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Thread: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

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    Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan
    By Mike Casey drom Boxing Scene

    His was a wonderful, seamless blend of culture and controlled savagery. He stalked and threw punches constantly in the manner of Rocky Marciano, but with far greater education and precision. At his raging best, there didn’t seem to be a single aspect of the game at which Marcel Cerdan wasn’t breathtakingly efficient. Boxing observers looked in vain for any vital physical or mental component that he lacked. He was a natural and versatile predator who could prosper in any given climate.

    Cerdan is something of a strange case among history’s greatest middleweights. He is a stalwart member of most people’s top ten, yet is rarely discussed at length and almost never mentioned in fantasy fights between the elite masters. We hear of Ketchel, Greb, Walker Robinson, Monzon and Hagler. Even Tony Zale, Rocky Graziano, Dick Tiger and Gene Fullmer occasionally get into the mix, largely because they were tough and colourful battlers.

    I tell you now, with utter conviction, that Marcel Cerdan would have given any member of that first half dozen the fight of his life. I certainly believe that he would have been too clever, too rugged and too hard hitting for Hagler. As for the four names that follow, there is no doubt in my mind that Marcel would have taken Tony Zale at any time in Tony’s career and ripped through Graziano, Tiger and Fullmer.

    Perhaps I have already stumbled on one of the reasons for Cerdan’s apparent invisibility. There is a school of thought that Tony Zale was past his best and ready for the taking when Cerdan tore the middleweight championship from his grip at the Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City in 1948. There is undoubtedly an element of truth to that theory, since thirty-four year old Tony was a veteran of 86 bouts by that time and had consistently faced top class opposition. Let us remember too that Zale had lost four years of his career to the Second World War, in which he served as a sailor.

    Yet prior to defending against Cerdan, Tony had never looked fresher or more devastating in concluding his vicious trilogy with Rocky Graziano at the Ruppert Stadium in Newark. Stunning Rocky repeatedly with hard and precise punches, Zale brought the curtain down in classic style in the third round with a memorable one-two of a jolt to the body and a smash to the jaw.

    Zale was the 8 to 5 favourite against Cerdan, yet the French ace dismantled him with a potent mix of surgical precision and brutality. Marcel was a revelation and the American crowd applauded his hard-edged artistry. He was on top of the world, but then everything went horribly wrong. Tragically so.

    He left a sizeable percentage of his earnings from that fight in America as a guarantee that he would return in 1949 to meet Uncle Sam’s selected challenger. Marcel honoured the agreement and made his first defence against Jake LaMotta.

    Cerdan injured his left shoulder in the opening round of that famous fight, battling heroically until the pain forced him to retire at the end of the ninth round.

    Fighting LaMotta with two arms was a nightmare even for a man of Sugar Ray Robinson’s exceptional talent. How good was a handicapped Cerdan? As one ringsider noted, “Even with one good arm, he gave LaMotta all the trouble he could handle.”
    Cerdan, of course, didn’t have to play the good sport and defend against so tough an adversary as Bronx Jake. But that’s the way it was done then. LaMotta himself could have trod water and racked up a few more title defences before entertaining Robinson. Willie Pep and Sandy Saddler could have taken break from sharing each other’s ferocious company. Kid Gavilan could have chosen an easier opponent for his first title defence than the slick and super smart kid from Greenwich Village, Billy Graham. As boxing writer and analyst Al Bernstein once noted, the great fighters of that era consistently fought other great fighters, which is why they are justly celebrated as being among the true giants of the game.

    Cerdan and LaMotta were to fight again, and it is this writer’s opinion that the Frenchman would have regained the championship from the Bronx Bull. Then came the tragedy. After saying goodbye to his wife, who stayed behind to look after the family restaurant in Casablanca, Cerdan boarded a plane back to America and quickly met his death. The plane crashed in the Azores and 45,000 people attended the great fighter’s funeral when his body was returned to Casablanca.

    Cerdan had come and gone like a flash. To those who simply glance at the record books or read the odd article, the Casablanca Clouter must seem little more than a shooting star that exploded sensationally before quickly dissolving back into the stratosphere. Measured against the vast and rich canvas of middleweight history, he does indeed give the impression of being almost a fleeting ghost. He wasn’t. He was all flesh and blood and was one of the genuinely great middleweights.

    Captivated

    Right from his days of knocking out the cream of European fighters, long before he first came to America, Marcel Cerdan captivated everyone who saw him.

    For years in Britain, a great and bitter rivalry existed between Jewish promoters, Jack Solomons and Harry Levene. Both men were feisty businessmen and canny talent spotters. I will never forget the day I called Levene to ask him if he really disliked Solomons. I was sixteen years old, with all the innocent confidence that comes with youth. There was a dramatic pause at the end of the line. Harry was very good at dramatic pauses. Then came his answer. “My next presentation will be the British championship match between Henry Cooper and Joe Bugner at the Empire Pool, Wembley. Do you wish to purchase a ticket?”

    Solomons in particular travelled far and wide in his tireless hunt for freshly cut fighting diamonds. Jolly Jack was a shrewd judge of boxing talent and not an easy man to impress. When he journeyed to Paris and saw Marcel Cerdan, Solomons was left reeling in admiration. On his return to England, he couldn’t summon sufficient praise for the barnstorming Frenchman.

