So often boxing fans and media claim that Robinson was the greatest boxer of all time, but don't often state why. Yet behind all the hype and legend, Robinson's record is full of numerous excellent wins that give substantiality to his 'greatest' claim, along with his outstanding ring performance.
Although most, if not all, boxing fans consider Robinson a career Welterweight or higher, he actually had over 20 wins at 135lbs or lower. His first big win at Lightweight was over Pete Lello, who was one of the best fighters at 135lbs and had unsuccessfully challenged for the Lightweight title the previous year.
The most meaningful of Robinson's wins at 135lbs however was his decision over the frustrating, clever HOF boxer Sammy Angott. Angott was considered the second best Lightweight in the world at the time, but was dropped early and lost a decision to Robinson. Yet only 5 months after losing to Robinson, Angott would win the Lightweight championship with a lopsided win over Lew Jenkins, and even go on to beat the ATG Willie Pep when Pep was 62-0.
Robinson's next big win came over Marty Servo at 140lbs. Servo was 42-0-2, and would become Welterweight champion in 1946 by knocking out Freddie Cochrane.
The win that catapulted Robinson into the top of the Welterweight rankings were his back t back decision wins over the rough and tough HOF brawler Fritzie Zivic. Zivic had just been Welterweight champion the previous year by stopping the ATG Henry Armstrong, but had dropped a close decision to Freddie Cochrane just 3 months before losing to Robinson. Zivic would go the distance in the first fight, but lose by TKO in the 10th in the rematch after being dropped.
Robinson would continue into 1942 with a stoppage win over top ten rated Norman Rubio in the 8th round, as well as decision wins over former opponents Marty Servo and Sammy Angott. After stopping top ten rated Tony Motisi in the first round, Robinson would begin his rivalry over ATG middleweight and future champion Jake LaMotta, winning a ten round decision over LaMotta despite weighing over 12lbs less than LaMotta. Robinson would finish up 1942 with two notable wins over top ten Welterweight Izzy Jannazo.
At the start of 1943 the 40-0 Robinson was handed his first loss in a rematch against LaMotta, where he lost a decision. Yet within 21 days Robinson avenged his loss with a convincing 10 round decision over LaMotta, as well as decisioning top 3 Welterweight Jackie Wilson just 7 days over his win over LaMotta. Robinson closed up 1943 with a decision win over the faded, but still capable and highly rated ATG Henry Armstrong.
Robinson had a slow 1944, where the most notable thing he did was knock out past opponent and still top ten rated Izzy Jannazzu. In 1945 Robinson would fight Jake LaMotta twice more, winning both times by decision, as well as knocking out top 5 rated Jimmy McDaniels in the 2nd round.
In 1946 Robinson finally got a shot for the vacated title against number 1 rated challenger Tommy Bell, and won a 15 round after waiting for 5 years. After winning the title Robinson had a quick victory at Middleweight over top 5 rated Georgie Abrams, while being outweighed by 12lbs. In his first title defense Robinson would knock out top ten rated Jimmy Doyle in the 8th, and followed it up with a mediocre title defense over Chuck Taylor. However, Robinson's next title defense came over Bernard Docusen, who was one of the best 3 Welterweights in the world. Robinson had a rough night, but won a 15 round decision after dropping Docusen in the 9th.
In Robinson's next fight he would face the ATG Welterweight Kid Gavilan in a non-title fight, and won a decision in a close fight. Gavilan would get a rematch in a title shot in 1949, but would again lose by decision after 15 rounds. After his bouts with Gavilan, Robinson would briefly go back up to Middleweight, where he would knock out Steve Belloise, who was considered the 3rd best Middleweight in the world, and decision Robert Villemain, who was considered the 4th best Middleweight in the world.
Robinson would continue to defend his Welterweight title with a win over top ten rated Charley Fusari while still chasing after a middleweight title shot. In 1950 he beat future Middleweight champ and HOF fighter Carl 'Bobo' Olsen by knockout, and again beat top middleweight Villemain.
In 1951 Robinson would get his middleweight title shot against old nemisis Jake LaMotta in their 6th and most brutal final fight, where LaMotta was stopped in the 13th round. LaMotta was the best middleweight in the world after beating Laurent Dauthuille and Tiberio Mitri.
However, Robinson would lose the belt in his first defense against Britain's Randy Turpin. 2 months later, Robinson had regained the title with a nasty 10th round knockout over Turpin. Robinson would defend the middleweight belt twice more, decision Bobo Olson and former faded champ Rocky Graziano before getting a shot against ATG Light Heavyweight Joey Maxim. Robinson was way ahead on the scorecards, but ultimately had to give in to the heat at the end of round 13. The fight was happening in 104 degree, where even the referee collapsed during the fight due to heat exhaustion. Robinson retired after this loss.
3 years later Robinson was back in the ring, and started off 1955 badly with a loss unranked Ralph Jones. Later that year however, Robinson earned himself a title shot in a tough fight the the second best Middleweight in the world Rocky Castellani. Robinson regained the Middleweight title after beating the champion and old foe Bobo Olson with a KO in the 2nd round. Robinson again knocked out Olson in his first title defense, but then lost his title to HOF middleweight Gene Fullmer. Again Robinson regained the title from Fullmer with a dynamite left hook in the 5th round.
Former Welterweight champ Carmen Basilio would then challenge and beat the aging Robinson in 1957s fight of the year, and in another classic Robinson would regain the Middleweight title by decisioning Basilio. However, Robinson would lose the title and finally not regain it against Paul Pender, and then go 0-1-1 in his last fights with Gene Fullmer. Past prime and old, Robinson would not have another notable victory in his career, and finally retired 4 years later after losing to Joey Archer.
Though his career ended badly just like many other ATGs, his legacy had already been established years before. Not many other fighters can claim to have accomplished as much as Sugar Ray Robinson.
34+ Wins over top opposition.