HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPS RARELY GO OUT A WINNER
San Francisco, CA– When I look back at the last fights of some of the great heavyweight champions, they for the most part go out losers. Muhammad Ali, who lost to Larry Holmes in 1980 at 38, was beaten on points by Trevor Berbick on a Jamaican day in 1981, the same day Don King got the snot kicked out of him invading a fight he had nothing to do with. Watching Ali against Holmes, and even though he did better vs. Berbick, both performances made your eyes water.
JOE FRAZIER LAST FOUGHT “JUMBO” CUMMINGS
In late 1981, Joe Frazier, never the same since his initial battle with Ali in 1971, a decade and seven months later, and five years after his second KO loss to George Foreman, took on Floyd “Jumbo” Cummings (15-0) on a Closed Circuit TV card emanating from Chicago. After ten rounds, a swollen, old and busted up Joe Frazier got a gift in a Majority Split Draw. Watching Frazier’s legs fail him so badly is what I remember most.
MAX SCHMELING LIVED 99 YEARS!
After the first round KO loss to Joe Louis in 1938, Max Schmeling fought once in 1939 before he retired and didn’t come back until two years after WW II in 1947, went 3-1 against hobo types before losing his finale to Robert Vogt. On this Halloween (October 31) 1949 night, Max who destroyed Louis in their first encounter in 1936 with a KO 12, didn’t look anything like he did in his prime and lost almost every round over ten.
THE FIRST TWO-TIME CHAMP FLOYD PATTERSON
The first man ever to regain the heavyweight title, Floyd Patterson lost it and regained the crown from Ingemar Johansson. Floyd would drubbed by Sonny Liston twice, thrashed by Ali in 1965, before drawing and then losing to Jerry Quarry before an unsuccessful WBA title bid vs. Jimmy Ellis in 1967. After a good roll of wins and a draw, Floyd was beaten like a drum by Ali in a 1972 NABF title fight losing a TKO 7. So one sided, it was shameful and fitting for a man with the class of Floyd Patterson.
SPEAKIN’ OF SONNY LISTON
Sonny Liston lost early on to Marty Marshall, whom he KO’d one year later in 1955. Besides losing the two fights that the late famed historian Hank Kaplan thought “were fixed” to Ali, Sonny would never lose again until 1969 when Leotis Martin hit him with a “highlight reel” uppercut that felled Sonny like a deer shot by a high powered rifle. He would fight once more and stopped Chuck Wepner, so Sonny was the exception that went out a winner. One of the rumors going about was that the Mob killed Sonny because he wouldn’t throw the fight to Wepner, the man the Rocky Balboa character was based on. Sonny died circa New Years Eve 1970.
TYSON HAD A ROUGH ENDING
Mike Tyson drilled the aforementioned Trevor Berbick in 1986, 19 years later he ended his career with a loss to a hapless lad in Kevin McBride in 2005. One fight prior to that, Tyson had been stopped by Danny Williams, two fights after being stopped by Lennox Lewis in 2002. The man that burst on the scene as a killer went out with a whimper against McBride.
SADDEST RING ENDING IN HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE HISTORY
When Joe Louis retired in March 1949, he was done! The two Jersey Joe Walcott fights were the writing on the wall. But just seven months later, broke ass Joe was back in the ring doing an exhibition (10 rounds) with Johnny Shkor. One year later, champion Ezzard Charles beat Louis in 1950. Louis then went on a “choreagraphed” ride through seven not so glorious opponents before meeting new champ Rocky Marciano in late 1951. Never one “to carry” anybody, Marciano mercilessly beat on Louis for eight rounds before knocking him out of the ring. Of all the heavyweight champs I’ve mentioned here, nobody took as fierce a beating as the one the Rock laid on the 38-year old Joe louis.