    Jack spoke of Cerdan’s ability to knock out opponents with either hand, with short blasts that travelled a matter of inches and were thrown with great speed and variation. It was Solomons’ belief that Marcel was the greatest fighter France had ever produced, even better than the long-time darling of that nation, Georges Carpentier.

    Great promoters, of course, can make a stay in the Siberian salt mines sound like the vacation of a lifetime. But Solomons was pretty much on the mark in his summation of Cerdan. The Casablanca Clouter was in no way a deception with his powerful arms and shoulders, his barrel chest and his gold-toothed rugged handsomeness. He was every inch a furious fighting man at 5’ 7” and 158lbs, a thinking man’s puncher whose strength and hitting power were allied to an imaginative mind and excellent footwork. How could his footwork be anything less? Playing league soccer for Casablanca had honed his speed and agility and taught him how to manoeuvre his way out of tight corners.

    Cerdan was durable, tenacious, and could fire his damaging punches in rapid-fire bursts of varying permutations. He would set up opponents with vicious digs to the body and fast cracks to the jaw and required the minimum of leverage for his payoff punches.
    A French-Algerian, Cerdan was born in Sidi Bel-Abbes in Algeria on July 22, 1916. His elder brothers all boxed and Marcel decided to follow the family tradition, turning professional in 1934 at the age of seventeen. He was already more than capable of looking after himself, having hacked his way through many fights with street Arabs as a growing boy. In a glittering and tragically abbreviated career, he would storm on to lose just four of his 113 professional fights, scoring 63 knockouts. His sad finale against LaMotta would mark the only time that Cerdan was stopped.

    Paris

    Paris was calling. The boxing fans in the French capital quickly picked up on the exciting exploits of the young Cerdan and demanded to see him. Marcel had campaigned exclusively in Morocco and Algeria for the first three years of his career, bulling and powering his way to 28 successive wins. The Parisiens liked what they saw when he finally shed his cloak of mystery and moved among them to outpoint Louis Jampton in October, 1937.

    Cerdan radiated glamour and charisma and quickly attained celebrity status. His mistress, the legendary singer Edith Piaf, would sit at ringside as her boy cut a swathe through the best fighters that Europe could offer. While the overall standard of European talent was never on a par with the finest of American ring mechanics, it was certainly a lot richer in those heady days of stiff and constant competition. France especially had a productive factory, particularly among the middleweights.

    Cerdan was preceded by hard man Marcel Thil and followed by Laurent Dauthuille, Robert Villemain and Charley Humez. As late as the seventies there would be the fine trio of Jean-Claude Bouttier, Gratien Tonna and the wildly exciting Jean Mateo.
    Like Tony Zale and so many other great boxers, Cerdan’s career was significantly interrupted by the Second World War. He was approaching his twenty-third birthday when he joined the French army shortly after dethroning Saviero Turiello for the European welterweight title. Marcel’s progress was halted for more than eighteen months until France fell to Germany and he returned to the ring in 1941.

    The Clouter quickly made up for lost time. He won the French middleweight title and barrelled through the ranks with a series of exciting victories until gaining his first big break in 1946. Before a crowd of 10,000 at the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris, Cerdan gained an emphatic decision over that most able and cagey of craftsmen, Holman Williams. What made that triumph all the more impressive was that Marcel had battled through much of the fight with a broken hand that prevented him from throwing his destructive, one-two combinations with their usual steam and venom.

    Holman Williams was a big scalp and Uncle Sam had been watching in the form of promoter, Mike Jacobs. Now America wanted a piece of the Cerdan action. Jacobs assured Marcel that he would get top consideration to meet the winner of the forthcoming first match between Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano. In fact the Frenchman would have to wait two years and fight a further thirteen battles before securing his big chance.

    There were two harsh truths to the big delay. Zale became locked in an epic trilogy with Graziano, and Rock-A-Bye Rocky was always going to sell more tickets than Cerdan. More significantly, Marcel still needed to prove that he was the real McCoy to the mighty American market, the heartland of boxing. Hearsay and glowing reports from abroad were all well and good, but the Frenchman needed to go to America and parade his wares before the sport’s biggest and most influential audience. His response to that challenge, and the style and panache with which he stated his case, quickly brought a smile of satisfaction to Uncle Sam’s rugged old features.

    Cerdan was booked to meet the clever, sharp-shooting Georgie Abrams at Madison Square Garden on December 6, 1946. Training in the sweaty and sweltering confines of the Catholic Youth Organization gymnasium in the heart of downtown New York, Marcel became a great source of fascination to the American boxing writers.

    NEA staff correspondent Ned Brown wrote of him: “Cerdan is a rugged mixer, digging in, throwing straight, short punches incessantly from all angles, never clinching, seemingly tireless.”

    Brown also noted Cerdan’s incredible quickness and unswerving commitment. “I never saw a fighter train like he does. On a hot and humid day, the five windows of the gym were shut tight and the pungent smell of the sweat of many fighters was in the air. But Cerdan worked and breathed as if he were in a sylvan suburb.”

    Marcel had based himself in the Long Island suburb of Flushing and argued that he got all the fresh air he needed there. He didn’t care for crowds and worked quietly in the gym with manager and trainer, Luciano Roupp, who took on the additional role of sparring partner. Wearing big gloves, Cerdan stalked and attacked Roupp with thought and purpose, switching his attack from head to body as Roupp raised his guard or stepped back from punches when necessary.

