1. GENE Fullmer entered his fourth encounter with Sugar Ray Robinson in 1961 as an 8/5 favourite. Either man boasted a win over the other, with one draw between them. Their brawls had stretched from New York City on the East coast, through Chicago to California on the West coast, and would be concluded back in-land at the Convention Center in Las Vegas, in front of 7,400 people.
2. DETAILS surrounding the NBA title fight were met with bitter dispute from Sugar Ray, who demanded that the ring size be changed from sixteen foot to eighteen foot, and the gloves be reduced in size from eight ounces to six.
3. THE Harlem man also evoked the prerogative rights of a champion – of which he wasn’t qualified – to wear white shorts, and walk to the ring second. The requests were granted in a bid to assure the bout took place.
4. THE fight was instigated through the behest of the crowd, after neither Fullmer, Robinson or referee Frankie Carter had heard the timekeeper blow his whistle. Robinson started quickly and asserted his dominance by boxing behind a sharp jab, he continually popped left hands to the face of Fullmer, who by the end of the second, had sustained an inflated left eye.
5. MORE action occurred in the following three minutes of the third, than in the rest of the bout combined, as the pair traded blows. Robinson had created an opening in the swelling around Fullmer’s left eye, causing blood to blight his vision, as an unruly left hook landed flush on the Utah-native’s face. Not to be outdone however, Fullmer came back with a thunderous right, sending the challenger into the ropes. Fullmer kept him there for the remainder of the round, as he directed overhand-rights and lefts to the body. Robinson tried to set up attacks of his own, but with his back pressed firmly against the ropes, his only option was to utilise elbows, arms and gloves to fend off the oncoming barrage. Much like the beginning of the first, the fighters did not hear the whistle that ended the third – causing George Gainford, Robinson’s manager, to traverse the ropes and demand Fullmer be disqualified for striking seconds after the conclusion of the round.
6. THE intensity of the third round had sapped Sugar Ray’s energy, and the rounds that followed saw him play second fiddle to the champion.
7. ALTHOUGH clearly fatigued himself, Fullmer continuously instigated proceedings. He walked Robinson down, was the more aggressive and threw the more meaningful punches.
8. CREDIT to the heart and chin of the once unparalleled Sugar Ray Robinson, who despite his opponents best efforts, refused to meet the canvas.
9. AS the fifteenth round concluded and the bout ended, Gene Fullmer’s unanimous win left no doubts in anyone’s mind. He had retained his NBA World middleweight title.
10. FULLMER received $60,000 to Sugar Ray Robinson’s $50,000 purse. And the pair took 40% and 25% of the net gate respectively. After the bout, a triumphant and honest Fullmer admitted: “I’m glad I was fighting this guy when he was over his prime.”