The Ezzard Charles- Archie Moore Wars - “The Cincinnati Cobra” A Step Ahead Of “The Ole Mongoose”

By James Slater: Both Ezzard Charles and Archie Moore were consummate craftsmen of the ring. Their ultra slick moves continue to inspire fighters today, and both men regularly pop up in greatest-ever fighters lists. Yes it is probably up at heavyweight, and their tussles with the unbeatable Rocky Marciano, for which they are best known - and both men really tested “The Rock” severely; Archie decked the heavyweight king early on, before finally being stopped in the ninth round of a great battle, Ezzard tangling with Rocky on two occasions: losing an extremely close decision the first time and being stopped in the eighth in fight-two, but not before almost tearing Marciano’s nose clean off his face - but the two men are arguably the two best light-heavyweights in history.

Charles, 93-25-1(52) never actually became world champ at 175-pounds, but he did best the wise old craftsman that was Moore, 185-23-10(131) each time they met in fierce battles.

Fight one was fought on May the 20th, 1946, in Pittsburgh, and was a non-title bout scheduled for ten rounds. Ezzard inflicted the first of his three defeats on Moore with a commandingly wide unanimous decision. He also decked the ageless one with an extremely hurtful body shot in round eight. Archie barely beat the count, rising at nine. Charles had given Moore a clear beating.

The following May, they met again. This time the fight was held in Ezzard’s hometown of Cincinnati. Not that he needed the advantage. Again with no title on the line, and again fought over ten rounds, Charles captured a majority verdict. Also as in the first meeting between the two light heavyweight greats, Ezzard put Moore down with a body shot, this time in the seventh round. It just didn’t seem as though Archie, as good as he was, could gain the upper hand over the younger man. Still, this didn’t stop him from trying. For although nowadays the overwhelming urge of many a boxer would doubtless be to avoid such a tough foe, this was not the way of things for fighters back in the 1940’s - especially not black fighters. Fight three came just short of a year later.

This time they met in Ohio, in January of 1948, and again the match was scheduled for ten rounds. What followed was probably the best fight of their three fight series. Both men started fast and the pace remained unaltered throughout. In this bout, Archie saw his best chance of victory pass him by. He had Charles walking on queer street in round number eight, and was seemingly a punch or two away from at last defeating the man from Cincinnati - and by knockout to boot. Yet somehow, Ezzard recovered his senses and came back with some devastating blows of his own to sensationally KO “The Mongoose” in the very same round. The finishing punch, a right cross, was absolutely perfect.

This win finally convinced Moore that, good as he was, he simply could not find a way to beat Charles. Both men went about their careers from then on without hooking up again. And both men’s finest accomplishments were still ahead of them, too. Imagine that, two supremely talented light heavyweights squaring off with one another - three times - before even fighting for a world title!

Tragically, Charles passed away in 1975, at the young age of 53. “Ageless” Archie, the best fighter Charles ever defeated, live a long and full life, passing away at the ripe old age of 82 in 1998. It’s a cliché, but they really don’t make ‘em like these two anymore.

Article posted on 07.04.2012

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