    Marcel pounded the heavy bag with mean intention, but eased up when entertaining several of the amateurs in the gym who volunteered to spar with him. Those in the know saw at once that Cerdan was one tough fellow. Speaking of his youthful street brawls back home with the Arabs who came to test his mettle, Marcel explained simply, “You had to fight or get your head knocked off.”

    Older reporters who had seen the past greats began comparing Cerdan to the Australian ace, Les Darcy. Others described Marcel as a French-African Ace Hudkins.

    Against Georgie Abrams, in a ferocious and bloody contest over ten rounds, Cerdan thrilled his American audience and surpassed all the high expectations of him. Abrams was nobody’s fool. Five months later, he would lose a split decision to welterweight king Ray Robinson at the Garden, a verdict so disputed by the crowd that Robbie would have to listen to a chorus of boos for one of the few times in his golden career. Ray would remark on how difficult it was to hit Georgie with a clean shot. Abrams was a mean hitter too, having decked Tony Zale in their 1941 fight.

    The 30-year old Cerdan hit Abrams with plenty before a crowd of 16,971, even though Georgie, at 28, held the advantages in youth, height, weight and reach. Marcel never stopped throwing punches and rallied viciously whenever the tide turned against him. He was staggered by a right uppercut in the eighth round, but powered back to sweep the ninth and tenth frames with a sustained attack. Cerdan scored the only knockdown of the fight in the ninth when a big left hook to the stomach bent Abrams in half and caused his gloves to touch the canvas.

    The speed and power of Marcel’s varied hooking attacks prevented Georgie from making the most of his effective jab and long, stinging right crosses until the second half of the fight. Cerdan had contracted a heavy chest cold in training for the bout, which had given him considerable muscular pain and prevented him from working out with professional sparring partners. The lack of sufficient preparation showed in his wildness. He missed with many of his punches and slipped to one knee in the seventh round after falling short with a right hand haymaker. Yet his pedestrian moments couldn’t mask his very obvious talent. The American fight fraternity was impressed and wanted more.

    Harold Green

    Cerdan enjoyed contrasting fortunes in his next two American appearances. He won both fights but in very different ways. He was back at the Garden on September 28, 1947, crossing swords with the talented and skilful Harold Green of Brooklyn, who had already fashioned quite an impressive portfolio at the tender age of twenty-two.
    Harold had twice decisioned Rocky Graziano, although Rocky had all but balanced the scales in their third match with one booming right that put Green down for the count. Harold had bounced back to win five straight coming into the Cerdan match, but the New Yorker ran into a firestorm against the blazing Frenchman.

    It was in this short-lived contest that Marcel proved himself a ruthless finisher. Knocking out Green was not an easy thing to do. Only Cerdan, Graziano, Johnny Greco and Paddy Young managed the feat in Harold’s 88 fights.

    The electricity of excitement surged through the Garden crowd of 18,116 when Cerdan struck with a burst of sudden fury in the second round. Mounting a sustained head attack that persisted for some thirty seconds, Marcel broke Green with a crunching right hook to the jaw that spun the youngster sideways and buckled his knees. Harold was in no fit state to continue and the fight was called off after 2.19 seconds of the round.
    Cerdan had notched another quality victory and once again his name was praised in sports pages across the great American divide. Here was a Frenchman who fought like an American! He could do it all! Spectacular!

    Well, every great fighter has a few bad nights and Marcel most certainly had one of his in his next outing. It wasn’t bad at all for the first nine rounds against the rugged and dangerous Anton Raadik, memorably described by one reporter as a ‘rampaging Estonian.’ Raadik did indeed rage, but Marcel raged more to carry a comfortable points lead into the tenth and final round at the Chicago Stadium.

    Then the gods gripped hold of the rug under Cerdan’s feet and gave it an almighty tug. Raadik began to catch Marcel with head punches. Repeatedly so. Worryingly so. Cerdan’s American trainer, Lew Burson, must have felt his stomach bouncing off his shoes.

    It had to happen and it did. A right from Raadik knocked Cerdan down and very nearly through the ropes. Marcel jumped up right away but couldn’t get out of the firing line as his hunter surged forward, firing a combination of punches. Cerdan was driven around the ring and decked again for a count of four. Raadik saw his chance of glory and moved in to grab it with both hands. Back-tracking into a trap of his own making, Cerdan was corralled in a neutral corner as Anton let rip with all he had. A left-right combination caused Marcel to bounce off the ropes and fall for the third time. A less rugged fighter would probably have gone under at that point, but the Frenchman was back on his feet after a ‘five’ count. The bell sounded to end the fight and a dazed Cerdan trudged back to his corner. Manager Lew Burson cradled him in his arms and cried on his shoulder. Both men were clearly shattered by the shocking turn of events. The unanimous decision in Marcel’s favour failed to cut through the gloom in his corner.

    Maybe the Casablanca Clouter wasn’t all he was cracked up to be after all. Maybe he wasn’t such a threat to world champion, Tony Zale.

    Zale at Roosevelt Stadium

    Cerdan was made of stern stuff. All those street fights in his youth had grounded him well in the tough discipline of overcoming adversity. He went back to Paris while he continued to wait patiently for his shot at Zale. In January 1948, Marcel retained his European title with a blistering second round knockout of Giovanni Manca. Less than a month later, the challenge of Jean Walzack was terminated by way of a crushing fourth round kayo.

