Remembering Jake LaMotta & Sugar Ray Robinson 6
By Matthew Dean
Without great rivalries boxing wouldn’t be the sport it is. Great athletes stand head and shoulders above their peers yet nothing makes up for a lifelong nemesis within the squared circle to bring out that extra degree of brilliance.
Through history we have had great foes and rivalries: Ali-Frazier, Gatti-Ward, Saddler-Pep. All legends and warriors, yet undoubtedly the greatest rivalry in boxing was Jake LaMotta & Sugar Ray Robinson.
This pair fought 6 times with their final battle culminating in what became known as “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.” which took place on 14-2-1951, the 68th anniversary a recent milestone.
Their battles are infamous:
2/10/1942 Robinson UD
5/2/1943 Lamotta UD
26/2/1943 Robinson UD
23/2/2945 Robinson UD
26/9/1945 Robinson SD
14/2/1951 Robinson TKO 13
Robinson was still the welterweight champ when this last fight took place. A win on this occasion meant he would relinquish the welterweight title and become the middleweight champion of the world, if he only he could wrest it from his opponent “the Bronx Bull”.
Robinson’s record was stellar going into this fight, 120 wins and only 1 loss against the man he was facing. In his favour though, this sole defeat was 8 years earlier and he had avenged that loss
13 rounds they fought at the Chicago Stadium.
LaMotta came forward and stalked his foe. Robinson, the brilliant boxer that he was, picked his shots in a boxer vs puncher classic bout, using his hand speed and circling away. From the first round the crowd knew they were in for a treat as the action was to and fro and the bout level pegging on the scorecards.
From the fourth round on, Robinson started to land harder shots, in particular a right hand dig into the ribs of LaMotta. Punches clearly destined to take their toll and tactically designed to make LaMotta drop his guard so Robinson had access to punish the head.
How LaMotta endured this punishment is testament to his toughness and is why he is believed to have the hardest chin in boxing history. He had until this point in his career never been stopped.
The rounds continued in the same way with the 2 warriors battling through. Robinson was clearly ahead on the scorecards but only by a few rounds.
Round 11 saw a reinvigorated LaMotta trap the welterweight champion in the corner and unleash a barrage of 20+ unanswered shots and Robinson looked stunned, his head and hands lolled yet he launched an uppercut and hooks and fought his way back out of the corner to safety in a tremendous effort of the will. He started to unleash big shots of his own to show just why he was in the ring with the middleweight champ. The round ended with Robinson slugging hard and LaMotta stumbling around the ring
Round 12 continued with Robinson punishing LaMotta. How the middleweight champion was still standing we cannot understand as he was absorbing a lot of blows. He looked weary but refused to yield. The end cake not that much later.
Round 13 Robinson continued his onslaught. He picked his shots and threw them with bad intentions. Both boxers were tired at this point yet Robinson still the fresher. He hit LaMotta at will. LaMotta replied with some punches of his own to show he was still there but they had nothing behind them. At this point he clearly needed the knockout to win as Sugar Ray had moved way ahead in points but he was albeit only just but still in there. It was remarked that what he lacked in ability he more than made up for in terms of courage.
A huge right hand – which still couldn’t put him down followed by a barrage of another 8 unanswered shots and the ref stopped the fight, declaring a new middleweight champion. A night never to be forgotten.
Great fighters will always be great fighters. But to take them to the next level of excellence they need fantastic opponents. These fighters were lucky in that they had one another.
6 times they fought
65 total rounds they shared inside a ring.
5-1 in Robinson’s favour
Remember the names of these two great warriors Jake LaMotta and Sugar Ray Robinson.