Tony Zale was a former Middleweight champion in the 1940’s, a decade I consider to be the greatest in boxing history. Zale was nicknamed the man of steel, not just because he hailed from Gary, Indiana – a steel town but also for his ability to take an enormous amount of punishment and still carry on to win the fight. Never was this more evident in his trilogy with another Middleweight champion, the hard hitting Rocky Graziano. Their three fights are considered amongst the most exciting and it is their third fight which is subject to my breakdown below.
The fight didn’t last long, Zale winning by knockout in round three but in those three rounds you can already see the work Tony Zale is doing setting up the knockout. Zale was especially good in using the feint in this fight and firstly we see how Zale worked in the feint whilst using the jab.
The first knockdown of the fight was set up by the jab feint, Zale feinted the jab and instead threw the leaping left hook, with Graziano moving straight back expecting the jab, Zale was able to catch him by surprise and force the knockdown.
The next feint we see Zale using is again off the jab feint but this time he follows it up with the right hook to the body, Zale would touch the jab feint to the body or use it to fall short up top and his aim here was to draw the lead from Rocky Graziano or to make Graziano drop the guard to block the body jab, Zale would then throw the right to the body. Now off this Zale could work in the right to the head, by feinting the jab or touching to the body with the jab and then throwing the right hand to the body, Zale could make Graziano expect the right to the body off the jab feint and then he could instead throw the right to the head, creating an element of unpredictability in his attack and confusion in the mind of Graziano.
Once Zale had peppered Graziano with those jab feints and rights to the body, he introduced another wrinkle and that was the left hook to the head off the right hand to the body. Zale would feint the jab to the body, throw the right to the body and then switch levels with the left hook to the head. The knockout to finish the fight was a right to the body and left hook to the head, no doubt set up by Tony Zale’s earlier work of using the jab feint.