    Two more victories followed before the next blip, which might well have been the oddly fortuitous defeat that convinced the Zale camp that Cerdan was a safe enough challenger. Marcel lost his European title on points to rugged Belgian Cyrille Delannoit, who carried the nickname of ‘Tarzan’ and had already gained a pair of decisions over the rising Laurent Dauthuile.

    Cerdan quickly balanced the scales, outscoring Delannoit in another 15-rounder, but Marcel’s American admirers must have wondered if he was truly the man to dethrone Zale, Two months after setting the record straight against Delannoit, Cerdan answered the big question in the warm and throbbing atmosphere of the Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City.

    The powerful Frenchman was never better than on that night of September 21, a raging inferno of aggression and deceptive grace. Attacking Tony with intelligence and viciousness, Marcel took control of the fight virtually from the outset as he repeatedly surged forward with an array of punches that jarred and jolted Zale and never allowed him to settle.

    Tony must have wondered where the tornado had come from. He marched from his corner full of confidence at the opening bell, looking relaxed and assured as he fired off punches at his thicker-set challenger. Cerdan, protecting himself ably, waited for a pause in the storm and then erupted with a two-fisted attack that staggered the champion and forced him on the retreat. Zale never got back into the fight. Bewildered by the speed and accuracy of Cerdan’s crashing right hands, Tony was sometimes outpunched by a ratio of three or four to one as the steady beating from Marcel became more intense with the passing rounds. Cerdan would frequently feint with the right, causing Tony to shift into the firing line for the left hook.

    Zale never did lose his withering look of the cold assassin. Nor did he stop punching back. He simply couldn’t make any progress. Those of his punches that were not slipped or blocked were unable to check Marcel’s progress. The Frenchman had set a torrid pace and Tony began to wilt. Mustering all his old know-how, the brave champion had no option but to clinch and muddle his way through the rounds, confining his replies to brief and ineffective bursts of punching.

    By the eleventh round, Tony was holding and hustling desperately when a right uppercut finally unhinged him. In one of the most poignant vignettes ever seen in the boxing ring, Zale tried heroically to remain on his feet as he slumped against the ropes. Then sheer exhaustion cut his strings and he collapsed to his knees as his handlers rushed to his aid.

    It was four o’clock in the morning in Paris when Cerdan’s many fans received the news that their man was the new middleweight champion of the world. In the Montmartre section of town, a big crowd gathered and celebrated joyously. In nightclubs and little street cafes, Cerdan was toasted. People poured onto the streets to discuss the fight after hearing the broadcast on French radio.

    In the Roosevelt Stadium, Cerdan was dazed and uncertain how to react as the stunned pro-Zale crowd gradually drank in the greatness they had seen and gave a roar of appreciation for the new monarch. Accompanied by a phalanx of police offers, Marcel took a good ten minutes to hustle his way through the long tunnel from the baseball dugout to his dressing room.

    “I go home in about two weeks but then I come back here,” said the overjoyed Cerdan in his broken English. He would come back to lose in the cruellest of circumstances. And then he would never come back again.

    When the classic Humphrey Bogart movie, ‘Casablanca’, was made in 1942, Marcel Cerdan was still plying his trade in that neck of the woods, learning the ropes before his graduation to bigger arenas in bigger places. One wonders what old Bogey made of a fellow tough guy like Cerdan.

    Here’s looking at you, kid.

    Mike Casey is a boxing journalist and historian and a staff writer with Boxing Scene. He is a member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) and founder and editor of the Grand Slam Premium Boxing Service for historians and fans (www.grandslampage.net).

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Marcel Cerdan
    (the "Casablanca Clouter")

    BORN July 22, 1916, Sidi Bel-Abbes, Algeria
    DIED Azores, October 27, 1949 (Plane Crash)
    HEIGHT 5-8
    WEIGHT 143-163 lbs
    MANAGERS Lucien Roupp, Jo Longman, Lew Burston
    RECORD 106-4-0 (61 KO)
    Cerdan was a scrappy, hard-hitting fighter who held the Middleweight Championships of the World, Europe and France during his career; He also won the Welterweight Championships of Europe and France

    Herb Goldman ranked Cerdan as the #5 All-Time Middleweight; Cerdan was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1962 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991



    Cerdan-Charron 1946 Fight Video Clip
    Cerdan-Krawsyck 1948 Fight Video Clip

    Cerdan-Zale Signing 1948 Fight Video Clip

    Cerdan-Zale 1948 Fight Video Clip
    Cerdan-LaMotta 1949 Fight Video Clip
    (Press the button at the top of the screen to return)

    1934
    Nov 4 Marcel Bucchianeri Meknes, Morocco W 6
    Nov 12 Benazra Meknes, Morocco KO 5

    1935
    Feb 16 Perez Tercero Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    Apr 13 Max Privat Casablanca, Morocco KO 5
    Apr 13 Benazra Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    -The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
    Jul 5 Mac Perez Casablanca, Morocco KO 2
    Jul 19 Joseph Sarfati Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    Aug 8 Mestre Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    Nov 23 Mac Perez Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    Dec 14 Mac Perez Casablanca, Morocco W 10

    1936
    Mar 4 Antoine Abad Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    Apr 7 M. Hergane Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    Apr 11 Joseph Martinez Taza, Morocco KO 9
    May 23 M. Ricardo Casablanca, Morocco KO 5
    May 27 Kid Abadie Casablanca, Morocco KO 3
    Jun 6 M. Castillanos Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    Jul 19 Joseph Sarfati Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    Aug 2 Al Francis Oran, Algeria KO 6
    Oct 17 Primo Rubio Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    Nov 2 Aisa Attaf Casablanca, Morocco KO 1
    Nov 21 Jean Debeaumont Casablanca, Morocco W 10

