bang”. I hope this is the fight Garcia v Matthyse should have been, with a stoppage within 5-6 rounds. If I was betting money on this, I’d probably shade Cloud. He’s faced better opposition in his career to date. You don’t go the distance with B Hop if you can’t fight.
Chess Master B Hop still a modern day tactician…
B Hop is a future Hall of Famer, so no shame in losing to him.
The man who is Mr Hall of Fame, The Greatest to ever lace up his gloves. No, not Rocky Marciano, Not even Muhammed Ali…
But Sugar Ray Robinson….
“He boxed as though he were playing the violin.”
– Sportswriter Barney Nagler
“To be a champ you have to believe in yourself when no one else will.”
– Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson – Greatest Of All Time….
Born Walker Smith on 3rd May 1921 in Georgia. He moved to Harlem, New York with his mother upon his parents separating.
It was Harlem, where he first went to a boxing club. Aged 14 he tried to enter an U16 competition. In order to make himself eligible he borrowed a friend Ray Robinson’s AAU membership card. His boxing style was described as “sweet as sugar” by future manager George Gainsford. The name Sugar Ray Robinson was born.
Robinson made his debut in October 1940, at Lightweight, winning via a 7th round KO. He went on to fight 5 more times that year, That’s unheard of these days. Even for debutants.
Robinson’s prominent rivalry with Jake LaMotta, they faced each other 6 times, Robinson winning 5, losing only 1. Robinson had a 16lb weight disadvantage against LaMotta, this made his victories even more impressive. He was 40-0 until defeated by LaMotta.
“I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes,”
– Jake LaMotta
Probably a few of you reading this thinking; “Wow.. sure.. impressive, but how is he better than Ali?”
108 Wins by KO
“The king, the master, my idol”
– Muhammed Ali
He won 90 fights and drew 2 after losing to LaMotta.
Robinson was as flamboyant as he was talented. Famous for his sharp outfits, Pink Flamingo Cadillac he drove around Harlem. Aptly called by him “The Hope Diamond of Harlem”
Only a brother could pull off that car and outfit.. Salute..
He inspired a generation of young Black Americans, finding their feet in the world. Dealing with vicious racial oppression, trying to fit in. This was way before Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam war. He was the shepherd to the sheep. Muhammed Ali, Floyd Mayweather Sr and Roger Mayweather all regard him as the greatest ever. The latter two, even better than their son/nephew Floyd. I’m certain Floyd is desperate to finish his career undefeated so he can be mentioned in the same breath as Sugar Ray.
Sugar Ray took his entourage, a prototype for what is now commonplace among celebrity athletes, on his travels abroad. It included his trainer, golf pro, nutritionist, manicurist, driver, and, of course, Roger the barber.
Robinson was one of the first African Americans to establish himself as a star outside sports. He was an integral part of the New York social scene in the 1940s and 1950s.His glamorous restaurant, Sugar Ray’s, hosted stars such as Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, Nat “King” Cole, Joe Louis, and Lena Horne among others.
When I finally get my time machine working… I’m going back to the ’50’s to hang out with the Ratpack
Robinson was described as the “perfect” boxer. Flawless. Only came unstuck against heavier opponents and when father time took it’s toll.
Tall and rangy for a welterweight, he used his physical gifts to his advantage. Excellent footwork allowed him to position himself to launch two-fisted attacks from multiple angles. His stiff jab frequently morphed into a lead left hook that was delivered with exceptional torque. His overhand right, although often launched from distance, covered that distance rapidly and frequently with concussive impact. Threw blistering combinations with bad intentions and deployed a legendary repertoire of punches that he threw with almost balletic fluidity.
“Robinson could deliver a knockout blow going backward”
– Bert Sugar
The word legend is often overused in this day and age. We can safely say, Sugar Ray was one in every sense of the word. In and out of the ring. I could write blogs for the rest of my days on him. Fascinating character.
Which moves us on to the final point of my blog. The other G.O.A.T of boxing. Albeit, not as world renown as Sugar Ray. Ladies and Gentleman, may I present… Mr Johnny Greaves, the greatest journeyman of all time.
Greaves from East Ham, 34 yrs old. 3 wins, 96 losses. Has his final fight this weekend at York Hall. Before he finally, 90 fights too late retires.
I’m more speechless about that than I am about Sugar Ray…
No I’m not…
But seriously, a friend, relative, partner, somebody, ANYBODY! Should long ago pulled him to one side and said;
“Johnny, this isn’t working, let’s go paint some fences”
How this guy hasn’t suffered from brain damage is unbelievable. You never want to see anyone badly hurt, disabled due to the sport. You think of the impact it has on their families, friends.
I remember watching a 24/7 episode some years ago of a Pacquiao fight. There was a guy who spars with everyone. Latino guy, seemed really normal. Was never going to make it as a fighter. He was simply flown all over the place by Roach and battered for 12-15 rounds daily. They showed his wife and daughter, I genuinely felt for them!
Had to search high and low for info on “our Johnny”. So I will love you and leave you with the attached article, written earlier this year by British Boxers.co.uk
My daughter has finally settled after a good 4 hours of solid crying for no reason, so I’m off to grab some grub before she wakes up for feeding.
Tune in next week for build up to the “Carpe Diem” bill on October 5th. Quigg title shot, Joshua debut and Luke Campbell will have his next outing.
Jason… I mean Paul.