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Thread: Sugar Ray Robinson vs Charley Burley

  1. #1
    old school student

    Sugar Ray Robinson vs Charley Burley

    Yes this is a long awaited and highly anticipated by me. I REALLY want to know this outcome. I see this as a no brainer! But im in a minority(i think). The fun of the fantasy fight is you can use guy from different era or ocassionally just guys who avoided other guys from a same era. I'm With startlingstomp, you need to envision a multiple fight's to set, apart a real winner. In similation, Burley was dominant. Which i feel is acurate. To me, a just watched The Turpin vs Robinson fight #1. I really envison Turpin being a very similar style to that of Burley. If a young greenhorn like a 22 year old Turpin could win so convincing, against a Robinson in his Utter prime. Then a seasoned fighter like Burley,could certainly do a more systimatic through job than Turpin at 22, could do. If you REALLY think robinson could win, have to Brass to explain to me how you could possiably view turpin to be a better fighter, than Burley. Their style's are very close. Ray wasn't superman, like somepeople want to think, he lost like everyone else! Ray would win maybe two, at least 1 fight in a series, but as Boxingscribe wrote, thats a better than even, chance!

  2. #2
    old school student
    Ireally mean't a five fight series, thats the amount in similation i used, Not a 3 fight series.

  3. #3
    Roberto Aqui


    When they could have met, Ray was still in an invincible phase of his career. He was almost as tall as Charles with as good boxing skills and similar power though more slight.

    Burley was not a big guy, only 5-9, and not esp powerful, less than a 50% KO ratio, so he must have had some good boxing skills and probably good inside skills to be as successful as he was. Still, he lost 12x in less than 100 fights, so he could be beat by lesser fighters than Ray.

    I don't see Ray having to worry about anything but boxing his fight. Ray by UD. Maybe Burley could figure a way to up his game in the rematch, but we'll never know. I don't think Burley is as strong as Lamotta was to outmuscle Ray, so the only way Burley can beat Ray would be to commit to his power and try to KO Ray. I just don't see it.

  4. #4

    Re: Ray

    Old School you're obviously not with me at all.

    My whole point in the Langford thread was about me not being able to relate to fighters i have not seen much of before...at least as it pertains to specific matchups with other greats\fighters of roughly equal value.

    You're stating this a no-brainer when talking about a man you've either seen fight once or not at all.That's exactly the opposite of where i am coming from(though i respect your stance).

    btw, Turpin was in his prime when he fought Robby.He peaked early by most accounts and had lost very few fights.

    I'm impressed by the Turpin i saw in those fights with Ray and feel his relative lack of accomplishments owe more to his mental demons, rather than lack of talent.

    He shouldn't be used as a straw man.

  5. #5


    Aahh. Fantasy Fights.

    Burley and Robinson were signed to meet in Pittsburgh on 10th May, 1946. Let's uppose the fight takes place then (instead of Robinson pulling out).

    Burley was coming off a win against Oakland Billy Smith - a lightheavyweight - and Robinson had just beaten Jake LaMotta (again!!).
    As we all know, LaMotta was the only fighter to beat Ray up to that point.

    Although Burley had a number of losses on his record up to that time, he had lost to fighters who were far more experienced - and no pushovers themselves - such as Zivic, Jimmy Leto and Eddie Dolan. He avenged all but the Dolan loss (never had the opportunity) and besides Ezzard Charles he never failed to beat a fighter in a re-match. No disgrace considering how good Charles would prove to be - even without 10+lb weight advantage. LaMotta and (in his next 'actual' fight), Jose Basora demostrated that SRR was not the second coming.

    The only common opponents (up to May '46) were the aforementioned Fritzie Zivic and also Dave Clark. Robinson stopped Zivic on a late TKO in one of their fights, while Burley stopped Dave Clark in the 1st and Robinson turned the trick in two. Speaking of Clark - Burley was approached in Cincinnati about carrying Clark for 10 rounds (more details in my book)

    Being a natural light-middleweight in the middleweight division Burley gave away weight as a matter-of-course - sometimes to great fighters like Charles, Bivins and Marshall. LaMotta aside, Robinson rarely gave away significant weight. Speaking of LaMotta - when comparing him to Burley and his chances against SRR - Jake may have been physically strong, but he never demonstrated half the power that Burley showed. Here is a 151 pounder who was able to knock over genuine heavyweights and was never really hurt or cut up too badly himself. Also, Burley was roughly the same height as LaMotta, but had a better reach (LaMotta was another who could not be tempted into the ring with Burley, even though he thought nothing of fighting SRR so often). LaMotta's reputation for savagery appears to have been enhanced by a certain movie, yet he had a <30% stoppage ratio. Burley's was slightly better than 50%, but he fought naturally heavier guys - Jake was a small LHW, while Burely was a big WW.

    That's probably were the comparison between Burley and LaMotta should end as they were totally different in styles and temperament. Burley has been accused of being pedestrian at times, but this (I feel) was more about personality than ability (of course one invariably impacts upon the other).

    Burley usually didn't extend himself unless he had to or if he didn't like the guy in front of him. I have heard it from the mouths of some of Charley's closest friends that he didn't like cocky fighters and he usually gave them a little extra. He didn't like Archie Moore (though that changed after they fought), he didn't like Billy Smith and he felt the same about Jack Chase and Ray Robinson. Charley wanted to fight Ray in the worst possible way.

    Skill-wise it is a close thing. Robinson had terrific foot-work, but Burley moved a little like Joe Louis and was always in position to punch. Burley was able to unload from just about any angle or position and liked to feint opponents, drawring shots for counter-punches from seemingly awkward/impossible angles. I feel this would off-set Robinsons advantage in the jab department.

    I think the 1946 Ray Robinson has to go some to beat Charley Burley - and he may have. The only thing that shines light on a likely outcome is that Robinson twice pulled out of fights with Burley. Besides the 1946 non-fight Jake Mintz approached Burley with a three fight series - but he had to lose the first. Charley wouldn't go for it.

    The 1946 bout never came off as Robinson, after agreeing terms, decided to increase his demands with regard to his purse. The money he wanted killed off any chance of it ever happening. Apparently a favourite tactic of Robinson's (and many other fighters and mangers).

    Ray Robinson didn't want to fight Burley for some reason (though not part of the debate here), but Burley wanted Robinson. I think that fact adds another point to what is already a huge list of intangibles that are often not considered when thinking of fantasy fights such as this.

    And that's what they are - Fantasy. Mine has Burley winning and getting a late crack at a middleweight title held by Tony Zale. Burley wins, successfuly defends against Graziano, Cerdan, LaMotta and Robinson (again) in front of sell-out crowds, before turning his back on the fight game.

    In retirement he wonders what it would be like to haul other people's garbage for 30+ years instead of living a quiet and comfortable life in sunny California.

    Aahh, fantasy - I love it.

  6. #6

    Re: Burley-Robinson

    How can anyone call this a no-brainer. There's hardly any film of Burley and none of a prime Rob. From what I've READ I see this being a terribly dull, boring fight (and the likely real reason Burley was ducked by the monied powers was that his fights were boring).

  7. #7

    Re: Burley-Robinson

    So Robinson didn't fight Burley because Burley was boring?

  8. #8

    Re: Burley-Robinson

    No...I meant that Burley wasn't given chances for big money because he was considered a no-sell as much for style as for social/racial reationale.

  9. #9



    I think you are right on a couple of points. Burley was possibly a no-sell on occasion and Robinson may well have been one of those fights. I also that think that fighters who avoided Burley would hardly have been thinking of entertainment value as a payday was a payday, was a payday. Money was put on the table for proposed Burley matches and certain guys didn't want it.