    1937
    Jan 16 Aisa Attaf Algiers, Algeria KO 8
    Jan 30 Maurice Naudin Algiers, Algeria KO 3
    Mar 2 Omar Kouidri Rabat, Morocco W 10
    Apr 3 Omar Kouidri Algiers, Algeria W 10
    Jul 3 Ali Omar Algiers, Algeria KO 5
    Aug 2 Kid Marcel Oran, Algeria W 10
    Sep 13 Eddy Rabak Casablanca, Morocco KO 6
    Oct 7 Louis Jampton Paris, France W 10
    Oct 21 Jean Morin Paris, France W 10
    Dec 18 Ifergane Rabat, Morocco W 10

    1938
    Jan 6 Charles Feodorowich Paris, France KO 2
    Jan 13 Eddie Ran Paris, France KO 2
    Jan 20 Jean Zides Paris, France KO 9
    Feb 21 Omar Kouidri Casablanca, Morocco W 12
    -Welterweight Championship of France
    Mar 12 Charles Pernot Algiers, Algeria W 10
    Mar 25 Lucien Krawsyck Paris, France W 10
    Apr 13 Eddy Rabak Paris, France W 10
    May 5 Anacleto Locatelli Paris, France W 12
    May 20 Gustave Humery Paris, France KO 6
    Jun 4 Jean Morin Algiers, Algeria W 10
    -Welterweight Championship of France
    Jul 3 Victor Deckmyn Oran, Algeria W 10
    Sep 15 Al Baker Paris, France W 10
    Oct 27 Amadeo Deyana Paris, France W 10
    Nov 10 Alfredo Katter Paris, France KO 4
    Nov 24 Omar Kouidri Paris, France W 12
    -Welterweight Championship of France

    1939
    Jan 9 Harry Craster London, Eng LF 5
    Jan 21 Ercole Buratti Algiers, Algeria W 10
    Feb 4 Al Baker Brussels, Belgium KO 7
    Feb 20 Saverio Turiello Paris, France W 12
    Mar 22 Felix Wouters Brussels, Belgium W 12
    May 21 Roger Cadot Marseille, France KO 6
    Jun 3 Saverio Turiello Milan, Italy W 15
    -Welterweight Championship of Europe
    Jun 18 Anacleto Locatelli Marseille, France W 10

    1941
    Jan 19 Young Raymond Algiers, Algeria KO 1
    Jan 26 Young Raymond Casablanca, Morocco KO 6
    Feb 2 Victor Fortes Casablanca, Morocco KO 7
    Mar 9 Victor Janas Casablanca, Morocco W 10
    Apr 13 Victor Fortes Oran, Algeria KO 2
    May 4 Omar Kouidri Oran, Algeraia KO 6
    -Welterweight Championship of Europe
    Jun 22 Francois Blanchard Marseille, France KO 6
    Jul 20 Joe Brun Oran, Algeria KO 2
    Sep 13 Roland Coureau Algiers, Algeria KO 9
    Dec 31 Robert Seidel Vichy, France KO 3

    1942
    Feb 21 Fred Flury Nice, France KO 7
    Apr 26 Gustave Humery Paris, France KO 1
    May 17 Fernand Viez Paris, France W 10
    Jun 28 Gaspard de Ridder Paris, France KO 1
    Jul 25 Victor Janas Algiers, Algeria KO 2
    Aug 2 Ben Frely Marseille, France KO 3
    Aug 15 Victor Buttin Algiers, Algeria LF 8
    Sep 30 Jose Ferrer Paris, France KO 1
    -Welterweight Championship of Europe

    1943
    Aug 8 John McCoy Oran, Algeria KO 2
    Sep 12 Omar Kouidri Algiers, Algeria W 10
    Oct 13 Larry Cisneros Oran, Algeria KO 6
    Oct 31 Bulldog Milano Casablanca, Morocco KO 2
    Dec 26 James Toney Oran, Algeria KO 2
    Dec 29 Larry Cisneros Algiers, Algeria KO 2

    1944
    Jan 30 Willie Sampson Casablanca, Morocco KO 2
    Feb 15 Eugene Drouhin Algiers, Algeria KO 1
    Feb 17 Sammy Adragna Algiers, Algeria W 3
    Feb 20 Joe DiMartino Algiers, Algeria KO 2
    -The previous 3 bouts were part of an Inter-Allied
    Welterweight Tournament; Cerdan won
    Oct 21 Bouaya Casablanca, Morocco KO 1
    Dec 12 Clinton Perry Rome, Italy KO 1
    Dec 14 Floyd Gibson Rome, Italy KO 1
    Dec 16 Fred Burney Rome, Italy KO 2
    -The previous 3 bouts were part of an Inter-Allied
    Welterweight Tournament; Cerdan won

    1945
    Mar 9 Joe Brun Paris, France KO 7
    May 13 Jean Despeaux Paris, France KO 5
    Jun 3 Oscar Menozzi Marseille, France KO 3
    Jun 24 Edouard Tenet Croix de Berny, France W 10
    Oct 19 Tommy Davies Paris, France KO 1
    Nov 30 Assane Diouf Paris, France KO 3
    -Middleweight Championship of France
    Dec 8 Victor Buttin St. Etienne, France KO 3

