Ezzard Charles Vs. Archie Moore - A Three Fight Series That Gave Us Nothing But Repeats

13.09.06 - By James Slater: Although he is ranked by many as the greatest light heavyweight champion in boxing history, Archie Moore has to be placed behind one man when it comes down to the greatest all-time light heavyweight, period. For although he was never champion of the world at 175 pounds, Ezzard Charles, “The Cincinnati Cobra” as he was known, has to hold that distinction. The reason above all others is the fact that three times he bested the legendary Moore in a series of fights in the 1940’s. Not only that, but he actually KO’d “The Ol’ Mongoose” in the final bout of their trilogy. If that doesn’t make Ezzard the finest fighter ever at light heavyweight, then nothing else does. He was the 175 pound division’s finest practitioner and the KO over Moore pretty much proves it in my eyes.

Consider. Moore, who engaged in over two hundred prize fights, was only ever beaten twenty times as a light heavy ( remember also, that many of Archie’s fights were fought at a relatively advanced age), and was only stopped at the weight by four men.

The fact that Ezzard was able to master the boxer with the world record for most KO’s ever scored by a professional boxer, with seeming ease a trio of times, cements his greatness. There is no doubting it.

Both Ezzard and Archie were consummate craftsmen of the ring. Their ultra slick moves continue to inspire fighters today - James Toney, for example, watches as many tapes of these two masters as he can. Yet it is probably up at heavyweight, and their tussles with the unbeatable Rocky Marciano, for which they are best known. Both Charles and Moore tested “The Rock”
severely. Archie decked the heavyweight king early on in his fight with Rocky, before finally being stopped in the ninth round of a great battle. While Ezzard tangled 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.

Charles did manage to go one better than Moore at heavyweight, however. In an earlier campaign at the weight he captured the title with a win over another gifted and intelligent fighter, in Jersey Joe Walcott. Before losing the championship to the very same man later on. He then challenged Rocky, in an attempt to regain the crown. While Archie, after losing to Marciano, had one more crack at the biggest prize in sports. This time against the much younger Floyd Patterson - losing in five rounds. Once again then, Ezzard Charles was somewhat superior to Archie Moore - this time in the ability at fighting successfully as a heavyweight. Yet it was when the two men faced one another that Ezzard clearly had the more constant and relevant upper-hand.

Fight one was fought back in May of 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 licking.

The following year, again in 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 coloured 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! No way would such a practice be adhered to today. But, as I’ve said, back when these two legends were fighting they didn’t really have much of a choice. How boxing has changed since then.

Ezzard Charles and Archie Moore, the TWO greatest light heavyweights in boxing history.

Article posted on 14.09.2006

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