The greatest boxer of all time was known for a lot of things, his combination punching, his speed, his footwork, the ability to knock a man out with either hand and even knock an opponent out going backwards, but in this video I’ll have a look at a more crafty skill of Robinson and that was his ability to control an opponent.
Sugar Ray Robinson was 37yrs old in the clips used in the video, by this stage of his career he really had seen it all and pretty much all of his opponents were younger than him, that meant Robinson had to use a few wily tricks to keep the younger men at bay…
The first clip we see Carmen Basilio catching Robinson with a right to the body, so what does Robinson do? He immediately checks the rear hand of Basilio so he can’t throw with it and then fires off some punches of his own off this check.
Next up we see Robinson attempting a rear uppercut which glances off the opponent, now this can be a pretty risky shot especially if you miss but to make sure there is no comeback, Robinson uses his lead hand to control Basilio and push him away so Basilio cannot counter the uppercut. Now Robinson could use this same pushing technique against other punches, such as a lead left hook. Which Robinson saw coming and pushed Basilio away by his head and he was able to take the sting off the punch.
Sugar Ray could use similar methods when he missed with the right hook, as he missed and turned he could use the stiff arm to block any counter punch to the right hook. He could something of a stiff arm punch as well, when Robinson landed a left hook, he held the punch on the opponent and used that to pivot away and again out of harms way from any counter punch. The stiff arm would also be used to nudge Basilio away when he tried to come in low attacking – Robinson making use of his height and reach advantage.
Robinson liked to lean on opponents but he could switch it up if he saw an opening whilst doing so, in one of the clips in the video Robinson begins by leaning on Basilio but then uses his hands to pull on Basilio’s head and gloves to set up further punches.
A very smart trick is employed next, Robinson is off balance after rolling under a punch but to prevent Basilio hitting him when he is off balance, Robinson holds on to the lead arm of Basilio and when Basilio tries to hit Robinson with his free hand, by that time Robinson has regained balance and is just out of reach.
Another trick is something I’ve seen Joe Louis use and that is when jabbing, the rear hand extends to check the opponents glove to prevent any counter to the jab. Lastly we see Robinson using head control again with a quick nudge of the gloves onto the head of Basilio after finishing a combination and retreating.
Watch the video below to see Sugar Ray Robinson putting all of this together with some old school boxing trickery.