    1946
    Jan 13 Agustin Guedes Lisbon, Spain KO 1
    Jan 18 Edouard Tenet Paris, France W 12
    -Middleweight Championship of France
    Feb 24 Jose Ferrer Barcelona, Spain KO 4
    Apr 14 Joe Brun Nice, France KO 2
    May 25 Robert Charron Paris, France W 12
    -Middleweight Championship of France
    Jul 7 Holman Williams Paris, France W 10
    Oct 20 Jean Pankowiak Paris, France KO 5
    Dec 6 Georgie Abrams New York, NY W 10

    1947
    Feb 2 Leon Foquet Paris, France KO 1
    -Middleweight Championship of Europe
    Feb 11 Bert Gilroy London, Eng KO 4
    Mar 25 Harold Green New York, NY KO 2
    Oct 7 Billy Walker Montreal, Que, Canada KO 1
    Oct 31 Anton Raadik Chicago, Il W 10

    1948
    Jan 26 Giovanni Manca Paris, France KO 2
    -Middleweight Championship of Europe
    Feb 9 Jean Walzack Paris, France KO 4
    -Middleweight Championship of Europe
    Mar 12 Lavern Roach New York, NY KO 8
    Mar 25 Lucien Krawsyck Paris, France W 10
    May 23 Cyrille Delannoit Brussels, Belgium L 15
    -Middleweight Championship of Europe
    Jul 20 Cyrille Delannoit Brussels, Belgium W 15
    -Middleweight Championship of Europe
    Sep 21 Tony Zale Jersey City, NJ KO 12
    -Middleweight Championship of the World
    Dec Dave Andrews Lewiston, Me EX 4
    Dec Cosby Linson New Orleans, La EX 4

    1949
    Mar 29 Dick Turpin London, Eng KO 7
    Apr 8 Lucien Krawsyck Casablanca, Morocco KO 4
    Jun 16 Jake LaMotta Detroit, Mi LK 10
    -Middleweight Championship of the World
    Record courtesy of Tracy Callis and Matt Tegen, Historians,
    International Boxing Research Organization

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    another scorching article by casey,nuff said!!!

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Great stuff Mike about one of the most popular fighters of all time.
    Just a comment or two.
    Cerdan as a welter against Robinson is the match people should be talking about. He had the style as a welter to beat Robbie. Probably the only guy in the era to have that chance. He was at his prime and at his best AS a welter.
    Yes he beat a Tony Zale who still was one formitable fighter who gave away nothing. BUT Tony Zale was much much better before the war from what everyone who was there on the scene tell me.
    I had occasion from time to time to discuss Lamotta v Cerdan with the guy who reffed the bout and he also told me he felt it was very even up to the stoppage, with Jake coming on strong due to the injury.
    Sonny Franzeze told me that the first time Cerdan fought in the Garden and took off his robe the MSG crowd "ooooed" at the size of his shoulders. He was a bull.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    There is a school of thought that Tony Zale was past his best and ready for the taking when Cerdan tore the middleweight championship from his grip at the Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City in 1948. There is undoubtedly an element of truth to that theory, since thirty-four year old Tony was a veteran of 86 bouts by that time and had consistently faced top class opposition.

    I have heard people state this, a lot, or use it to Zale's favour, is the same not true for Marcel? Correct me if I'm wrong there was only 2 years difference between them and they had been fighting for near enough the same time (?).

    I like Tony Zale he is one of those fighters whom I knew instantly was great from the moment I saw him...but I think the 'welter-cum-middleweight' Cerdan could have beaten Zale 8 of 10 times no matter when they fought.

    thoughts.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey


    Marcel Cerdan vs Tony Zale---1948


    Marcel Cerdan vs Dick Turpin---1949


    Marcel Cerdan vs Laverne Roach---1948
    Last edited by kikibalt; 10-31-2006 at 10:24 PM.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    If I may:
    Cerdan inured his left shoulder because Jake body slammed him into the canvas in the first round of their title fight in Detroit.
    Cerdan's style was known as the "Cage" style that most French fighters used at that point in time with his shoulders hunched, chin down, and face protected by his high guard with his forearms turned inward.
    La Motta said he would have taken Cerdan in a return had Marcel not been killed.
    La Motta thought he could beat Joe Louis as well.
    Marcel is one of my top middleweights ever, top five.
    He is perhaps the Greatest European Fighter Ever, and only came and went in a flash in the United States, not the world boxing scene where he was dominant across the pond for many years.
    Karl

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    great article

    but to be honest, i think marcel cerdan is one of the most overated middleweights of all time. he is very unproven in my eyes. hes not a top 10 middleweight of all time IMO.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Elmer I have heard you say this about Cerdan before and I have to admit "it concerns me"...and heres why!

    You are basing your evaluation of Cerdan on European fighters as though they weren't up to it well I have to tell you that this IS A SERIOUS MISDEMEANER. One day Ray you'll probably be a well respected Historian given you keen interest and aquired knowledge of Boxing at such a young age...

    So learn now for that day, Boxing and Boxing fans and Boxing history NEED that... UNBIASED, Non-Partisan and Non-Nationalistic truth from their 'researchers & scribes'!

    Though European fighters were, generally speaking a bit lower in 1st class ability...they certainly WEREN'T all 2cd class.

    1) Cerdans 'era' was generally percieved to be "the Single Greatest Period in Boxing history...

    2) There was only ONE World Champion and Only 8 weight divisions...