    In defence of Burley it should be pointed out that he was in some good fights - his performance against Archie Moore could hardly be viewed as pedestrian for example - and his fights with Jack Chase, Holman Williams and several others 'read' as exciting - sadly we can't get to see them and make a more informed decision. Burley was also in some stinkers - Tiger Wade especially and the second Lytell fight - to be fair though, not too many fighters were dynamite every time the put on a pair of gloves. This was work to them and it must have been very difficult to get up for a day at work you didn't fancy too much.

    However, I take your general point about the social/racial rational.

    As a side issue, I also read your response to oldschoolguy (or whatever his handle is) with regard to Robinson and the black fighters he avoided. This guy has posted on the same topic on Boxrec and for some reason will not accept actual timelines, weights or any other factor (with regard to SRR and Cocoa Kid especially). I don't know if your input will have any impact on his mission to get Lloyd Marshall (or Burley, Bivins, Cocoa Kid, Holman Williams, Jack Chase, Eddie Booker etc. etc.) and Robinson into the ring. Hopefully.

    I like the fact that he is questioning Robinsons god-like status among boxing fans, but I could think of better arguements and he is getting a little boring with it now.

    As you also pointed out, I think of all the fighters he mentioned, only Burley was near the right time/weight frame for Ray. Sadly it never came off.

  10. #10

    Re: Burley

    I made that post for those who may read his nonsense and not realize that he's just a board troll who likes to see people get stirred up. He's full of shit and knows it...trust me.

  11. #11
    Benny the kid

    Re: Crold 1

    Now that wasn't very nice! crold 1. What's a board troll?
    Full of bullshit, no way.
    I may be 15, but boxingscibe, can see the other side of the coin, like me.

  12. #12


    Yes i can understand Oldschool in his opinion thinking that Ray Robinson was overrated but many experts who have seen in person Robinson fight live would disagree with him. What i cant understand is why he keeps bringing up these other fighters he says Ray avoided. When it has been pointed out time and time again to him by many here the reasons why Robinson did not meet these guys. As Boxscribe and many others said and no one is disputing this, Robinson could have fought Burley but for reasons we can only guess at the match never came off even though i believe they were due to meet.

    Would Burley have beaten Robinson that we again can only guess at. Burley was one great fighter i have no doubt about that. Then again Robinson himself was not exactly bottom drawer material. If they had met my personal leaning is towards Robinson with Burley taking one out of three fights. Nevertheless my own personal pick and i imagine most experts who just like Oldschool have a right to there opinion would go for Ray Robinson as the number one Welterweight and certainly in the top five at Middleweight. Personal i think myself that Oldschool trying to make us change our minds about Rays place in boxing history has now run its course as i dont feel he has managed to convince any of us. Of course others might feel different i agree.

  13. #13

    Re: Re

    How can anybody make a pick on this fight since no one on this board has ever seen Burley fight? As to why he didn't fight Ray it's all about the $$$. Burley's rep is much higher now than when he was actually fighting. He was never considered a big drawing card so why fight a dangerous guy for a crappy payday?


  14. #14

    Re: Re

    Don't know much about Burley but if Eddie futch said he was 1 of the greatest boxers he ever saw thats enough for me.

  15. #15
    The shoemaker

    Re: Burley-Robinson

    First off, Ezzard Charles did NOT have a 10+ llb weight advantage when he beat Burley. He had a 6 llb advantage in their first fight and a 9 llb advantage in their second meeting. Charles easily won both fights. You are also wrong when you stated that Lloyd Marshall had a weight advantage over Burley. Burley outweighed Marshall by 6 llbs, a bout in which Marshall dropped Burley twice in winning a decision over this "unbeatable" fighter. It also sort of slipped your mind the fact that when Ezzard Charles fought and easily beat Burley, Charles was 20 years old, had only been fighting for two years, and according to box-rec only had twenty two fights before meeting Burley. On the other hand, burley was in his prime when he met Charles having nearly 60 fights. another fact that you forgot to mention was that Charles weighed 160 llb's in the second fight with Burley (the one that he had the 9 llb weight advantage). Since we are argueing middleweight greats, it's not Charles' fault that Burley only weighed 151, Charles is fighting him at the middleweight limit. And since you stated that Burley, after beating Robinson, would clean up the middleweights of the 1940's, how does he beat Charles ? Especially since Charles at AGE TWENTY kicked his ass twice (one time and you could claim fluke or Charley didn't take him seriously, or some other excuse-but twice - IN PITTSBURGH ?) Like most people you've either never seen Burley fight or you've seen him fight once against Oakland Billy Smith. So it's strange that all these people are so confident of his greatness. Personally, I think Charley's one of these "flavor of the month fighters", where someone looks impressive by naming an all time great that most havn't heard of. As far as Burley-Robinson: at least off of the Billy Smith fight, Burley's a lean-back fighter, which means as long as Robinson leads to his body (which Robinson could do) he should be effective inside with his quicker hands (I can at least tell on tape that Robinson's hands are faster than Burley's). as long as Ray doesn't go head hunting or right hand crazy, he should be all right. Amazing, that people are so in awe this guy (Burley). I mean he lost practically every big fight he was in except Moore (who wasn't the best middleweight of the era) and Holeman Williams, who also beat Burley (as did Coco Kid). Like i said Marshall beat him, apparently easy, and a twenty year old Charles beat him twice
    Lastly Box scribe, explain to me in your fantacy about Burley cleaning up the middleweights of the 40's, how does he get past Charles ? Of coarse i am assuming that is no WWII (and no racism), and Charles doesn't lose to Bivins and Marshall fighting them while on leave.

  16. #16



    Is your response a defence of Charles, a defence of Robinson, an attack on Burley or an attack on me for my opinion about a FANTASY fight?

    I don't recall pointing an accusing finger at Ezzard Charles for being bigger than Burley - no one said anything was 'his fault', especially being bigger, younger or better.

    Where did I state that Charles (or Marshall for that matter), did not deserve their victory over Burley?

    Where did I state that Burley cleans up the middleweight division?

    You are right about one thing though, Burley is one of those "flavor of the month fighters" and this is just a case of someone looking impressive by "naming an all time great" that most haven't heard of."

    Was that you that referred to Burley as an all-time great?

    Anyway, welcome to the board.

