1948-06-28 Sugar Ray Robinson w pts 15 Bernard Docusen, Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA - WORLD

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1948-06-28 Sugar Ray Robinson w pts 15 Bernard Docusen, Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA - WORLD. Referee: Walter Brightmore. Having trouble making the weight, the champion found Docusen (145½) a more than worthy foe and for the first ten rounds, which were contested at a fast gallop, there was little between the pair. Finally, at the start of the 11th Robinson (146½) turned loose a blistering assault which sent Docusen into the ropes and eventually saw him dropped for ‘nine’ by a vicious left hook to the jaw. Fighting back desperately on rising, Docusen saved himself from being downed again and continued to try and take the play away from the fast-tiring Robinson, who was cut under the right eye by left jabs in the 14th. Coming on strong again in the 15th as Docusen visibly ran out of gas, Robinson tried hard to finish his challenger off but was unable to do so, ultimately having to settle for the unanimous decision cast in his favour.

Following the fight the top three in the world, according to The Ring magazine, were Doug Ratford, Docusen and Kid Gavilan, who had been defeated twice by Ratford. At that moment in time it looked as though Ratford would be next in line for Robinson, but he got himself outpointed by Tommy Bell and his chance had gone.

Fast running out of challengers in his own weight class, despite Gavilan giving him a tough time in a non-title fight on 23 September, Robinson (w pts 10 at the Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC, New York) was by now eying up the middleweights. Having agreed to make 150lbs for Gavilan, who claimed the $5,000 forfeit after Robinson was unable to get within the required poundage, many good judges were saying that he would never make 147lbs again.

In November, the London promoter, Jack Solomons, cabled Robinson an offer to fight either Henry Hall, the new British champion, or Eddie Thomas. Solomons must have taken into account the fact that the Docusen fight had to be postponed three times to allow Robinson to make the weight and when he did he was not the old Sugar Ray. There was no response, which was probably just as well.

At the end of the year, Robinson was quoted as saying that although he could still make 147lbs, he would be prepared to give the title up if he could be guaranteed a contest with Marcel Cerdan for the middleweight championship. Also, by now the lightweight champion, Ike Williams, was casting envious eyes at the welter crown, but in what were virtual eliminators he was twice beaten on points over ten rounds on 28 January and 1 April 1949 at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC by Gavilan, who was now without doubt Robinson’s leading challenger.

Following those two victories, the trade papers were calling for the boxing commissions to force Robinson to either defend his title against Gavilan or to abdicate and, after much talk about him meeting Vince Foster or Docusen again, the match was finally made at the beginning of June.

Prior to this, on 10 February 1949 Robinson took on Gene Buffalo in a ten-round non-title fight at the West Side Armory, Kingston, Pennsylvania. When the two men weighed in Buffalo, who left his clothes on, was stated to be 148lbs, but when in the ring the announcer gave his weight as 145¾lbs. Fearing that he might lose his title, Robinson took no chances when getting down to work quickly and knocking Buffalo out in the opening session. Despite the Pennsylvanian Boxing Commission saying that Robinson could not lose his title in a non-title fight even though Buffalo was inside the championship weight the champion’s management team would not make the same mistake again.