    3) Fighters then, fought at their own Natural Weight...

    4) It wasn't good enough to hold titles at your OWN weight, fighters were Always Fighting Up...especially MWs & L-HWs, Top Honours were FOUND among the Big Boys!

    4) The Top 10 from the Worlds LEADING Boxing Nations, LEADING (U.S., Brits, Canada, Auzzies, Euro & S. Africans fighters), were the the Real Deal, certainly thier Champs and Top 3-5 contenders...

    5) "IF" they would have been able to meet on a REGULAR bases, these 'proper top men', Much of boxing history would have been Re-Written...

    6) Protection and Political BullShit aside, Proven TALENT first, Not just Achievements Alone...some were aloud the chance some weren't!

    7) reading ACTUAL reports, from many, many different sources as Barry always points out, is an absolute MUST!

    and last but certainly not least "CROSS Record Checking", some of these so called 2cd raters (???)...

    - Who did they fight...
    - Did they consistantly win and have good/slash great fight records
    themselves (?)...
    - or did they BEAT, or Hold some KNOWN fighters to 'close' distances' defeats
    - did they 'regularily' fight outside their OWN weight class
    - did they stay at the TOP for great periods of time

    these are all Fair & Accurate ways to "Review & Study" and Boxing DESERVES it to say notheing of the Fighters and fans themselves, especially the fighters and Equally the HISTORY.

    I think you'll be a successful Historian some day Elmer,

    be a Good one...

    UNBIASED, Non PATRIOTIC (non Nationalistic), not Held to one division over another (except fo proven periods 40s MWs, 70s HWs and the like), and honest about the RESEARCHED talent of the smaller percentage of fighters from not-neccessarily Boxings Best Nations.

    Some advise from a Boxing lover & fan and maybe one day a fan of yours as a noted Boxing Historian!

    Jim.

    -

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Every historian who ever lived was biased and partisan: it's part of being human!

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Marcel Cerdan
    Well lets just put it this way, if i had Hagler, Robinson, Monzon and the rest of the all time greats in my stable. This is one fighter i would try to avoid a match up with. I rate Cerdan about 5th or 6th in my all time list but he just might have taken them all and i have been following the fight game for about 53 years. As a WW i think he would have given Ray Robinson the fight of his life. But my vote goes to Ray on a points win if i am pushed.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    The things I have difficulty getting past with Cerdan is his losing to Dellanoit and getting dropped three times by Raadik. Both men were contenders, but were not the type of guys one would think of as being threats to beat an all-time great. I cannot visualize Greb, Walker, Robinson, Monzon, or Hagler having that kind of trouble with a Dellanoit or Raadik. Please understand that I am not stating that Cerdan is overrated--he looks great on film. However, I'd like input from the knowledgeable folks here as to how the Dellanoit and Raadik fights do not appear to affect Cerdan's high ranking. I know that the first Dellanoit fight was likely a hometown decision--were there conditioning or health issues for Cerdan in either of these fights?

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    In Short...we are so programmed into believing/FORGETTING that These Guys were Good fighters and TOP men, TOP MEN...look at there own records, who they fought, who they BEAT and who they competed well with!!!

    and as for "the Hero's" (Cerdan & other greats), they Do LOSE Fights, especially when they fought SO OFTEN in those days - the Greatest days...

    if you lose 4-7 fights in 35 or 40 fights, then questions are ASKED and usually 'acceptably' answered... but my God if you lose 35 fights of a 150 fights, at times like that always against other Top men, well thats 'expected'

    but in the case of Cerdan or the Ray Robinsons of the game to lose but A FEW, well thats a down right phenominum...again even the more when a couple of these loses were 'dubious' Cerdan vs Craster (DQ), Cerdan vs Delaniot (?able decision)...

    Come On, What do you want, "think complete, not just 'modern and without really looking/thinking about it!

    Jim.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    In fairness to Marcel, Anton Raadik could ko ANYBODY if he hit him right. ANYBODY. I have heard and heard about his punching power and I heard it from Tony Zale himself. Raadik hit a ton. Remember Artie levine was the same type and he scrambled Ray Robinson's brains for a few rounds. Up to the knockdowns Marcel was far ahead. The Delanoit thing was said to be a poor decison. Remember Ray Robinson as a welter had many tuff calls that might have went the other way had he not been so popular. Servo, Basora, Dellicurti, Brimm, Castellani, etc. The Delanoit bout was in Cyil's homeland.
    Great fighters are not great fighters based on where they come from or if they are unbeatable. Theres a whole lot more to it.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Just read a very interesting story by Dave Anderson, sent to me by my good pal Robert Fanelli in which Jake Lamotta meets with Cerdans son Marcel Jr., and although Jake rates Robinson one and Cerdan two of all the guys he fought, he admits that Cerdan didnt come here until he was out of him prime at 33. He admits had he come here in his prime before the war that he just might have been too much for anyone. Thats the Cerdan Im talking about.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Interesting comment, Rocky. I agree too with your earlier observation on Cerdan as a welterweight. I have some rare film on the way to me from a boxing friend who describes the welterweight Cerdan as 'unbelievably good'.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Ive seen some footage of Marcel as a welter Mike and he was just that, "unbelievably good"!!! In fact in the article George Kantner is quoted as saying that there was talk of matching Cerdan v Henry Armstrong in a welter title bout BEFORE the war. The war stopped that. Imagine that bout!!!!!!

