Among his many special qualities, Sugar Ray Robinson had an amazing ability to make the necessary adjustments when heading into a rematch. If a fighter was good enough, great enough, to defeat Robinson, chances are he was made to pay for it, and dearly, in the rematch.
Some of the fighters who won fight-one with Sugar Ray but were beaten in the return:
– Jake LaMotta
– Randy Turpin
– Gene Fullmer
– Carmen Basilio
There were, at the end of his career, when he should have been long into retirement, some guys who handed Ray more than one loss, yet in his prime, more often than not, Robinson made a rival pay in a return fight. Only the criminally underrated Ralph “Tiger” Jones beat Robinson in his prime and was never punished for having done so (or in some ways, Tiger was punished, as in he was denied a big payday, this because, after the clear beating, Jones gave Robinson in January of 1955, there never was a return fight).
One excellent fighter Robinson met twice, was Puerto Rico’s Jose Basora. Basora, who resided in New York, met Robinson in a non-title fight (Ray weighing 149, Jose coming in at 154) in May of 1945. To the surprise of plenty, Basora gave Robinson a hell of a tough fight, holding him to a ten round draw. Robinson had to dig in and rally hard in the final round to keep from losing. But Basora was known as a damn fine fighter; having beaten, among others, LaMotta, Holman Williams, and Fritzie Zivic.
Robinson would not face Basora again for over five years. But when the two did clash again, in a middleweight title fight (Pennsylvania State Middleweight Title), it was a totally different story. The rematch came on August 25th of 1950, and this time Robinson utterly destroyed Basora. Sugar scored no less than four knockdowns inside :55 seconds as he made Basora pay dearly for having tested him so hard in 1945. Robinson showed everyone how a great fighter handles a rematch of a tough fight.
It really is quite odd that Basora, as good as he was, gave Robinson all he could handle in fight-one, and was then blasted out in the return. It shows that even the best fighters can get caught cold. Sugar Ray fought just 10 days later, and then, in February of the following year, Robinson ended his savage rivalry with LaMotta, famously halting Jake in the 13th round of a classic encounter to take the world middleweight crown.
Basora soldiered on for a couple of years after the Robinson rematch, yet he was a tired fighter, and he lost more than he won. It’s little wonder Basora was tired; he had engaged in five extremely hard fights with Holman Williams (of “Black Murderer’s Row” fame), and Basora had also fought LaMotta four times. In addition, Basora had been in with Ezzard Charles, Bert Lytell (also of “Black Murderer’s Row fame”), Henry Brimm, and Holly Mims.
Basora finished up with an extremely hard-fought 78-20-6(44) record. Basora, who was stopped just five times, is one of the finest fighters never to have won a world title. He died in 1993, largely forgotten.