. More Boxing News-------------------------- Boxing Interviews---------------------------- UFC/MMA NEWS
Carmen Basilio: A Name that Still Matters
By Vito Trabucco (Jun 1, 2004) 
Carmen Basilio
Photo ©
Looking back at the illustrious history of boxing, it’s funny to see some of the names that are left out when we talk about some of our greatest pugilists. Names like Beau Jack, Gene Fullmer, Billy Conn, Benny Leonard, but the one name that still rarely comes up to my surprise is the great Carmen Basilio. I’d hate to think that his legacy is still hiding in the shadows of Sugar Ray Robinson, but it shouldn’t. This is a tribute to one of the best pound for pound champions of the 20th century, but it’s also a reminder to all of us that so easily we tend to forget the great ones that paved the way that the rest have followed.

Carmen Basilio was born on April 2, 1927 in Canastota, New York. This son of an onion worker quickly joined the Marines at an early age. After an Honorable Discharge, Carmen turned pro in 1948. He learned early in his career about heartbreak with tough losses to Chuck Davey and Billy Graham, but that wouldn’t last for long. This warrior had greatness coming up on the horizon, and his vehicle to get there were two fists hiding behind two leather gloves.

Carmen later came back to beat Graham for the New York State Welterweight Title. He then defended the title with a draw, again against Graham. Basilio's first world title bout, against Kid Gavilan was an agonizing contest. He dropped Gavilan in the second round. The Kid barely beat the count and recovered to win a 15-round decision. Basilio was heartbroken again.

Free Press Video: 
Watch and hear from Bernard Hopkins, Oscar De La Hoya, Robert Allen and Felix Sturm. This weekend's fights promise to be hot. See The Press Conference that kick started it all.
Free At
Click Pic Below: Opens in Media Player
(Video ©
Basilio went 9-0-2 in his next 11 bouts. His dream of winning a world title was finally achieved on June 10, 1955. Before a hometown crowd in nearby Syracuse he went toe-to-toe in a bloody contest with then Welterweight Champion Tony DeMarco. The champ got the better of the two in the early rounds, but Basilio came on strong, dropping DeMarco twice in the 10th round and pressed the issue until the referee stepped in and halted the bout in the 12th. Carmen’s Heartbreak was no more. He was the new Welterweight Champion of the World.

Basilio beat DeMarco in his first defense, but lost a 15-round decision to Johnny Saxton in his next fight. He then regained the title from Saxton in a rematch with a 9th round knockout and stopped him in two rounds in the first defense during his second reign.

Basilio set his sights on the middleweight crown and the man who owened it was Sugar Ray Robinson. That bout took place Sept. 23, at Yankee Stadium. Giving away height and reach, he sustained heavy punishment and a badly cut left eye, but was able to win the title in one of the most action-packed bouts of the decade.

However, Robinson regained the title back on March 25 of the following year. Basilio fought most of the bout with his left eye totally shut, and afterwards gained even more respect than he did with any of his victories.

Basilio retired from the ring with a professional record of 56-16-7, 27 KO’s, and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 where he has been seen every year it seems.

So next time you’re sitting around talking about boxing with one of the “old-timers”, and they tell you that Sugar Ray Robinson would’ve licked any of the fighters out there today, just nod your head and agree, but then remind him of a fighter that he couldn’t lick. Remind him of a fighter that we too often forget about. The great Carmen Basilio. If you read this column, I got a feeling that you won’t forget about him again either.
© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing 1998-2004