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    There was a documentary here in the UK the other night about the French singing legend, Edith Piaf. I never realised before just how much Cerdan meant to her. When he died, she virtually gave up on life. Her preserved apartment is still full of his boxing trophies and memorabilia.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Two things:
    I am a Cerdan fan, but I don't think Marcel would be "too rugged" for Marvin Hagler, who is the division's poster-boy for ruggedness. Too Hard hitting? Hagler survived the bombs of Hearns, Mugabi, Briscoe, Hart and Roldan- all brutal KO punchers- and never was seriously hurt or floored(the slip in the JR fight aside), so I doubt Marcel's punching power is going to leave much of an impression, either. Cerdan could win a close decision, though. A great matchup.

    The Raadik fight. I've read many accounts, including one in the Chicago papers(Raadik's hometown). Everyone- from fans to sportswriters- was shocked when Marcel went down from that punch. It wasn't a very hard one and most felt that he'd gone down more from exhaustion than anything. The next two "knockdowns" were more punch/shoves along the lines of Bonavena's second knockdown of Frazier.

    Marcel had just arrived here shortly before the fight ill and not in the best shape. I'd heard from a reliable source that he had even vomited in his corner somewhere between rounds 3 and 7. Raadik's hometown paper(and the judges) had Marcel shutting him out up until that last round when he inexplicably started looking exhausted and weak as a cat and going down from punches(and punch/shoves) that didn't look like much to most observers.
    Last edited by Surf-Bat; 06-15-2008 at 02:08 AM.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Just a few nips:

    Contrary to, as always, mis-informed opinion, Cerdan fought a load of quality fighters, not just a supposedly 'stale' version of the man of steel.

    In the new Tyson film, Mike talks about how it was the accuracy of his punches that made them 'brutal'. Cerdan was built along a similar mold - he was extremly explosive and brutal with his accuracy and array of the punches he threw.

    It's impossible to take away from Haglers chin, but Cerdan would test his durability in ways that his often smaller and less physical opponents never could.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    no disputing cerdan here but since it was mentioned that his injured shoulder cost him against la motta isn't it fair to speak to the fact that tony zale fought with a bad left elbow in defending against cerdan? watching film of the fight it seemed evident that tony did not have that same left hook he murdered graziano with.

    greg

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    Ted

    I wouldn't refer to Zale as "Stale". But he clearly was no longer the fighter he was prior to going away for the war for nearly 4 years.

    Rocky Graziano was a tremendous puncher. But I do not beleive he give a Best Version, prime Zale 1/10th of the problems he gave Zale at ages 33 and 34 years old.

    And CERTAINLY, the 36 year old version who squared off with Cerdan in 1948, was no longer the Zale from 1940-41.

    I think Cerdan was indeed a great Middleweight. But I also "measure" out a bit, the value of the win over THAT version of Tony Zale.

    Hawk

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    That's a fair way of looking at things, Hawk, but it's also a good idea to be cautious when matching statistics with performances.

    Some fans say that Gene Tunney had trouble with a 'green' Tommy Loughran, but green or not, maybe the problem is always there - see what Ted Spoon is saying?

    Graziano was nailed to the canvas with little trouble in the third bout, but he was the kinda fighter who would start throwing and cause big problems as he showed against Robinson before he got crunched.

    Still, you state some interesting variables. You can never be cock-sure of particular outcomes, but Cerdan was a lovely fighter; tremendously air-tight with his chin and arms, all kinds of punches in combination and pressure by the truck load.

    While on the subject of 'primes' it has to be said that those who were close to Cerdan felt that he was at his best a handful of years earlier, when continentally confined by war, closer to a Welterweight.

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    That is a more than fair rebuttle

    And one I certainly put some serious stock into as well. Especially the point about Cerdan being a better Welterweight than he was a Middleweight. Whihc DOES say alot.

    As an aside re Graziano Robby: The Knockdown by the Rock, was a Pull Down, ala Roldan Hagler. Take Slo mo peak at it and the punch goes around the back Robby's neck and he's pulled down by Graziano's follow through.

    Not going to fault the Ref for his ruling, but it should no more have been called a Knockdown than what JDR was credited for agianst MMH.

    Hawk

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Frank, can I use that Cerdan-Roach photo in my new book?

    Cheers,

    Ted The Bull

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Cerdan over Hagler in a lopsided decision.

    Whether or not you agree with me would probably depend on whether you agree with me that Leonard won a lopsided decision over Hagler.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Cerdan doesn't fight anything like Leonard.

    He doesn't show any real back-foot, reverse-gear ability in any of the available footage.


    Win or lose it would be very different to the fight with Ray.
    Last edited by starlingstomp; 06-25-2008 at 09:05 PM.

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    Quote Originally Posted by FeltForumFodder
    Cerdan over Hagler in a lopsided decision.

    Whether or not you agree with me would probably depend on whether you agree with me that Leonard won a lopsided decision over Hagler.

    Well, noty lopside, but he sure as hell beat Hagler. And I suspect Cerdan would as well, though it would be a close one..

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    Mooch

    I concur 100%.

    Add on, we'd be talking Prime Middleweight versions of both Hagler and Cerdan.

    Hawk

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    Re: Here’s Looking At You, Casablanca: Marcel Cerdan by Mike Casey

    No middleweight in history wins a "lopsided" decision over Hagler. A win perhaps, but you'll have to explain how Marcel or anyone could win a lopsided decision over a prime Hagler.

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