Boxing’s hiatus has offered up some positives. Having spent days scouring the internet looking to add to my slightly obsessive boxing book collection, old editions of Boxing News and the Ring Magazine have snuck their way into my virtual baskets.
I’m no boxing historian – not even close. The gap in my knowledge from the sport’s yesteryear has enabled me to enjoy flicking through endless articles without being clouded or confused by preconceptions.
A piece written by Ted Carroll in the Ring’s October 1952 edition made me pause for thought. “Money Fighters” was the title, but this term had a different sentiment 68 years ago.
Today, we think of “Money Fighters” in a post-Mayweather world of greed. Who can earn the most from a fight by taking the smallest risk in return; who can generate the most pay-per-view sales; which fighter has made the Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
In 1952, a “Money Fighter” was the guy who rose to the occasion, often when their back was against the wall. Clutch, perhaps, coupled with offering unrivalled entertainment. Carroll described Kid Gavilan – world welterweight champion at the time – as being the epitome of a “value-for-money” fighter.
“A fighter who is at his best when the chips are down,” Carroll wrote. “Most champions have that little extra something when the pressure is really on. That’s how they become champions in the first place. When it comes to acting like a real champion under fire, Gavilan is close to the top of that list.”
“There have been better boxers and harder hitters in the title ranks, but no champion in recent years took his honours more seriously than the Cubanola from the cane breaks of Camaguey.”
Carroll would go on to list Tony Canzoneri (a three-division world champion throughout the 1930s), Sixto Escobar (Puerto Rico’s first world champion in the bantamweight division) and Jake LaMotta in a similar vein.
“Much criticized Jake LaMotta has always been a hard man to beat in a ‘Big One’ and he still is,” Carroll described “The Raging Bull”. Jake’s defence of his middleweight title against the capable Frenchman, Laurent Dauthuille in Detroit in 1950, was a prime example of a titleholder coming through with a do-or-die effort in the closing minutes of an apparently lost cause.”
“Jake isn’t considered a puncher, but he dug one up from somewhere, and running way behind on points, kayoed Dauthuille with but 13 seconds remaining of the 15 round bout.”
So, it begs the question: out of today’s crop of fighters, who would you regard to be an old school “Money Fighter”?
Julio Cesar Martinez.