Category Archives: Prize Fighters Rocky Marciano

Slow by modern heavyweight standards, and undersized, Rocky Marciano would become the only undefeated heavyweight champion in History and one of the most devastating punchers of the ring.

Rocky Marciano undefeated knockout king

With 49 wins, 43 of them by knockout and zero losses, a book might be titled Rocky Marciano  undefeated knockout king of heavyweight boxers.

Rocky Marciano undefeated and Ezzard Charles
A bruised and battered Rocky Marciano knocking out Ezzard Charles

Rocky Marciano alone out of all the heavyweight champions retired undefeated with a perfect record.  He knocked 87.5 percent of his opponents out, eleven of them in the first round.   An excellent athlete, Marciano strongly considered becoming a professional baseball player.   Yet Marciano seemed to lack the physical attributes of the best heavyweights.  At five foot ten, he was too short for a division that’s usually dominated by six foot two and even taller men.  He was too light at 185 pounds.  His arms were way too short.   Most of the men he fought had such a reach advantage that they could  stand out of range while jabbing his face to pieces.  But Rocky could be likened to “the Terminator”.  He always fought in superb physical condition.  He was relentless.   Constantly moving in he’d never give his opponents a moment’s rest.  And he was almost impossible to stop, having been knocked down only twice in his career.  He fought with a crab like style, hunching down low as he stalked his opponents.  This made him a smaller target while making his chin harder to hit.  In my opinion this crab like style did not make Marciano appear like a champion.  He was boring to watch, and he absorbed a lot of punches.  Obviously it was very effective though.  Although Marciano threw more punches than practically everyone else, his connection rate was abysmally low.  He was the opposite of Joe Louis, whose style was one of economy and grace.

One of the reasons Marciano missed so often is he had a habit of putting his entire body behind his punches.  In December 1963  “Boxing Illustrated”  measured Marciano’s punch and found it to have 1000 foot pounds of energy, which is enough force to lift 1000 pounds one foot off the ground.  Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano are oftentimes compared against each other.  Both men were highly regarded as knockout artists.  But whereas Jack Dempsey is usually rated as the more formidable of the two, Jack Dempsey had this to say about Rocky Marciano.

“What everyone forgets is that Marciano can punch harder with a right hand than any modern day heavyweight.  In his first fight with Walcott, Rocky needed only one blow to win the title.  The power in his right scrambled Jersey Joe’s brains at Chicago.  I’ve scored my share of knockouts along the way, but more often than not my opponents got up after being knocked down and had to be knocked down repeatedly.  The same is true of Joe Louis.  But Marciano needs only one solid smash and it’s all over.  That’s why Rocky Marciano is the hardest hitting heavyweight champion I have seen.”

So who really was the greatest heavyweight champion of them all?  Was it Joe Louis?  Jack Dempsey?  Muhammad Ali? Or Rocky Marciano undefeated out of all of these great heavyweight champions.  We will never know.  I have listed a number of you tube videos below.  The last one is an extended computer simulation that pitted an in their prime boxing years Muhammad Ali  against Rocky Marciano.  As he’s losing in points towards the end of the simulation, Rocky knocks out Muhammad Ali in one version of the simulation.  In another, the one that the Europeans got, Ali emerges as the victor.  But computers cannot measure what’s really lurking down deep in a man’s mind or heart.   The simulation was done in 1969.  This was done while Muhammad Ali was being suspended from the ring, before his comeback, and before he proved in his later fights many strengths that he had never shown before.

Joe Louis Fight 10-26-1951  In his quest of proving worthy of fighting the reigning heavyweight champion,  Rocky Marciano knocks out a still dangerous but aging Joe Louis.

Marciano defeats Jersey Joe Walcott to win the heavyweight title Sept 23. 1952.  This is a very interesting fight because it exemplifies how a seemingly outclassed Rocky Marciano shows off how his superior physical stamina and conditioning enables him to physically wear down his opponents.   The end comes in the 13th round.  It comes as a bolt of lightening.  The fight, particularly the end, shows off a very important Marciano attribute that allows him to triumph over all his opponents and that is one of supreme confidence.  Although throughout most of the fight Marciano appears to be losing, he never always seems confident of its eventual outcome.  Such confidence is very evident moments after he knocks Joe Walcott out.    Marciano knows there’s no getting up from the two blows he’s just delivered.  The right hand’s probably enough, but just to make sure a split second later Marciano delivers the Coup de Grace with his left.  He casually turns away from this fallen opponent without so much as a single  glance to see whether or not he’s terminated the affair.

