IT has never actually been established who was the first critic to utter those immortal words “They never come back!” But whoever it was, he certainly knew what he was talking about. The pages of fistic history are full of great names such as Jim Corbett, Jim Jeffries, Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles, all of whom were world’s champions – but none of whom could beat Old Father Time.
Now a new name has been added to the list – Sugar Ray Robinson, former world’s welter and middleweight champ, who gave an inept display before being outpointed by Ralph “Tiger” Jones in front of 7,282 punters at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois on January 19, 1955.
Jones had lost his previous five fights, and no one gave tuppence for his chances against Robinson, who was a 3-1 on favourite.
But this was not the old Sugar Ray. It was fantastic to watch him backing away from his opponent for practically all of the 10 rounds. Jones went to work right from the opening bell and punished Robinson freely, the latter finishing the first round with a bleeding nose.
Although he improved slightly in the following session, Ray was still on the receiving end. Soon he had a gash over the right eyebrow, which gave trouble throughout the bout.
Each round was a pattern of the former, Ray striving to keep out of trouble, and Jones plodding after him relentlessly. The former champ was pitifully slow, and Jones found no difficulty in belabouring him on the ropes with two-handed attacks.
In the last two sessions, when it was obvious that Robinson would have to knock his man out to win, we saw flashes of his old form. But these were all too few, and Jones was in no real trouble.
The “Tiger” was a unanimous winner, and hopes to get some lucrative matches as a result of his victory. He is nearly 27, and has only lost one fight inside the distance during five years as a pro. He has met Kid Gavilan and Joey Bratton, Danny Womber, and Bobby Dykes.
Robinson strongly denied that he now intends to retire. “I never figure to win them all,” he said. “You’ve got to figure you’ll get beat somewhere along the line. I don’t want to quit. This was a test. Like my manager said – just too tough for a second fight on a comeback.
“I knew it wasn’t good, but I thought I’d have some. I don’t know what I’ll do now. But I’m not through. More training and more fights.”
Why bother, Ray? Surely you don’t need the money.
For the record the referee was Frank Sikora who scored it 99-94 in Jones’ favour. Judges Ed Hintz and Howard Walsh had Jones by scores of 100-88 and 98-89 respectively.
The gross gate was $27,419 and the net gate was $22,778.