Originally Posted by McGrain
Probably to much wear and tare, probably to hard to stay in the necessary Marciano condition. He also began to have back trouble later in his career, didn't he?
He was having serious back trouble from the outset if his career. A physician told him that corrective surgery would keep him out for at least a year, and that he'd likely never be able to compete again. He had exercises prescribed for having his legs stretched to compensate as part of the training process, and opted to stick with that treatment as an alternative to an invasive and career threatening (possibly even life threatening) operation. This is one of the amazing things about The Rock, that he overcame something which nearly crippled and killed the likes of JFK. (And given Kennedy's problems with his back, and how difficult his recovery from back surgery was, Marciano probably made the right call in forgoing such an operation during the late 1940s.)
We didn't see Rocky take on monsters like Fulton and Willard repeatedly, or contenders of size like Carl Morris and Firpo. With his lack of height and reach, opponents of this stature may have posed serious logistical issues for Marciano. Big Johnny Shkor's mauling gave Rocky some issues through the first four rounds, and Vingo was a war. Fulton had a glass jaw, but Langford wasn't able to exploit it, and Wills broke Fred's ribs instead. Jack caught Fulton cold, not Marciano's likely MO against an opponent of this caliber. (For one, Rocky didn't tear after world class adversaries at the opening bell the way Dempsey went after Fulton and Firpo [and Luis was prepared to make Jack pay for Dempsey's aggression before the resonance from the opening bell had even died down]. I think Marciano would afford opponents like this a chance to get off first with their greater height and reach. Jack was bigger than his competitive weights suggest.)
In Tunney versus Marciano threads, I've taken the position that Gene from the Heeney fight would have decisioned Rocky over the championship distance.
Meehan was a miserable bastard over the four round limit. He got the better of Langford after taking Fulton that abbreviated distance in back to back matches. (These three bouts were immediately following his last match with Jack.) Willie also beat Jeff Clark over four rounds. A peak 25 year old Wills failed to stop Fat Boy over that distance (although, like Jack, Harry was able to at least deck the sailor). He drew with prime Miske over four. Marciano definitely does not go 5-0 in a quintet of four round bouts with Willie, let alone 3-0 in Meehan's San Francisco. Willie heard the bell for round 20 four times in his career, and actually stopped Walter Coffey before that final round ended. Marciano would run out of time for producing a stoppage under a four round limit rule set.