1949-07-11 Sugar Ray Robinson w pts 15 Kid Gavilan, Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - WORLD

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1949-07-11 Sugar Ray Robinson w pts 15 Kid Gavilan, Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - WORLD. Referee: Charles Daggert. Scorecards: 9-6, 9-6, 12-3. Well documented that Robinson (147) had trouble making the weight, in recognising this Gavilan (144½) set up a fair pace in the opening rounds when attacking strongly and cutting the champion over the right eye in the fourth. From the fifth onwards, however, Robinson began to dominate, milling on the retreat, pulling Gavilan up short with straight lefts and blocking the latter’s best blows when at close range. Although Gavilan was always trying it was Robinson who hit with the greater accuracy and precision, and while the switch-hitting Cuban took advantage when the champion coasted at times he could never assume control. The last three rounds saw Robinson at his best as he opened up, staggering Gavilan with straight lefts and hooks to the jaw and a cracking right uppercut which almost took the latter off his feet. While Gavilan claimed that the fight was much closer than suggested by the cards, Robinson well deserved the unanimous decision.

In his next contest Robinson proved he was a match for any middleweight in the world when he dismantled the leading contender, Steve Belloise. Subsequently, it was assumed that Robinson would soon abdicate the welter division as he continued to take on middleweights, despite having the occasional catchweight contest with men such as George Costner, the second-ranked welter, who was dispatched in a round. Then, on 5 June 1950, he won the Pennsylvanian version of the world middleweight title when beating France’s Robert Villemain, a fight that came about after repeated challenges to Jake LaMotta, who had won the world middleweight championship from Marcel Cerdan in June, fell on deaf ears.

Earlier, in May, the NBA had warned all champions that they were expected to defend every six months or else. This certainly applied to Robinson, who had consistently ignored the same ruling that the NYSAC operated. At the end of June 1950, Al Weill, the Madison Square Garden matchmaker, asked the NYSAC to approve an elimination tournament involving Billy Graham, Charley Fusari, Lester Felton, Bernard Docusen and Kid Gavilan to find a new champion, but within a matter of days it was announced that Robinson would be defending his welter title against Fusari in early August.

In response to those who said that he should defend the title at least twice a year Robinson said that he had looked for worthy challengers even when the NYSAC and NBA had failed to designate an opponent, and had, on occasion, offered to meet certain fighters in defence of the championship only for them to be uninterested.