Rocky Marciano vs Jersey Joe Walcott 2  5/15/1953  This one’s no contest as in this rematch, Marciano knocks Jersey Joe out in the first round.

Rocky Marciano vs Roland La Starza 9-24-1953  Often called Marciano’s toughest title defense.

Rocky Marciano vs Ezzard Charles II  9-17-1954  Ezzard Charles who had formerly held the heavyweight title is a faster and much more clever fighter than Marciano, but being fast and clever is not enough.

Rocky Marciano vs Archie Moore 9-21-1955  Archie Moore’s in his element as a Light Heavyweight.  But he’s also one of the all time greatest punchers in the ring with a never equaled ring record of 131 knockouts.  He goes on record for holding the light heavyweight title longer than anyone else.   In this fight Moore will drop Marciano down in the 2nd round, which is the 2nd and last time Marciano’s ever been knocked down.  But in the end Marciano simply has too much firepower for the old Mongoose.

Rocky Marciano vs Muhammad Ali (computer simulation) July 1969

Muhammad Ali sizes up Rocky Marciano and rates his chances against Rocky in their prime years  “he hits so hard”.  (Ali)

But here’s the other version of the Computer simulation of Ali vs Rocky Marciano and in this version Ali wins.

in the first version, Marciano is “The Terminator” because no matter how many punches he throws Ali simply cannot put Marciano down.  Marciano is in superb physical condition.  As was true in nearly all his fights he’s untiring.  His punching power is horrific but Ali due to his speed and tremendous boxing ability is able to escape Marciano’s onslaught until the very end.  We must keep in mind, however, that whatever data was fed into the computers is based on what was known about Ali before he was stripped of his title.  It was only after he made his comeback and started fighting in his post prime years that other huge strengths of Ali’s became known.  First, in his fight against Ken Norton when he fought with a broken jaw, Ali’s courage was obviously just as great as Marciano’s.  Later in his three fights against Joe Frazier, there could no longer be any doubt as to both his courage and his durability.  Before 1969 when the “super fight” was stimulated by computers Muhammad’s ability to take a punch was in question.  But after he knocked out George Foreman when he reclaimed the heavyweight title, the question of whether or not Ali had a glass jaw or not was answered forever.   I don’t think there’s ever been a heavyweight champion who was as durable as Ali and this includes Rocky Marciano.  The Super fight video in which Marciano knocks Ali also shows Ali as being deficient in the punching power department.  In 1969 Ali was not highly regarded for his punching power being credited as being able to stop his opponents with a flurry of punches instead of one or two single blows.

Unquestionably George Foreman was a very durable strong heavyweight, but when it came time to put him away, Ali put Foreman down with the greatest of ease.  There’s also the controversy over the infamous phantom punch where Ali knocks out Sonny Liston in the 1st round.  Opinion as to the authenticity of the phantom punch is very divided.  In one camp, Ali and Liston’s detractors contend that Liston intentionally threw the fight and that there’s virtually no evidence that shows Ali punching hard enough to put Liston down.  However, when you go to You tube and study the Foreman Ali fight, seconds after Ali puts Foreman down the announcer is yelling, “This is no phantom punch.  This is no phantom punch.”  There’s no doubt in the announcer’s mind that Ali has convincingly and quite easily stopped Foreman.  But I think there’s a little more to it than that.   The announcer is very excited when he screams into his microphone, “This is no phantom punch.  This is no phantom punch.”  At this very moment in time I believe the announcer believes that there never was a phantom punch in the first place.  The announcer is saying in effect that Ali’s ability as a fighter is simply off the charts and that Ali did in fact knock Liston out with a single blow.

Then again, all of this is only my own opinion.  But I will say this.  When you are actually observing a fight instead of watching it on television you see a lot of things that are never picked up on television.  The action is much faster than it appears to be on television for one thing.  Also…the intensity of the blows actually landing is of much greater force than what they appear to be when televised.

Rocky Marciano might not have been the undisputed King of the heavyweights.  Certainly both Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey are equally deserving of such distinction.  It’s likely that George Foreman could hit even harder than Marciano.  Or Sonny Liston, who just might have been credited a better champion than he was fated to become thanks to the mysterious Phantom Punch.   Or that Liston had the bad luck to be pitted against a Muhammad Ali, who had in equal measure the same virtues of stamina, heart, an iron jaw, and the relentless drive to win as Rocky in addition to the fastest hands the heavyweight division ever saw.   But Rocky Marciano had one claim no other heavyweight could make which could have been put in his epitaph as  Rocky Marciano undefeated knockout king