  17. #17
    The shoemaker

    Re: Burley

    My apologies if I misinterpreted your remarks. Too me you were building up Burley, which is natural, since the crux of your argument (or fantasy) was that Burley would "defeat Robinson, go on to win the title from Zale, then successfully defend against LaMotta, Cerdan, Graziano, and Robinson before turning his back on the game". To me that's cleaning up the division. You also stated that he gave away weight to great fighters such as Charles, Bivins, and Marshall. I mearly pointed out that that was incorrect in the case of Marshall, since it was Burley who held the 6 llb weight advantage. Maybe that was nit-picking on my behalf, but I thought it was a significant part of your thesis (Burley beating Robinson, then winning the title and retiring undefeated), so I attacked it. Same with his losses to Charles. Obviously, (at least according to your latest post) it wasn't your intention to downplay Charles' wins over Burley, but I mistakenly read it that way. You did point out that Charles did hold a 10+ pound weight advantage on Burley, which I pointed out was wrong. To me, you were downplaying Charles' wins to strengthen your argument that Burley beat SRR, and cleans out the division. Apparently i misread it, but i am sure you could at least understand why I misread it.
    My piece was probably mostly an anti-Burley piece, who i think is way overrated. I viewed your's as a pro-Burley piece and attacked some of your comments. But no, it wasn't designed as an attack on you. Yes, I do think charles is way underrated as a fighter. In fact ironically, I think that Charles' wins over Burley are the greatest obstical to anyone who thinks that Burley is the dominant middleweight of the 40's (and therefore an all time great). I am not saying that you subscribe to that theory. The Burley supporters can't get around charles (kind of like the Liston people can't get around Ali, unless they claim the fights were fixed, or that Sonny was 40 years old) so they have to imply that Charles held this huge weight advantage or that Charles was a Light Heavy. Fact was they are wrong on both counts. My point was that yes, Charles did hold a 9 llb advantage, but he still weighed 160 for the fight. The Burley supporters would have an argument if Charles was say 168, then they could say that charles wasn't a middleweight. I also highlighted Charles' age when he beat Burley. To me that's the most overlooked and damaging evidence to Burley. Burley was in his prime when they fought and Charles was about 7 years away from being in his prime (1948 he KO'ed Marshall, Bivens, and Moore). sorry about dragging on but i'll nit pick some more (nothing personal) You stated that you believed that LaMotta and Robinson ducked Burley. On Robinson, yes, most definatly. But Robinson was ALWAYS a buisnessman first, fighter second. There are numerous cases where he overpriced himself, such as a third fight with Basilio or a title fight with Moore. His reputation as a almost impossible to deal with barginer is legendary. No, he is not risking his mind-blowing record against Burley, Holeman Williams, Eddie Booker, Ezzard Charles
    or any other black middleweight of the era (and probably some white ones as well). Because from a buisiness standpoint
    he is in a no-win situation. Most of the public arn't aware of these guys, so if robinson beats them so what, but if he losses then his "mystic" is diminished. Losing to LaMotta doesn't hurt, plus he got paid a ton for fighting Jake, who also had a huge following (especially in New York and Detriot). Of coarse Burley, Booker, and Holeman Williams want to fight Robinson, not only do they get big-time recognition if they win
    but they get paid a ton (for them) by fighting him (Robinson's garbage purse is a ton for those guys) Instead they wind up kicking the crap out of each other in multiple wars. As for LaMotta ducking him. Not sure. LaMotta did fight Lloyd Marshall, who beat Burley. He also fought and defeated Holeman Williams, who months earlier had defeated Burley. Like
    I said with Robinson, Lamotta probably couldn't make the money that justified the risk by fighting Burley. People forget that boxing's a buisness, take Joe frazier for example. if your Yank Durham and you have the choice of matching Frazier up with Joe Bugner in England or Ron Lyle in Denver who do you fight ? To me it's a no-brainer. I think people got spoiled by Muhammad Ali, who fought anyone anywhere. Sorry about the length. Take Care.

  18. #18

    Charles et al.

    I agree with the majority of your points about Burley and Charles. Charles was very young when he fought Burley (just shy of 21) and Burley had the advantages in age (at 24) and pro experience. What is sometimes easy to lose sight of is the fact that Charles also had a very good amateur pedigree and was matched with very good fighters almost from the outset of his career.

    I do think you are nitpicking a little over the weights, but the point was made with regard to the fact that Ezzard Charles was a difficult test for anyone around that time - without an advantage in weight to boot!

    At the time it was considerd that Burley lost to someone he probably should have beaten. Who knew then how good Charles would prove to be? Also, Charles may not have had 10lb+ on Burley, but 160 (first bout), was as light as Charles ever was as a pro. The 160+ that he was for the second fight is - like it or not - outside the middleweight limit and Charles was a light-heavyweight for that fight - and every other fight after it.

    It could be argued - as you say - that Burley underestimated Charles the first time around and had his chance for revenge in an almost immediate re-match. Burley failed to beat Ezz, but it was Burley who had a fight against a top-ten rated opponent in between fights whilst Charles rested. This is not to say that Burley would have won a re-match if he had rested up, as Charles did, but is mereley another 'intangible' to consider.

    Burley admitted in an interview immediately after the second fight that, while he usually had no trouble with middleweights, Charles was a little too big and too strong for him. Considering Charles would outgrow the division in very short order and go on to (literally) bigger and better things, it is no disgrace to lose to him.

    With regard to Lloyd Marshall (and I am making an assumption here), you appear to have gotten the bulk of your information from BoxRec. Marshall was the heavier fighter of the two - the weights on BoxRec are the wrong way around. Also (something you wont find on BoxRec), Burley had a hand injury prior to the bout with Marshall and was icing it in the 24 hours before the fight in order to get the swelling down and pass the medical. Burley re-injured the hand in the fight with Marshall and was effectively a one-handed fighter for the bulk of the bout. Burley also lost a split decision to Marshall - although Marshall appeared to have won upto seven of the ten rounds and was thought to have gained the advantage by scoring two knockdowns (one for a no-count). This is not to take anything away from Marshall's win - just other facts to be considered outside of the win-loss column on a record.

    Burley's injury was such that he had to pull out of a pre-arranged fight with (Alex) Watson Jones the following week and Aaron 'Tiger' Wade took his place (and won).

    If you are going to use Marshall's as a yardstick - in that he beat Burley and LaMotta - you should also consider that Marshall lost to fighters that Burley beat (Shorty Hogue, Moore, Jack Chase and Billy Smith - and Burley beat all of them handily).

    As for Burley cleaning out the division, I think you should read my post again. What I actually referred to was that Burley (in my fantasy), wins a late shot at the middleweight title, then defends against the fighters below him, retires and goes off to live in the sun instead of having to haul garbage for 30 odd years to earn a crust.

    Who would deny this to the guy in a fantasy scenario?

    Besides, if Burley did get a shot at Zale (instead of Cerdan - who also ducked Burley), I think he could have beaten Zale at that time. I also think that Burley could have beaten LaMotta (Lloyd Marshall also thought so). I feel the same about Graziano.

    Also, Burley 'getting past' Ezzard Charles at that time would not have been an issue as Charles was already in the next division and therefore wouldn't be a factor.

    Economics may have played a role in an up-and-comer (a-la Robinson), balancing out a 'risk V reward' scenario when it came to a match with Burley, but for established title challengers to be able to side-step him and get a title shot ahead of him is not the same.

    To argue that Burley was not a 'draw' works for the above scenario (as in SRR's case), but doesn't hold up to the same extent when it comes to a title fight. Plenty of 'lesser' fighters got a shot at the title and failed. Fight fans turned out for title fights (generally). Why would the same numbers not turn out to see a world middleweight championship bout between Zale and Burley?

    You admit that your piece was 'anti-Burley', because mine was pro Burely and you think the guy was overrated. You are entitled to your opinion. I don't feel he was/is overatted because my research on Burley - and his opposition - goes beyond what BoxRec tells me and while some people seem to think the sun shines out of SRR's nether regions I am not one of them. I think his career at middleweight doesn't stack up against other fighters at the same weight. Robinson as a welterweight is a different story, but I feel he was not as good at middleweight and - IMO - Burley (in 1946) beats him.

    Of course we will never know, but what should be remembered is that Robinson pulled out of a fight with Burley - it never happened the other way around!

