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

His record of 49 wins, 43 of them by knockout and zero losses,   made Rocky  Rocky Marciano undefeated knockout king of Heavyweights

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

Rocky Marciano was the only heavyweight champions who 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 in school, Marciano strongly considered becoming a professional baseball player.   He turned to boxing instead.

Marciano lacked the physical attributes of the best heavyweights. At five foot ten and 185 pounds, he was too small for a division that’s usually dominated by six foot two and even taller men.    His arms were too short.   Most of the men Marciano fought had such a reach advantage that they could  stand out of range as they jabbed his face to ribbons.

But Rocky could be likened to “the Terminator”

But Rocky Marciano always fought in superb physical condition.  And he was relentless.   Constantly moving in, he’d never give his opponents a moment’s rest.  Marciano was nearly unstoppable.  He was knocked down only twice In his entire career.

Marciano developed his own unique crab style of fighting to make up for his physical deficiencies.  Marciano would hunch down low as he stalked his opponents.  This style presented a smaller target while making his chin harder to hit.  In my opinion this unorthodox style made Marciano  look unskillful .  He was boring to watch.  And he absorbed a lot of punches.  However, it was very effective.

Although Marciano threw more punches than practically everyone else, his connection rate was abysmally low.  He was the antithesis 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.

Boxing experts oftentimes compare Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano to each other.  Sportswriters regarded both men highly  as knockout artists.  But if they rated Jack Dempsey  as the more formidable of the two,  Dempsey rated Rocky Marciano as the far more devastating puncher.

“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, who never faced defeat?  Who was smart enough  to retire as the undefeated champion of the world.     We will never know.

I have listed a number of you tube videos below.  The last one is a computer simulation that pitted Muhammad Ali  against Rocky Marciano.  As he’s losing in points towards the end of this simulation, Rocky knocks out Muhammad Ali.  But there was another “what if” computerized version of Rocky vs Ali.  This was broadcast all over Europe.  Most Americans never saw it.   In the European simulation Ali beats Marciano on points.

But computers cannot measure what’s lurking down deep in a boxer’s mind and heart.   These simulations were televised in 1969.  In 1969  the American boxing Association had suspended Muhammad Ali  from the ring, before Ali made his comeback.  In his prime,   Ali  was so fast and so gifted that he could dominate any opponent who faced him.  But years of inactivity from the ring took its toll.  The blinding speed was no longer what it was.

Lesser men would have caved in to the onslaught of creeping old age and ring rust.  This is when Ali proved himself to be the greatest champion of them all.   It was only after Ali had already lost everything that he had to rely on tremendous strengths that he had never shown before.  Such as an iron jaw and  an unsurpassed will to win.

The best You Tube Videos of Rocky Marciano

Joe Louis Fight 10-26-1951   Rocky Marciano knocks out a still dangerous but aging Joe Louis.  This sets Rocky up for fighting Joe Walcott for the world championship.

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 is able to maximize his superior physical stamina and conditioning  to physically wear down his opponents.   The end comes in the 13th round.  It comes as a bolt of lightening.  The fight demonstrates a very important Marciano attribute that allows him to triumph over all his opponents.   The attribute is Marciano’s  supreme confidence that it is only a matter of time before he will knock out his opponent.

Although throughout most of the fight Marciano appears to be losing, he always remains supremely confident of its eventual outcome.  This total self  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 Rocky wants to be sure.  A split second later,  Marciano delivers the Coup de Grace with his left. Then he casually turns away from this fallen opponent without so much as a single  glance to see whether or Walcott’s getting up.

Marciano might have been the best finisher the Heavy Weight Division ever saw

With 49 wins, 43 of them by knockout and zero losses,   Rocky Marciano  was the undefeated knockout king of heavyweight boxers.

Classic Rocky Marciano Championship fights

Rocky Marciano vs Jersey Joe Walcott 2  5/15/1953  This rematch is no contest.  Marciano knocks Jersey Joe out in the first round.

 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.

Marciano vs Archie Moore 9-21-1955  Archie Moore’s king of the light heavyweights.   He’s also one of the all time greatest punchers of the ring with a never equaled ring record of 131 knockouts.  He’s  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  has too much firepower for the old Mongoose.

Rocky Marciano versus Muhammad Ali

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.  In this made for Europe 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 is able to escape Marciano’s onslaught until the very end due to his speed and tremendous boxing ability  However, we must keep in mind, that whatever data was fed into the computers is based on what was known about Ali before the powers that be robbed him of his title.

And that’s when Ali became the greatest boxing champion of all time

In his first fight against Ken Norton when he fought with a broken jaw, Ali proved that his  courage was  just as great as Marciano’s.

Later in his three fights against Joe Frazier, there could no longer be any doubt as to both Ali’s courage and durability.

Before 1969 when computers simulated the “super fight” Muhammad’s ability to take a punch was suspect.  But after Ali knocked out George Foreman and reclaimed the heavyweight title,  Ali’s ability to take a punch  was answered forever.

Rocky Marciano never had to face the same quality of opponents Ali had to face.

Perhaps never before in the History of the ring has the heavyweight division had so many exceptional fighters.  Ali beat them all.  Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, George Foreman.

But it must not be forgotten that his time at the top left Rocky Marciano undefeated,

I don’t think there’s ever been a heavyweight champion who was as durable as Ali and this includes Rocky Marciano undefeated

The Super fight video in which Marciano knocks Ali out also depicts Ali as a light hitting heavyweight.  In 1969 Ali was not highly regarded for his punching power.   He knocked a lot of guys out.  But he did it through a flurry of punches instead of a single blow.

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 when Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in the 1st round.  Opinion on the authenticity of the phantom punch is still divided.  In one camp, Ali and Liston’s detractors contend that Liston intentionally threw the fight.  Such detractors contend 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.”

Here’s what I think.  At this very moment  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 observe 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.  Also…the intensity of the blows actually landing is much greater than what the television shows.

Rocky Marciano might not have been the undisputed King of the heavyweight big punchers.  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 gone down as a far better champion than he was had it not been for the mysterious Phantom Punch.

Or that Liston had the bad luck to be pitted against a Muhammad Ali, who had the same virtues of stamina, heart, an iron jaw, and the relentless drive to win as Rocky.  Not to mention the fastest hands the heavyweight division ever saw.  Nevertheless, his perfect record made Rocky Marciano undefeated king of the ring.

But Rocky Marciano could make  one claim no other heavyweight could make.    If he were not so modest,  he could boast,  “I am Rocky Marciano undefeated knockout king”.

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I actually met the big mean ugly bear.   I hated him.  But now I’ve totally revised my opinion of the man.   Jack Corbett