Last month on SecondsOut: Legends, Patrick Kehoe and Anthony Evans proved that the powerbook is truly mightier than the sword when they hacked into each other over the ultimate historical question: Who was greater, Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali? After the dust had settled we asked you, our readers, the true judges of fistic antiquity, for your views.
Just as the opinion of SecondsOut’s writing staff is split on one of the eternal questions in boxing lore, so too we received a very mixed bag of emails. Some people were refreshed by a different take on exactly who was the best fighter of all time, while others were incensed that the dominance of Sugar Ray – secure for decades in the hearts and minds of hardcore boxing fans – had been questioned. Here are some of the best responses, edited for brevity (and legality).
Sugar Ray Robinson is the greatest. His brutal grace in the ring said it all. He did not have to flap his jaws!
- Jacobs Fish
Ali better than Robinson - that’s absurd! Ali isnt even in the top 10 all time fighters - he is the best heavyweight but not fighter.Robinson, Pernell Whitaker, Duran, Armstrong, Mickey Walker, Sam Langford, Jimmy Wilde. I even put Tony Canzoneri above him and Benny Leonard and Ray Leonard and Willie Pep...these guys fought hundreds of times and won titles in many different weight classes with the exception of Pep and Benny Leonard...often fighting guys much bigger naturally.
Gimme a friggin break with this Ali bull...he was great but only at heavy...and a young Tyson from 86-89 would of killed Ali in any era but Ali lasted longer at the top and beat more fighters who were also great… Tyson didnt have that luxury at his peak.
(Evans) should get some tips from Kehoe!
Finally someone has had the “sugar” to call time on this Robinson bull. As Evans wrote Robinson quit like a dog? Why? Was his jaw busted like Ali’s v Norton? Was he a death’s door like Ali v Smokin Joe 3? No. He was hot. Big deal. So was Maxim. Ali is, was and will always be the greatest!
Sugar Ray is a fab fighter, but he never ever caused an upset. Ergo, he never fought anyone considered on his level, much less beat someone expected to literally kill him like Foreman (v Ali). Muhammad, the Greatest, wins the battle P4P.
- Big Popa Pump, Maryland
Robinson beats Ali, pound-for-pound, every time. You just can’t get away with dissing Robinson – that is boxing sacrilege! So what if Ali was faster (and I bet he wasn’t, that cannot be proven and everyone knows Bill Cayton is a big Ali mark) Robinson was untouchable, the closest thing to a boxing god in history. It is not right to suddenly say Ali is the best ever just because Will Smith isn’t in a Robinson film! Ali cannot be the P4P No.1 after losing to Norton three times, Frazier twice and even poor Leon Spinks.
- Scott Morton, Germany
C’mon (Evans) do you really believe that? Ali’s biggest wins were tricking George Foreman (not too hard a thing to do, judging by his HBO commentary) and two fixed fights with the once-great Sonny Liston. Frazier is not a legendary fighter (but he still beat Ali fair and square) and neither are guys like Norton, Spinks, Shavers, Moore and the others. Sugar Ray beat LaMotta fully five times, dominated two division like no other in history, and prove himself beyond doubt the best of all time.
Ali never worked the body, never threw a left hook off the jab, never punched with that much power. How can he be better than Robinson, who invented most of the moves that Jones, De La Hoya and Mosley are using 40 years later? In terms of talent, it’s a no brainer – Robinson is the greatest fight of all time. Like your man said: he is the champion’s champion.
What are you guys talking about? Who says Ali and Ray are the two best of all time? What about Duran, Louis, Pep and the others? I think it’s a bit much to say these two are the best off all time but Ali gets the nod, in my opinion. He would have beaten Robinson P4P and I am convinced that Ali was the smarter fighter. I think Mosley today is better but what Sugar Ray could do in the ring was amazing, but Ali’s bravery gives in the nod. Whether he could have beaten Louis, dunno. But he beats Sugar Ray.
- Karl Flock, New York
Robinson is a total myth. None of his best fights are on tape anywhere and we’re supposed to believe on these old farts say so. Uh…NO! All that stuff these old timers guff out: Louis could beat Lewis even though he was like 198lbs and Lewis is 250lbs, that Marciano could actually throw a punch without falling on his ass, that all the guys in the 1940s were so much better etc etc – it’s all total BS. Robinson was so great?? Send me the tape!!! Show me! Ali’s best stuff can be watched again and again – proof right there in living colour. I don’t believe anything on say-so, esp about fighters.
- Mike Lewis, Stanford
In boxing, bigger is never better. Sure, Ali could have been faster if he was smaller, but skill wise he just could do things that Robinson practically invented. Ali was the greater name and did more for boxing than anyone has every done for any sport… but he wasn’t as great in the ring as Sugar Ray and a few other like Pep and Armstrong. No matter how much he’s loved… Ali was didn’t the greatest.
- Rod Sunderland, UK
Robinson has been called the greatest for so long its accepted as “fact” – like Friday follows Thursday. But it is simply not true – he lost like 20 times! Sure most of those where when he was a fossil but he also lost in his prime something Ali never did.
Just because he was funny and a mega mouth don’t make Ali better.