Re: How would a prime Charles have fared against Marciano?
Pre-Baroudi, 1948 Ezzard Charles would do better than the 1954 version.
Remember, Charles was, by '55 at the earliest, already stiffening due to ALS. I think it's a safe bet that his body was beginning to betray him by the time he faced Marciano, and how he fought Marciano speaks to that pretty clearly to me. His legs looked better to me against Walcott and Louis.
Ezzard wasn't an attrition fighter -he was perhaps the greatest boxer-puncher who ever lived. But he's in close with Marciano, instead of being a matador or at least drawing him out for counters ... why? I think it was because his hands were much slower due to age, and especially because his legs were stiffening due to age and probably ALS.
And YET, he still wobbles Marciano in the first round.
Does he beat Marciano...? I wouldn't go that far. I have a hard time seeing any light heavyweight in history beating that beast. I don't, for example, believe for a moment that Archie ever would have beaten Marciano... but Ezzard was better than Archie and if there is one exception among the 175 pounders who could beat Marciano, I'd go with Charles.