Written by Tré Berry III🖊️ | 03/04/2021
On this date, 🗓️March 4th, 1961, two Hall-of-Famer’s would meet for a final time in their 4-fight Middleweight rivalry. Boxing immortal ♛🇺🇸Sugar Ray Robinson (144-8-3, 94KO👊) went up against iron-clad workhorse 🇺🇸Gene Fullmer (52-4-2, 24KO👊) for a 15 round affair, for Fullmer’s NBA World Middleweight Title.
Ray Robinson was well into the 2nd stint of his career, after his 3 year retirement from the sport from 1952-1955, where he went on to pursue a career in dancing, and came back to boxing to pay off some debts. Upon his return to boxing, he wasn’t quite the picture-perfect 🖼️portrait in motion that he used to be, the form that had earned him status to being viewed nearly universally as the 🔱Greatest of All Time.
With that being stated, even far past his prime glory days, Robinson was still a tough out for any fighter at Middleweight (where he harbored at), even for a cast of Middleweights that were engulfed in their own personal Golden-Era.
Ray Robinson prior to his 3rd meeting with Gene Fullmer, lost his Lineal World Middleweight Championship to standout boxer 🇺🇸Paul Pender. Fullmer had recently stopped his other career-long rival 🇺🇸Carmen Basilio, so here we had a battle of high-ranking Middleweights looking to further catapult themselves towards the 🎟️top-of-the-ticket.
FINAL 15 ROUNDS SHARED IN THE RING
Robinson, now a couple months shy of his 40th birthday, still showed the ability to effectively string together 4-5 punch combinations, while the sturdy Fullmer opened up, rough-housing, and finding opportunities to sneak in the left hook on his pursuit forward. Fullmer constantly rabbit-punched in the clinches, though may have not been intentional, due to the awkward nature that Fullmer typically operated with.
Gene hurt Robbie badly with a straight right hand in the waning seconds of the third round, and wailed on him relentlessly. The swell of the crowd was so loud upon this development, that Referee 🕴️Frankie Carter couldn’t hear the bell go off, so Fullmer continued to swing away until Head-Trainer 🥋Harry Wiley & crew stepped in to stop their man from taking unnecessary physical punishment.
Ray rebounded strongly in the 4th with a controlled attack, getting Gene back at his desired range. Whatever Robinson was dishing out, Gene maneuvered forward behind his cross-armed defense, looking to inflict damage to the body, and to wear the elder statesman down. Gene’s accuracy 📈improved as the night went on in the middle rounds, all while varying up his attacks that kept Ray in thinking mode instead of reacting.
The 8th round was the best output in quite some time for Robbie, as he got back to sticking to his guns, and peppering the pronounced brow of Fullmer from long range, which now at this point, showed 🩸blood-smear around the left eye. Gene however started to cook again in the following round, capitalizing on a few rare moments where Robinson telegraphed his punches.
In the last third of the fight, Fullmer ramped up on the pressure, while it appeared that Robbie was running out of gas, and it showed in his reflexes. Ray had a few late round moments, but were too few, and far in between, while Gene stayed consistent behind his work output. The fight reached the 🛎️final bell and went the full 15 rounds.
It was Fullmer who emerged victorious by accurate scoring, via a Unanimous Decision verdict, to secure his defense of the NBA Middleweight Title. This capped their 4-fight rivalry, with Fullmer officially holding a 2-1-1 edge over the ATG.
REVISITING THEIR EPIC 4-FIGHT RIVALRY
A brief recap, Fullmer won their first fight by Unanimous Decision back in 1957, to win the Middleweight crown for the first time in his career. In the rematch held 4 months later, Robinson landed arguably the greatest punch in boxing history, a powerful 💥💪🏿45-check hook counter while backing up (pictured up top), that knocked the iron-chinned Fullmer on his backside, that temporarily relieved Mr. Fullmer of his memories. The third fight was a closely contested one through 15, that was rendered a draw verdict, which made the 4th fight that was chronicled here, the decider, at least in terms of the head-to-head record between the two Hall-of-Fame legends.