  19. #19
    The shoemaker

    More on Burley

    In regards to Charles' weight, yes he did fight over 160, but he could have easily made 160 for a title fight, until he went into WWII. I mean he was 161 for Basora in 1942, so I doubt if sweating off the extra pound would have had any effect on him. Conservatively, he'd probably make the weight until 1944, but we'll never know because he was in the service. Now when he came out of the service he was definatly a Light Heavy.
    I'd make a simular arguement on Burley though. if you are going to argue a Robinson-Burley match in 1946
    you have to factor in that Robinson has ALL the leverage in negotiations, and he would use them to his advantage, especially if he took a risk against Burley. I have no doubt he'd force Burley to meet him at Welterweight. Of coarse Burley would do it, but I'd say by 46, Burley would have a tough time making Welterweight and I think it would impact the fight.
    To me Burley's lumped in with the other black middleweights of that era. No one talks about Eddie Booker as this mystical figure, but his credentials are just as good as Burley's (they make a big deal about Burley's lopsided decision over Moore, but they ignore that Booker stopped Moore around the same time. Same with Holeman Williams, based on their head-to head, they are about even. The big one is Charles. I mean it was a joke that IBRO rated Moore over him at Light Heavy, giving their ratings NO CREDIBILITY. To me that's like rating Gavalin ahead of Robinson at Welterweight. Now everyone's on the Burley bandwagon at Middleweight, totally neglecting the fact that Charles as a 20 year old beat a prime Burley twice. Why arn't they raving about Charles as a middleweight ?
    Certainly racism kept Burley out of the title picture, but I could make the same case for Booker, Williams, Charles, Moore, Chase, ect. (of coarse LaMotta
    didn't get a deserved title shot during that era, due to his lack of connections). Simply it's a case of risk-reward
    Why would a white title holder want to risk losing his title
    when he could get away with ducking a black contender. Since the majority of the boxing customers in that era were white, (especially the ones with money) I'd assume that they'd rather see two whites in the ring (especially factoring ethnic pride with Italion and Eastern European decent fighters). Robinson and Louis were the exceptions, since they both had a mystic and people were in awe of them (plus I am sure a lot of racists rooted against them, which meant more interest). i am sure a promoter would rather have Graziano-Zale three times than Burley-Eddie Booker.
    I wouldn't say Burley over LaMotta in 46 is a sure thing (you didn't use those words, but ...) Burley appears to be in decline, while LaMotta seems to be getting better. He did beat Holeman Williams (one of these days I'll check the microfilm on that fight) in 46, who like i said was still tough enough to beat Burley a year earlier (although Williams is in a faster decline than Burley). It sure as hell isn't an easy fight for Burley. As far as Lloyd Marshall saying Burley was better than LaMotta, there was some bad blood between the two. i did see newspaper accounts of LaMotta-Marshall (I don't just use Box Rec). Typical Jake fight. Marshall beats on him for about 7 rounds than fades from beating on him. Then Jake starts pummeling a spent Marshall with Marshall holding out at the end. Of coarse, Jake being Jake bitched about the decision (most had it 7-3) saying that if it were a 15 round fight he'd have knocked Marshall out, and that he wanted a 15 round rematch in Detroit. Marshall had a bitch of a time making 161, which was the contract weight for that fight. in fact he never went that low again, opting to fight as a Light heavy.

  20. #20

    Re: More on Burley

    You are obviously an Ezz fan (as am I). I know he was 161 for Basora, but look at how his weight went up after that fight. I doubt he would ever have made 160 after Burley or Basora.

    As far as the IBRO is concerned, I think Moore gets the nod over Charles due to his accomplishments at the weight - not the fact that he was considered a better all-round fighter. Ezz rates highly in the same ratings at LHW and HW, but not MW as he was not there long enough. Probably the reason why people are not high on Ezz at middleweight. Admittedly his respect at any weight seems to have been slow in coming.

    I think Booker is just a step behind Burley. I am a massive fan of all of these guys - especially Burley, Booker, Holman Williams and Marshall and I think it is sad that they never got any kind of a shot. I don't see how Marshall and LaMotta having issues would impact on a private comment Marshall made to a sparring partner with regard to LaMotta's chances with Burley, et al.

    Booker was probably the most unfortunate of them all as he was forced to retire in 1944 due to eye trouble. Who knows what he could have done. Chances are he would have met Ezz at some point as he too was moving up through the weights. Now that would have been interesting - especially when you look at their respective records.

    As far as Robinson goes - the original subject of this thread - he most likely did hold all the cards, but he must have been aware of Burley's weight during negotations for the May '46 fight, yet he agreed to the match only to pull out at the last minute. Another point is that Burley was offered a series with Ray, but was told he had to lose the first match.

  21. #21
    The shoemaker

    Re: More on Burley

    Obviously, you and I could go around and around until our argument dwindles into a circular arguement. You do at least back up your opinions with facts, although I would warn you about source criticism (remember you are reading pro-Burley sources-not saying that they are fabrications, but Burley having to throw the first Robinson fight in order to get a series ?, I'd need a lot of proof before i believed that) I've read where people on this site take the athletic feats of Jim Jeffries as the gospel, however if you look at the world track records of 1900, Jeffries would be a world record holder in about 7 events ! I too have read the Burley book excerps and articles of the time offered on this site and others, and have his fight against Oakland Billy Smith on video. He definatly has some positive things going for him, but he does have some chinks in his armor. I'd argue that his style makes him winnable against practically everyone, but he'll also lose to inferior fighters at times because of it (some of his fights were probably closer than they should be-a lot of counter punchers were that way). I'd argue that he's probably underrated in the 40's and overrated today.
    As far as Charles getting shafted at two weights by IBRO. The IBRO ratings were based on the combined totals of it's members, rather than a unified decision. Like at Middleweight, some had Charles in their top 5 some didn't even list him. In fact i was argueing with a friend of mine that votes that charles should be around 4or 5, and that was based on his losses to Marshall and bivins, now that I found out he fought those guys while on leave, I'd possibly argue him for #1 or #2 (if those are valid excuses for his losses, although Marshall was always a pain for him). But like you said, he's more of a Super Middleweight in 1943.
    As far as Robby being overrated as a Middleweight- probabably. But remember, he is past his peak when he finally becomes a middleweight (actually he's like Burley in the early 50's more of a Jr. welterweight). Most people blast him for losing to Turpin in 1951. But I doubt if he took Turpin that serriously considering that he fought Delannoit 9 days earlier (Delannoit's claim to fame was defeating a prime Cerdan, which leads me to believe that Cerdan was overrated), and Turpin was a Euro, and most US fighters had Euro biases at that time. Plus Turpin was strong and I think a tougher fighter than most people give him credit for at the time. Robinson's KO punch of him was spectacular and I'd argue that Turpin was never quite the same afterwards (although he wasn't shot at 22). People shrug off his near win against Maxim, but he did come within an eyelash of being the first standing middleweight champion to beat the lightheavyweight champion
    Yes, Maxim was tailor-made for him, and robinson knew better than mess with Moore (who took the title from Maxim on Maxim's next defense) but had Robinson beaten Maxim, i am sure he would have finished his career by getting KO'ed by Walcott for the heavyweight title.
    No the comeback Robinson wasn't dominant, but like Ali in the 70's he was dominant in spots. You have to cut him some slack in that he was facing animals like Fullmer and Basilio in his late 30's early 40's. That KO of the iron-chinned Fullmer was spectacular as well. The trouble was when he fought these pressure fighters like Fullmer and Basilio, he had to give away rounds. I know most of his opponents wern't big hitters, but still like LaMotta in the 40's, they were tough to fight. Sometimes great technical fighters like Robinson have trouble with awkward fighters, who wing punches from all sorts of weird angles (look at Winkey Wright -Soliman). I'd argue that the Robinson of the early 50's is probably a top 5 all time middleweight, definatly not the nearlly unbeatable force he was at welterweight, but certainly a force. I think a lot of people don't like Robinson because like I said, he was a buisnessman first - fighter second, who always overvalued himself in contract talks. I think the Robinson of the 50's and 60's was strictly in boxing for the money. Funny thing was that when he was completly broke in the 60's he came off his high horse in negotiations offer to fight Archie Moore, but by then no one cared about a fight between two old geezers.
    Last point (after a 500 word essay) the reason I'd pick Robinson over Burley is that I don't like Burley's old-style "lean-back" especially against a fighter with Robinson's skills. Billy Smith was an idiot who kept head hunting and Burley countered the shit out of the bigger, slower Smith. Robinson could and would go to the body, or he could out box him and thereby forcing Burley to lead, something he judging from his style (and the Smith fight) apparently didn't like to do
    That's probably why an excellant boxer like Holeman Williams gave him fits.

  22. #22


    You're right, we could go around forever on this subject, but the bottom line of your last mammoth post (which is a good thing, not a bad thing), is that you feel Burley, based on his style (which admittedly you don't like), would not be able to deal with Robinson's body attack.

