On a Wednesday night in front of 9, 023 people at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, arguably the greatest boxer to have ever lived fought his final fight.
At the age of 45, Sugar Ray Robinson was attempting to fight his way to what would have been his 16th middleweight title contest, to try and win the belt for a sixth time. On November 10 1965 he fought No 1 contender (in most ratings) Joey Archer, with a win assuring him of a chance at the world crown held by Dick Tiger.
Archer had only lost once in 48 bouts prior to the fight, to Jose Gonzalez in 1962, a reverse he quickly avenged. He also held wins over Tiger and Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and had only been down once in his career, very briefly in an early fight he went on to win.
A slick boxer with an effective jab, Archer was also 18 years younger than Robinson and expected to beat the ring legend.
He did so, but a valiant Robinson made the fight exciting for the 10 rounds it lasted, resorting to torrid infighting when his legs could not keep up their past movement. Archer won on all three cards to scores of 50-39, 49-40 and 48-41.
Robinson announced his retirement shortly after the fight and the next day, one of his followers tried to change his mind by telling him they had an offer for a rematch with Archer.
“Aw, what would be the point?” was Robinson’s response.
Unlike Mayweather, whose other moniker is ‘Money’, Robinson was not then fighting predominantly for the paycheque. He had been earning around $1,000 and $2,000 for his fights before Archer and the IRS had recently turned over $344,000 back to him after holding it since 1957. Plus, he had various properties in America and had contracts to make two films in the future. He was not struggling for money at that point.
It appeared Robinson was purely fighting in the pursuit of greatness or, at least, another world title shot.