On This Day: THE Greatest Knockout Ever Seen – Robinson KO Fullmer

By James Slater - 05/01/2024 - Comments

Sugar Ray Robinson KO5 Gene Fullmer. Has there ever been a more glorious, a more stunning, a more simply beautiful knockout captured on film? Very probably not. It was an exquisite display of timing, of speed and of accuracy from the man so many historians glowingly refer to as ‘the best to ever do it.’

And what really makes Sugar’s blink-and-you’ll-(still)-miss-it, one-punch knockout so very special, is the fact that he laid out a genuinely tough guy, a fighter who had never previously been stopped and who would only ever lose one other fight inside the distance; this at the very end of Gene’s career, the inside the distance defeat being a corner retirement.

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No, only Sugar Ray managed to knock Fullmer into another dimension, and this he did on this day back in 1957. Other things that make the KO so special include the fact that Robinson was boxing at a relatively advanced age at the time, Sugar Ray being a couple of days shy of his 36th birthday. Also, and this makes the sizzler of a KO really special, Robinson was actually moving backwards when he landed the fight-ender of all fight-enders.

All these years later, and boxing fans, of all ages, continue to marvel over the knockout Robinson scored in avenging his previous 15 round points loss to Fullmer, with him regaining the world middleweight crown courtesy of the KO. Teddy Atlas says the KO Robinson scored ranks as the greatest of all-time. Atlas is far from the only expert to have such an opinion.

Robinson, a man who could seemingly do it all in the ring, set the punch up by throwing out a number of rights hands, this tactic later recalled by Robinson as follows:

“I was showing him the right all night in order to set up the left. It was a left hook that caught him on the way in. I don’t know [how far the punch travelled] but he got the message somewhere.”

Fullmer did indeed get the message, not that the felled fighter knew what hit him until he had come to and had had a chance to watch a replay of the fight. Fullmer was so out of it he didn’t even know the fight had ended, the former champ asking his corner why they stopped the fight. “Because you got counted out,” Gene was told. “That’s a good reason,” he joked, this despite the agony of defeat.

Robinson cracked home a right hand to Fullmer’s thick-set body, before he landed the flashing, destructive left hook clean on Fullmer’s exposed jaw. Fullmer crashed instantly, his equilibrium vaporised. On pure instinct, Fullmer tried to rise, but he was gone. Obliterated, the victim of the ‘perfect punch.’

Robinson was classy in victory, as was to be expected.

“It was a very rough fight,” Sugar Ray said. “I owe my success to the millions of people who have prayed for me and to the way that God answered their prayers and mine. That was what helped me to victory. And I want to thank Joe Louis who came to my aid when I needed him and helped me with advice and counsel. He is my very great friend.”

Sugar Ray, the greatest ever pound-for-pound, and “The Brown Bomber,” arguably the greatest heavyweight ever. What a team. What a winning result. What a knockout!

67 years ago today, the man born Walker Smith Junior perhaps scored his greatest win. Certainly, Sugar Ray on this day scored the greatest knockout he ever registered. The greatest knockout ANY fighter ever registered.

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