Another Falls as Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 Is Still Standing Since 1955!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Oct 8, 2009)    
For over 50 years since “The Brockton Blockbuster” Rocky Marciano retired after his September 21st fight in 1955 with Archie Moore there have only been a handful of boxers that surpassed his 49-0 record. But none of these boxers would retire with an unblemished record. Recently in Manchester, New Hampshire another “Marciano record breaker want-to-be” bit the dust. But before we go there let’s look at some others who came close.

Joe Calzaghe, 46-0, the man Roy Jones, Jr. called “the best pound for pound boxer” after losing to him in November of 2008 retired after that fight. The Pride of Wales was so close to matching the Rock’s record. “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather is currently at 40-0 and stopped Ricky Hattons streak at 43-0. Alabama’s Don Steele in 1997 had won 40 straight all by knockout (1 no decision) when he lost to Denmark’s Brian Nielsen, then 38-0. Nielsen would get to 49-0 tying the Marciano mark until he faced Dickie Ryan and ran out of gas in the 10th and final round.

The man Muhammad Ali called “Peanut Head,” Larry Holmes, reached 48-0 when he lost to the light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks. Holmes was more upset with Marciano than he was with Spinks who had defeated him when he said “Marciano couldn’t wear my jock strap”. Not known to be a good sport, it took Holmes 25 years before apologizing by saying “what I meant to say was he couldn’t walk down the same sidewalk I do”. If that was the apology than Ali’s nickname fits!

Mike Tyson reached 37 before Buster Douglas stopped him in what some called “the upset of the century”. I saw Douglas recently at a “signing show” and he looked big but fit. Another heavyweight called the “Russian Giant” Nikolay Valuev reached 46-0 in 2007 before losing to Ruslan Chagaev. One of the best pound for pound fighters in his day Ricardo Lopez was 47-0 in 1998 when a TD with Rosendo Alvarez spoiled his unblemished record while later retiring at 51-0-1. Poland’s Dariusz Michalczewski was 48-0 when he lost his WBO title to Julio Gonzalez by split decision in 2003 in his adopted homeland of Germany.

There have been four boxers who have surpassed Marciano’s 49-0 but couldn’t resist that temptation of “one more fight”. Still active today is Yuri Boy Campas who was 56-0 when he lost to Felix “Tito” Trinidad who would eventually get to 40-0 before losing to Bernard Hopkins who failed to stop Calzaghe at 44-0, but stopped Kelly Pavlik at 34-0.
Italy’s Nino LaRocca got to 57-0 before losing to Gilles Elbilia in 1984. Hall of Famer Willie Pep was 62-0 before losing to Sammy Angott in 1943. The fighter with the most wins before losing was the great Mexican world champion Julio Cesar Chavez at 87-0 until he drew with Pernell Whitaker in 1993. He’d have 2 more wins before losing for the first time to Frankie Randall in 1994.

Today, besides Mayweather at 40-0, we have little known Cesar Cuenca, 36-0, from Argentina with only 1 knockout win. In September Bob Spagnola guided his heavyweight David “Nino” Rodriguez up to 32-0 going back to 1998 when he debuted. In that same year Butch Lewis turned his heavyweight Faruq “The Dream” Saleem of Newark, New Jersey and managed to get his record up to 38-0 up until September 23rd in Manchester, New Hampshire. This writer had witnessed Saleem only once, at the legendary Blue Horizon, struggling to win a majority decision over Sedrick Fields in 6 rounds. If Fields hadn’t clowned around so much he would have beaten the 6:07 Saleem. This brings me to the lengths some people will go to go reach the 49-0 Marciano produced. Saleem in his 39th fight took on his 28th opponent with a losing record. After 11 years he was in a 6 round preliminary fight against Sean McLean, 3-4. It was reported the usual suspects were at ringside when Saleem fought, in Lewis, former two division champion Michael Spinks and the IBF light middleweight champ Cory Spinks. No word if Leon was there or not. By the 4th round Saleem had “shot his load” and the fight was stopped at the 1:22 mark. Though it may have taken Lewis another 5 years to have his fighter reach the 49-0 mark of Marciano’s I had to laugh to myself thinking “the Rock’s 49-0 lives on”!

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Ken at: kenhissner@yahoo.com




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