    In an earlier post you argued that myself (or Burley supporters like me), had only seen the one film of him (against Smith) and - as a result - could not know that much about him, yet you use the same film as evidence as to how Robinson would beat him.

    I feel that a couple of things that should be considered when viewing this fight is that Burley had already beaten Smith quite easily and had already signed to meet Robinson just two weeks later. His payday was a mere $3,000 and the fight was just another payday to him as Smith's state LHW title (won on a KO against Marshall), was not on the line.

    One of Burley's sparring partners told me that Burley carried Smith for the payday and so as not to frighten off Robinson. The latter tactic of course failed to work out. This same person told me that he trained with Burley in the gym the day before the fight and Charley was weighing 154 after a very light workout. Smith was a natural LHW and Burley a natural LMW. How many other fighters gave away this kind of weight and how many would do it today with such scant rewards on offer? Even fewer would chose to slug it out with a naturally bigger guy who was a proven hitter.

    You also claim that:

    "Billy Smith was an idiot who kept head hunting and Burley countered the shit out of the bigger, slower Smith."

    Smith was smart enough to beat a lot of good fighters - ask Lloyd Marshall. I think it is stretching it to call Smith an idiot - especially based on that one viewing. He may well have head-hunted in that fight, but that was his plan. Smith had been lambasted in the press after the first Burley fight due to his poor showing. He wanted to beat Burley in the worst way and he tried - even fouling - and losing points several times (which you don't get to see in the film of the fight, but they are in the press reports afterwards). Yet Burley appears to toy with him.

    You also stated that:

    "Robinson could and would go to the body, or he could out box him and thereby forcing Burley to lead, something he judging from his style (and the Smith fight) apparently didn't like to do"

    Yes, Burley was predominantly a counter-puncher, but his style was based on his physical and psychological make-up. He had very long arms for his height and weight - great tools for a counter-puncher.

    Burley also never extended himself any more than he had to and if he didn't like a guy too much, he would go after them more. The fighters that beat him (besides when he was starting out), were usually naturally bigger (i.e natural middleweights who would grow even bigger), as well as taller (Burley was just 5'9''), had good boxing skills and as good a reach. Ezzard Charles, Jimmy Bivins and Lloyd Marshall are names that spring to mind. Look at how good these guys were. They would go on to be rated in the LHW and HW divisions and were either legitimate or 'duration champions'. Not one of these guys stopped Burley and besides Charles - who appeared to have his number - they were rattled by Burley in their fights. In fact Bivins was stumbling around the ring in the final seconds of the last round after Burley caught him with an uppercut that probably would have put someone his own weight down and out.

    You also stated that Holman Williams gave Burley fits. what is your point of reference for this statement? Burley had around 30 fights when they first met, while Williams had around 80! Burley had Williams down three times in one round and then pulled his shoulder out helping Williams back into the ring!! He then beat him the next three times they met and when they met for the 5th time Burley was ahead when the ref called it a No Contest in the last round. (There was much suspicion regarding the bout with regards to the betting and both fighters and referee were hauled before the commission - all were exhonorated).

    Williams did win the last two fights, but these guys knew each other very well and Williams knew that Burley had the ability to stop him, while he did not hold the same power. Burley himself called Williams a great boxer, but described him as 'a runner'. It is more likely that Burley gave Williams fits - not the other way around.

    I have studied Burley's career in depth and I still feel that he had a very good chance of defeating Robinson (and other fighters that he never got to meet) around the time that the fight should have taken place (1946).

    The statement about Burley being asked to lose a bout to Robinson came from Burley himself. He said he was approached by Jake Mintz and was made the offer. I know this is from what you might deem a 'biased' source, but this is years after the fact. I also feel that Burley was a very honest man and this - if anything - is most likely the reason he never got the fights he wanted.

    PS It is strange you citing Jim Jeffries athletic prowess in this post. I just finished watching a documentary on Jeff immidately prior to sitting down at the computer. 100 meters in 'just over 10 seconds' is better than good for a guy his size. I wonder who was counting?!

  23. #23
    Roberto Aqui


    RE: Jeff's track prowess.

    The Olympic 100M medalists went 11-11.3 sec in 1900.

    Jeffries was alleged to run 100 yrds in a little over 10 sec, say around 10.3 or so, which translates to 11.3 or so 100M time. That's fast, but what's alleged is probably his best time ever. The world record was 10.8, which is a 9.8 100 yrd time.

    The ability of a HS senior to come within a half sec of the WR sounds reasonable, but fast. Some of the guys in my Sr class were in the low 10s when the WR was 9.1. Let's also remember that Jeff was probably only a 170lber as a 17 yr old, still maturing Sr, not the 220 lb monster prone to weight gains between bouts.

    Johnny Lam Jones famously matched the world record down in my neck of the woods back in the mid 80s as a HS Jr as I recall. He also played football and went to UT on a dual scholarship, so he never concentrated enough to break the record. I think he won a gold medal at the Olympics and then played pro ball and was out of track. He can barely walk today and deathly ill. Weird how that works out.

    I have no idea how valid Jeff's claims were, or what he ever stated about them, but it sounds reasonable even if it was exceptional.

    Now, who had the fastest 100M time, Charly or Robby?

  24. #24
    The shoemaker

    Jeffries and more Burley

    On Jeff's Track acheivements : actually I'd say since he did them in HS, which would be circa 1892-93, the World records of that era would be more accurate (they're probably not as good as 1900). Plus they had Jeffries Long Jumping, High Jumping and everything else, that would have World records at the time. the first time I ever read that was in David Willoughby's book (I can't remember the title), which had something to do with strongmen. Of coarse all of the best athletes in everything (boxing included) were from the late 19th early 20th Century.
    On to Burley-Robinson. I've seen more Billy Smith fights than just the one against Burley (Archie Moore, Harold Johnson, and I can't remember the third). It's a bad film to judge Robinson-burley off of. since Smith is a slow slugging Light Heavy, and Robinson's a lightning fast welterweight. Smith basically shoves Burley around, often fouling (rough house stuff-get's warned a bunch of times), but tries to head hunt and thereby reaches and gets countered by the much faster handed Burley.
    The problems I see for Burley in fighting Robinson is that it ain't easy countering unGodley fast handed fighters. Who sat back and countered Robinson, Ali, and Sugar Ray Leonard ? Maybe Jimmy Young did to an old Ali
    but that's not an easy way of beating those guys, usually swarmers with concrete chins (71 Frazier, 80, Duran, LaMotta) are the toughest match ups for genetic freaks like those three. Usually, if you try and counter those guys you wind up getting hit and wind up swinging at air-because they're gone. And I don't think burley has the big-time KO punch to take the ironned-chin robinson out. If Robinson elects to box him, which is hit and get out, it will make for a boring fight but a difficult fight for Burley to win, because like i said, Robinson's hand and foot speed make it difficult for him to counter. Eventually
    Burley will have to start taking the fight to Robinson, which isn't his style. The other strategy for Robinson is that since Burley is giving you his body, for Robby to take the fight to Burley by going to the body first. that's a better fight to watch, but it is a way more dangerous fight for Robinson and he is making it a winnable fight for Burley (not saying Burley can't win if Robby boxes but...)
    Odds are neither fighter is going to KO the other one, but I'd favor a slick, fast boxer over a counter puncher most of the time, especially one like Robinson, Leonard, or Ali.
    As far as Burley's lean-back style: He's not as far back as the pre-Dempsey-Tunney fighters but still outside of Vitali Klitschko and the old soviet bloc fighters, who fights that way today ? Klitschko was slow
    and 6-7, so that was an effective style for him, Burley was 5-9 with short arms. Chris Byrd at times fights that way, but he's not leaning that far back. Hey, if a lean back stance is such a great stance why was it phased out ? Probably because with all your weight on your back foot you are limited, especially on offense. Boxing is a multi-million dollar sport, if Burley's stance was so advantages, everyone would be fighting that way today.
    It's practically obsolete. Good luck beating Robinson by counter punching, unless of coarse Robby's dumb enough to reach for Burley's head. come to think of it, Burley does remind me a little of Chris Byrd, no wonder his fights were so boring.

