1. AS he was growing up, Sugar Ray Robinson, or Walker Smith Jnr as he was then, idolised the swarming savagery of Henry Armstrong. “Homicide Hank” simultaneously held world titles in three weight classes – featherweight, lightweight, welterweight – at a time when there were only eight to aim at. In 1938, Armstrong was second only to heavyweight leader Joe Louis as the biggest star in boxing.
2. BY August 27 1943, Armstrong’s peak had long gone. His claustrophobic, high-tempo style could not go on forever, and when he stepped in the ring with rising star Ray Robinson, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, he was fighting on memory.
3. THOSE memories had accounted for the majority of his comeback opponents since losing a pair of world welterweight title fights to Fritzie Zivic in 1940-41 but his decline was clear. Even so, he was confident he had the beating of the young and slick Ray Robinson, who came into the contest with a 44-1 record.