With all due respect to Rocky Graziano, Rocky Lockridge, Roman “Rocky” Martinez, the fictitious Rocky Balboa, and all those tough triers known throughout the world as a “Real-Life Rocky,” there is in truth only one Rocky that truly and deeply matters: Rocky Marciano – “The Brockton Blockbuster;” the man who the old timers claim was simply incapable of losing a fight.
Though “The Rock,” who sadly passed away in a plane crash 48 years ago this week (August 31, 1969) is never far from a fight fan’s thoughts, Marciano has been in the news quite a bit just lately, due to how a certain Floyd Mayweather Junior “broke” his legendary 49-0 record. The overwhelming opinion of fight fans, experts and fellow fighters is one that says, no, sorry, Floyd, but you didn’t really break anything; you beat a rank novice who, back in Marciano’s day, would never have been allowed to fight a boxing match against one of the best boxers on the planet (although, in truth, Mayweather didn’t make a big deal about reaching 50-0, even when pressed by interviewers – Floyd actually earning a ton of respect by showing Rocky his respect, calling him a legend, one who paved the way for himself).
On paper, Marciano’s record has been topped, but Rocky’s millions of fans don’t care about paper, they only care about quality of opposition; about real fights. And though Mayweather-McGregor was a surprisingly good, exciting fight, it in no way ranks anywhere close to Marciano’s wars with the likes of Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles and Archie Moore.
Marciano’s record remains where it was before August 26: cast in stone – no, in iron, the exact same material Marciano’s chin was fashioned from. Rocky was a truly great, great fighter; a man who scarcely took a backwards step, never badmouthed anyone and never looked for an easy or safe fight. Rocky is not without his critics, of course, and some say his four year title reign was littered with fights against “old men.” Charles was 33, Moore was 41 and Jersey Joe was 37 – but these same critics cannot point a single finger at a single fighter Rocky ducked or dodged.
Marciano fought whoever he had to and he beat the hell out of them. In doing so, Marciano forever earned a place – a special place, one only a rare handful of fighters ever have the privilege of holding – in the hearts of fight fans. Unlike Mayweather, a wholly different fighting animal, Rocky went to places we mere mortals could never comprehend, and he did it in the name of honour and in search of victory.
The manner in which he fought so honourably, for so long, never once putting a foot wrong, places Marciano on the Mount Rushmore of boxing (along with Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali). Mayweather climbed a number of hills during his own great career, but Rocky conquered mountains.
15 round fights, no arguments, or say, in who the judges or the referee would be, no say in what type of gloves would be used, fighting at a far more active pace per annum, and, to top it all off, giving nothing but exciting fights each and every time out. This is Rocky’s legacy; this and his untouched record of being the only heavyweight king to have retired with a perfect, unbeaten record.
There have been other fighters named Rocky and there surely will be more in the future, but there will never be another Rocky Marciano.