  25. #25

    a little knowledge....

    OK. You had some good points before your real agenda crept in. Now you are just being contrary for the sake of it and don't really have the knowledge to back it up.

    You said:

    "Boxing is a multi-million dollar sport, if Burley's stance was so advantages, everyone would be fighting that way today."

    So you are saying that boxers are better or more effective today?

    Because there is so much money at stake the modern fighters are as good and as effective as they can be? Is that what you want me to believe.

    What about what style suits which fighters physical make-up. What about there being a lack of knowledgable trainers around today compared to the earlier part of the 20th century?

    I know, let's have a boxing world populated by SR Robinsons; Leonards or even Ali's. That would be really interesting!

    You also said:

    "Burley does remind me a little of Chris Byrd, no wonder his fights were so boring."

    What was that you said about the number of Burley fights that you (and the rest of us) have seen. If you want to keep judging Burley on that one fight, go ahead - but it's you that's being boring now, because you keep making reference to it.

    Speaking of styles in relation to physical make-up, another point that proves you have no idea what you are talking about:

    "Burley was 5-9 with short arms."

    Well, you got the first part right. And here I was thinking that you knew your stuff. You almost fooled me. Shame on you - you charlaten.

    It's a pity you weren't Robinson's manager. You know exactly how he could have beaten Burley - with his "ungodly speed and iron chin" - maybe he would have had the balls to take the fight with you in his corner.

    Robinson avoided Burley for a number of reasons. Most of which have already been discussed. Bottom line is, why take a fight for little money and little exposure unless you are sure you can win?

    Now, who knows more about Robinson's ability in relation to whom he feels he can beat - you or him?

  26. #26
    The shoemaker

    Re: a little knowledge....

    Geeze, after re-reading your earlier posts, I see where you were the author on the book on Burley, and you talk about me having an agenda. although mine is this supposidly this secrete one to prove that the fighters of today were better than the fighters of yesteryear (no, boxing's declined as a participent sport, and is no longer a major spectator sport as well). That being said, Burley's lean-back style was being phased during the 30's and few fighters fought that way by the 40's. in fact it probabley helped Burley in that respect, since he is useing an early 30's style in the mid forties (not as used to seeing it). That being said, if someone doesn't want to lead against him, odds are you are going to have a boring fight. I mean I can point to the 1943 contest against Holeman Williams (who didn't like to lead niether) when the ref tossed both of them for inactivity. As far as it being an obsolete style today, you said something to the effect that modern trainers don't know what they are doing (I guess that includes Roach, Atlas, McGirt, ect). Well then neither did Soliman, Dundee (both of them), Reddish, Clancy, Futch, Blackmon, and George Benton, since they didn't teach that obsolete style. I also didn't think it is any discrace to be compared to Chris Byrd, Byrd is a hell of a tactical fighter, who gets the most out of his ability. Like Burley, he usually gives away size and weight, and like Burley, he uses his brain
    to win (leaning back, countering the head hunters) but if you can force him to lead... As far as Robinson-burley in "46", I don't know who would win. I mean you are comparing a Middleweight to a welterweight (although Burley's probably in the high 150's by then). i mearly pointed out that Burley lost to Holeman Williams in 45 (Williams lost to LaMotta and Cerdan
    the next year), he also lost to Lytell in "47". but i am sure you have excuses for those losses as well. My point was that it would be difficult to beat someone with Robinson's speed by counter punching them, especially if he forces Burley to lead. Odds are Robinson's either going to win a boring fight or he's going to lose, either way he loses. especially since his reputation and mystique is based on his gawdy record, and losing to Burley might jeopardize his title shot, which he got at the end of 46. But instead of answering my question about beating freaks like Robinson, Leonard, and ali, by countering them, you went into this tirade about me being a charleton and not knowing what i was talking about. No, i doubt if I know as much about Burley as you do, I would hope not, since you wrote a book about him. as far as name-calling, i could have called you a liar for saying that charles had a 10+ weight advantage, which you had to know wasn't the case. But I let it go, ( he did have a 9 llb advantage, in the second fight, but like i said, he weighed 160). as far as Burley's arm length, it's been a few months since I saw the Smith fight, I can't say I remember Burley's reach standing out (the only thing that stood out was that burley was way too fast for Smith and that he fought in a 1920's-early 30's style) . Now, without name calling, answer these: Wouldn't you agree that style-wise a swarmer has a better chance of beating Robinson than a counter puncher ? 2) Who wins between a prime Ezzard Charles at Middleweight (Circa 1940-mid 42) or a prime Charley Burley and #3 Wouldn't you agree that there are problems with Burley's record, such as losing to Jimmy Bivins (in Bivin's 15th fight), losing twice to a 20 year old Charles, losing two out of his last three to Holeman Williams (a boxer), and losing to Bert Lytell in "47" by scores of 7-2-1,
    7-3, and 6-2-2- according to box rec. None of these losses are discraces and Burley fought a ton of fights, but it wasn't as though he dominated his era. Of coarse if you have no respect for me or my opinions, then don't answer it-no problem

  27. #27


    I really don't know where to start in responding to your last post. I have no problem with the points you are making or even your point of view or opinion. What is annoying - and frustrating - is that you seem to be bringing up the same points without acknowledging any of my previous posts or the information contained in them.

    For example:

    "I mean I can point to the 1943 contest against Holeman Williams (who didn't like to lead niether) when the ref tossed both of them for inactivity."

    My previous post explained that there was some concerns over the betting for this fight and that the referee may have had an agenda (possible that the fighters could have also). While it was a tactical battle and both fighters knew each other pretty well I suppose it may be boring to some. Still, it was questionable to stop it. But I already wrote that.

    Pointing to Burley losing 3 of 7 to a guy like Williams doesn't really prove any of your points re Robinson. Williams lost to Cocoa Kid countless times (I think 9 of 12, I'd have to check), yet Burley beat Cocoa Kid after 20 bouts (the Kid had 100 bouts more at the time). According to newspaper reports Burley won the second match, but it was declared a draw. (And it's Holman not Holeman).

    "you said something to the effect that modern trainers don't know what they are doing "

    Again, you should pay attention to what I wrote. Which was:

    "What about there being a lack of knowledgable trainers around today compared to the earlier part of the 20th century?"

    There is no doubt that boxing has changed as a spectator sport (blame TV or whatever), but it has also changed with regard to the quality of top fighters around. Not just the actual numbers, but the real standouts skill-wise. Is this the fault of the fighters or the people that coach them? My point was - and is - that there are less quality fighters and trainers around today. You named some outstanding coaches/trainers, but the numbers are less. The other guys you mentioned where great also (Futch etc.), but they learned their craft many, many years ago from guys who would cringe if they saw what passes for 'skillful' boxing today.

    Seeing as your mentioning Futch, why don't you think about his comments on Williams and Burley. He called Burley greatest fighter he ever saw and also said he would rather watch Holman Williams shadow box than watch most other fighters in the ring. He also said that Williams had the skills and finesse of a Ray Robinson, but no punch (Williams had badly broken hands from early in his career).

    "you went into this tirade about me being a charleton and not knowing what i was talking about."

    It was not a tirade. The term Charlaten can mean a number of things. Here you are, a (seemingly) new poster, who - on the day he joins the board - decides to pick on my post about a fantasy fight by attacking that post and picking it apart. I think if you read all the posts on this thread from the start, you will see that yours is the first one that sounds like an attack and not a dicussion.

