They say the sport of boxing is a curious mixture of brutality, beauty, and, from those who can do it at the highest level, perfection. And it so happened that, on this day back in 1957, the boxing world bore witness to a single punch, an exquisite one-punch knockout, indeed a flawless display of hitting without getting hit, that showed how, on the right night, this sport we all so love can deliver all three things: B, P, and B, if you so wish.
What was the fight, the KO?
It was on this day, in a rematch of a fight he had lost, when the one and only, indeed the truly incomparable Sugar Ray Robinson, was facing the tougher-than-tough Gene Fullmer. Inside a sold-out Chicago Stadium, the one and only boxing Sugar gave us THE highlight reel KO of all highlight reel knockouts.
To this day, the great boxing trainers (a dying breed, perhaps – but that’s a whole other article) show the flashing example of sheer poetic violence that was let loose, in a literal, not a veritable, split-second fashion by the finest to ever do it, to their students. Indeed, this was ‘The Perfect Punch.’ Yet try as they may, no boxer has ever managed to replicate Sugar Ray’s brilliance, his super-human blend of balance, timing, and explosively accurate power. All captured in a single punch.
Down the previously seemingly bulletproof Fullmer went, never to get back up before the completed count of 10. Fullmer had been taken out by a punch that left all who saw it (and Gene, by his own admission, never caught a glimpse of the oncoming, unstoppable missile) in absolute awe.
So, what was the punch that did it?
Sugar Ray, past his best at the time at age 36 (or so the feeling went, hugely erroneously as it turned out) was going a hair backwards as he uncorked the finest left hook he ever threw – that the sport ever saw anybody throw and land. Fullmer, who had been transported into another orbit by the Godlike shot from hell, tried on instinct to get up, yet he fell flat on his face, his right glove looking for all the world as though it had been pinned to the canvas. It was over. But it will never be forgotten.
We have seen some special knockouts delivered over the years, plenty of them from our favorite and biggest stars. Yet, to risk the fault of growing tiresome by way of repeat, there never has been a KO caught on film that was/is quite as magnificent as the one the man born Walker Smith Jr scored on this day 63 years ago.
How many times have YOU watched, and marveled over, this KO on YouTube!