    I have been defending my original position from the start and I have used what I feel are reasonable arguements, but, as I have already mentioned, you seem to ignore information that I include in my posts. I have mentioned other Burley fights (particularly the losses to the naturally bigger men), his style with regard to his physical make-up (i.e. his reach), etc., but reading your responses it is almost like you don't see what I have written. Most frustrating (and annoying) to be going over the same ground.

    Yes, you could have called me a liar for stating that Charles had 10+ on Burley, when in reality it was 9. I could have done the same with regard to your comment about Burley outweighing Marshall or the fact that Charles was technically a LHW for the first fight but, as you've admitted yourself, that would be nitpicking.

    As far as your questions go:

    "Wouldn't you agree that style-wise a swarmer has a better chance of beating Robinson than a counter puncher."

    As a general answer I would have to say yes.

    "Who wins between a prime Ezzard Charles at Middleweight (Circa 1940-mid 42) or a prime Charley Burley"?

    As I stated before, Charles appeared to have Burley's number, but what you are talking about is also fantasy. Charles was not dominant at MW and Burley was in that division because there was no LMW in his day. Charles and Burley met when Charles was passing through the division and he won both times. Based on what actually happened I would have to go with Charles. But if Charles had been around longer at the weight (a-la Williams or Cocoa Kid - examples of boxers, similar to Charles), I would expect that Burley would likely win some - lose some.

    "Wouldn't you agree that there are problems with Burley's record, such as losing to Jimmy Bivins (in Bivin's 15th fight), losing twice to a 20 year old Charles, losing two out of his last three to Holeman Williams (a boxer), and losing to Bert Lytell in "47" by scores of 7-2-1,
    7-3, and 6-2-2- according to box rec."

    This is were part of my problem lies with regard to what I write and what you read and take in as I have posted on the bulk of this already. Bottom line is, I don't think that there is a problem with Burley's record. Not against these guys. Charles was a last minute replacement and Burley had a bout with Williams in beteween. Still, Charles was class.No arguement.

    Burley also won two of his first three against Williams! History has told us how good these guys were (especially the two that were part of your original arguement i.e. Bivins and Charles).

    Both ended up as HWs for goodness sake and very good ones at that. Quick! Name another LMW that fought guys (and was far from disgraced), that would go on to be champions in the heavyweight division. You will have to do some searching.

    As I have mentioned before, looking at the records and comparing who beat who etc., you only get part of the story. There is an intersting (funny really) thread runing elswhere called 'six degrees of Mickey Roarke' (on the non-boxing discussion). Look at that for the entertainment value and the problems with comparing X beat Y scenarios.

    Burley lost to guys that maybe (on the consensus of the day), he should have beat. As it turned out they were all pretty good. Robinson lost his middleweight title to Turpin, Basilio and Fulmer. Losses to good fighters are not bad and sometimes there are extenuating circumstances or intangibles that most people don't consider because all they see is the W or the L on the record.

    Burley was working on the garbage trucks and was a part-time fighter when he lost to Lytell (he was also in relapse from a bout of pleurisy), practically homeless with family problems when he lost the last fight to Williams (made worse by the fact that the bout was cancelled for a day and Burley was stuck in Buffalo longer than he needed to be under such circumstances).

    You don't see these things on BoxRec or in record books.

    "None of these losses are discraces and Burley fought a ton of fights, but it wasn't as though he dominated his era."

    Your right. None were a disgrace, for a number of reasons, but Burley was ranked in the top 5 at middleweight for several years and never got a chance to dominate. He took the fights he was offered and if he had got the fights that Robinson, Zale, Cerdan, LaMotta, Graziano things may have been different. As we know he was not alone in this predicament as plenty of good quality fighters appeared to just 'tread water' during those years.

    "Of coarse if you have no respect for me or my opinions, then don't answer it-no problem"

    I have respect for your arguement and your opinions and don't know you enough to respect or direspect you. My personal opinion is that it may be more helpful for the purpose of a productive discussion to refrain from using the same points of arguement when they have already been used and/or countered.

    I have an agenda in that I am defending my original position. That is all. I am frustrated that my original counters to your arguement are ignored and that makes me feel that you have an agenda of your own.

    Yes, I did write a book on Burley (with sections on Booker, Chase, Moore, Williams, Marshall etc). As a result I have more respect for most of the fighters of that era than I did before (not that I had no respect for them) and a little less for some others. I also have a ton more for Burley as a man and as a fighter. Understandable then if I get ticked off by people who read BoxRec and Ring magazine and watch some tapes and think they know it all. And before you start - that was not all directed at you.

    I was lucky enough to correspond with Charley for a couple of years and to meet him at his home. I have spoke to his family, his friends, fellow boxers and work-mates and consider many of them to be my friends also (I always stay with the Burley's when visiting). I have been given insights into Burley's style and training by his protege in Pittsburgh - including some scary demonstrations with me on the opposite end - and as a result probably respect and understand it a little more than others.

    (I have also spoken and corresponded with several members of Eddie Bookers family and have copies of Burley's and Booker's scrapbooks).

    Now, time for my questions (the ones you have failed to comment on):

    1/ Do you agree that Robinson had the opportunity to fight Burley and didn't?

    2/ Does that not say more about Robinson than Burley?

    3/ Why are you so convinced that Ray would beat Burley when Ray himself wasn't?

    4/ Are these really you first posts on this board?

  28. #28
    The shoemaker


    First off-as far as Futch calling Burley the greatest fighter he had ever seen. yes, that does carry some weight, but I could counter by saying that futch also thought Ken Norton was going to beat George Foreman; so his fighter evaluation was a little off. I have no doubt if you polled the trainers of Futch's era, who saw Ray Robinson in his prime, the vast majority of them would have Robinson at the top of that list, or very close to the top, far higher than Burley or practically any other fighter (I am sure Louis would get some votes too, but they are usually prejudice against heavies in p4p ratings) Plus, it's human nature to be biased towards your own or before your own era, look at Fleischer's ratings; practically everyone before WWI, no Burley, no Charles or Moore at LH, no Ali at heavy (and 175 llb Jim Corbet is #5 ahead of Louis), no Robinson at welterweight (he does rank Robby 5th at MW). most people are prejudicial to whatever modern era they are in
    Gene Tunney said that Dempsey would KO Louis in one round and during the 1950's stated that Dempsey would have beaten Marciano, Walcott, and Charles on the same night. My problem with Burley being an all time great is that all time greats usually dominate their eras. i mean Grebb, dominated the middleweights, beating Mickey Walker; Benny Leonard dominated his comp. Joe Louis dominated his era, Ezzard Charles dominated LH's, Robinson dominated Welterweights (and beat a great fighter in Gavalin), and on and on. Now obviously, there are a lot of mitagating factors with Burley, mainly he's black, he's good, and he's not exciting to watch. So obviously he is going to get ducked. But I'll agree that he does face brutal competition, so his spotty record against elite fighters shouldn't be held against him for arguments on whether he was a great fighter or not, but as far as elite, all time great arguements, i think he has some blemishes.
    You have to admit that there is more interest in Burley today, because HE NEVER GOT A TITLE SHOT than there would be had he won a title. There is a mystery to him. Latley, Marcel Cerdan seems to be the new "flaver of the month" that everyone's arguing about. He has this gawdy record against Euro's, so people argue about that, they argue about whether he'd have beaten LaMotta had he not injured his shoulder, whether his win over Williams legitimizes him as an all time great. hey, I am glad you wrote the book, especially since many of your primary sources were still around. Now that you mentioned that Williams, Booker and other middleweights are in it, I'll have to buy it. Back to the arguement: Your Questions:
    1)Robinson had the opportunaty to fight Burley: Yes, but remember he is a welterweight in 46, so I can't hold it against him for not fighting a middleweight. He'll fight LaMotta, but he gets big bucks for taking that risk (LaMotta has a following, plus LaMotta's viewed by most of the public as the real champ during the war-they don't notice or don't want to notice Burley, Charles, Booker, Marshall,ect)
    2) Say more about Robinson than Burley: Yes, but burley and the other black middleweights would have fought Joe Louis for thirty grand. They are getting 5 grand or less a fight, beating each other's brains out and most of them are going no-where in regards to getting a title shot and making big money (plus the titles are frozen in WWII, so everyone is stagnent). Put them in Robinson's shoes, him and Louis are the only blacks making any money, and they have to keep winning in order to continue to make more money. Like I said, Robinson's a welterweight, who is closing in on a title shot (Cochrane's first defense of his title after WWII, wasn't against Robinson, who was like what 100-1-2- I am guessing, what does that tell you). I can see him risking a loss against LaMotta for 50 grand, but against Burley for 25 G's (or whatever was offered) Burley's a no-win fight, while LaMotta's a no-lose fight. Like i said reverse the roles.
    Ques #3 Why am I convinced: You said it, i am not the one in the ring against Burley, and I am not the one taking the financial risk that Robinson would be taking. i never said it would be an easy Robinson win, like i said burley by 46 was a true middleweight, Robby is still a welterweight. I base my arguement on this: Both can take a punch, Robinson was never KO'ed or stopped (except for heat exaustion) after fighting for 25 years and 200+ fights. Burley was never stopped in 70+ fights and fought 20 rounds with Billy Smith a big hitting Light Heavy. Robinson has power at welterweight, but I doubt it would dent Burley's chin, so the fight is most likely going to go the distance. From what I've seen and read on Burley, he was primarly a counter puncher (I am not labling him or saying that's all he can do but that's his prefered method). although I may be wrong, I think the reason that Williams and burley were DQ'ed was because some times when you match a counter puncher with a boxer, you get dull, boring fights. especially considering that they had fought each other and lost to each other before. i think neither wanted to lead, because they knew the one who lead was most likely to lose. i can't prove it, it seems likely to me. i can't believe that the ref
    fixed it, because it was a No Contest, so there was no winner, which meant no better's got paid. You may have more info on it, but that's my hunch. Robinson can box, although he will lead, and take chances against most fighters. Will he do it against Burley ? That's the question. I think he'd do more boxing, because obviously, he knows how good Burley is, and how difficult he is to fight. I think he hits and gets out, winning some rounds on being flashy, looking like he's doing more than he actually is (remember, he is the big name in this fight-he's already a legend). Remember against LaMotta, he has to fight because Jake is going to be all over him, plus he has to use a ton of energy to keep that animal (who has about a 16 llb weight advantage ) off him. Against a non-pressure fighter ? Plus I'd argue that in 46 Burley is fading, you yourself, said that against Lytell in 47 he was shot. i am not saying Charley's shot in 46, but I don't think it would be in his prime. of coarse he is going to be fired up for the fight of his life that he's dreamed about (I don't think Charley's going to fight Holmen williams 9 days before Robinson). My pick is Robinson in a dull fight. He's cautious against Burley. Now maybe i am full of it (wouldn't be the first time) Maybe Robinson would attack, or maybe I've mislabled Burley as a counter puncher based on the Smith fight (I am not saying he can't lead or put pressure, but I don't think that's his prefered style). Plus, Burley is the natural middleweight and Robinson doesn't become one until 1950-51. Just remember, robinson still has twenty more years of fighting in him, while Burley is fading.

    Question #4 First time on the site: Yes, a buddy of mine (an ex-pro, who by the way, also took Robinson over Burley) told me about it. i got sick of argueing with Mike Tyson and Roy Jones fan's on the other sites, which usually resorted to name-calling. Trust me, if a Robinson-Burley arguement started, it would somehow evolve into a Tyson or Roy Jones arguement.
    Sorry for the rambling. since i started this arguemnt with you, the least i can do is let you finish it.

  29. #29


    Again, I have to agree with the majority of your points. As for Tunney's personal opinions, they all make Tunney look good as he beat Dempsey and Dempsey - in Tunney's mind - would murder every other heavyweight who dominated his era.

    As for Futch, maybe his opinion was out on fighters he had some connection with, but Burley was only connected via Holman Williams (who helped out at the Brewster Centre with Louis and other young fighters).

    Of course, Futch's reputation or standing doesn't make him infallable, but Ray Arcel had a high opinion of Burley also. A guy I interviewd several times worked with Burley, Booker and Lloyd Marshall. He sparred with Robinson when he was preparing for a bout with Earl Turner on the West Coast and had nothing but praise for Robinson, who apparently went out of his way for fans etc., but he still thinks that Burley was the best fighter he ever saw.

    Archie Moore was of the same opinion of course, saying that "Burley gave him a boxing lesson." (Archie was also a huge fan of Eddie Booker).

    Your answers to my questions support my original arguement in that Robinson thought that Burley probably/possibly could beat him at that time. Weight difference aside (remember Burley was trained down to 154 before the second Smith fight and Burley himself thought he could make the weight for Robinson), Robinson signed for the fight and then had a change of heart (should have been May 10th, 1946 in P'burgh).

    The risk V reward assessment may have meant that, to Robinson, it wasn't worth it. Fair enough - who would. He'll fight LaMotta for reasonable money, but not Burley. Less risk against LaMotta (who gets more respect today for his undoubted ability than he did in the day), against more risk (of losing) against Burley. Robinson was a business man, but I'm sure he was as proud and protective as hell about his record.

    Burley himself (years later), felt that there was little point in them fighting each other as they would have just "knocked each other off" And, far from being a boastfull person, he was absolutely convinced that he would have beaten Robinson. If Robinson felt the same would he have not taken the money and the win - as he did against LaMotta.

    I also don't feel that Burley was on the slide in 1946 or 1947. His appetite for the game was not great by then, mostly due to lack of progress. He had serious hand problems for most of his career, Robinson pulled out of the fight in '46, by the end of that year he had a full-time job (and the regular wage that went with it). For most of Burley's career it had been a case of 'who needs him?'. By that point in his life and career, for Burley at least, it was a case of 'who needs boxing.'

    He did struggle on a while longer as the NBA still had him rated and proposed a mini-tournement to select a challenger to the winner of Zale-Graziano. Cerdan, Abrams and LaMotta with the other fighters elected. No interest form Cerdan or LaMotta. Possibly the final straw?

    I know what you mean about other boards and other posters on those boards. IMO this is the only board around. I post on BoxRec occasionally (and am an editor there), but this is the place I spend most of my time - mostly reading as it is an education.

    Cerdan was popular on BoxRec quite recently. Burley too has had his moments there. I must say though that I don't think Burley is overrated today. There is, as you point out, a mystique about him - probably because he never got the title shot - and maybe if he did get the opportunities he would have dominated to the extent that Robinson did, maybe not. We will never know. I don't think he had the personality for life in the spotlight - that was definately Robinson's domain.

    I think Burley is more known today because of the internet. I would like to think that I had a little to do with that as I wrote a substantial piece on him for this site almost ten years ago (needs some updating though). Flavour of the month for some maybe - but not me. I have also done pieces on Booker, Chase, Williams and Marshall (in the 'Black Dynamite' section of the encyclopedia). Hopefull a piece I did on Holman Williams (and why he should be in the HOF), will be in the next edition of WAIL.

    I hope you continue to get involved in the other discussions on this board - and thank you for the opportunity to finish this one off.

    Burley by a close (split?) decision

    Some links:





  30. #30

    Re: opinions

    shoe and scribe,

    that was one hell of a debate. lot of passion lot of knowledge. scribe is a stalwart here.....shoe...i hope you stick around too.

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