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Old 01-08-2008, 08:03 PM   #1
Stonehands89
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Default 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

"Defending WW Champion Henry Armstrong vs. Charlie Burley"

In 1938 after Armstrong defended his WW title against Ceferino Garcia, Burley's manager (Chappy Goldstein) tried to get his man a shot by talking to Meade, who was Armstrong's manager.

Meade told Goldstein that Armstrong would be "moving back down to lightweight and would relinquish the title." This, of course, turned out to be a fib because Hank defended that title another 18 times until Fritzie Zivic took it (and then KOd him in the rematch, only to lose the rubber a couple of years later).

Burley, by the time Zivic took the title, had beaten Zivic 2 out of 3 times. Zivic bought Burley's contract to make damn sure he didn't have to defend and inevitably lose the title against him.

On January 10, 1939, Armsrong defended the WW title against Arizmendi in CA while over in Pittsburgh, Burley was in a barnburner against Sonny Jones. Burley needed a bonecraft after that fight on his left hand. At this time, Burley was hitting hard with every shot. [Those of you who over glorify modern fighters should pay attention to this:] After the Jones fight Charley dropped out of contention because he was inactive for 5 months (5 months!!!) while Zanelli, Armstrong, and Zivic tore it up -fighting practically every month.

Anyway, Burley never got the title shot in his natural division, which is a crying shame. Discuss how you see Armstrong-Burley going had they met each other instead of Arizmendi and Jones on that January night 60 years ago.
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Old 01-08-2008, 08:39 PM   #2
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

He beat archie moore and holman williams, i dont think armstrong is gonna bother him, way too small.
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Old 01-08-2008, 09:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

I agree with brownpimpm88, Armstrong is too small for Burley. Burley decisions him uneventfully.
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Old 01-08-2008, 10:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

Burley UD. Armstrong lasts the distance but gets beaten up in the process.
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Old 01-10-2008, 07:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

This fight has always intrigued me...The contrasting styles and how they would mesh...Could Armstrong use his trademark pressure and smother Burley's technique and his power?
Henry Armstrong's mark on the record book absolutely astounds me...Three similtaneous world championships and then the draw for the middleweight title...Amazing.
When I've brought up Armstrong threads before...The consensus is that while Armstrong is indeed a great fighter, he would not be able to beat the very elite of the welterweight division...due to his size. This is a very valid point of view...But is this totally true? That... I'm not so sure.
I know when you look back a fighter's records, taking into account 'who did what to whom, and how long did it take'? This can definitely be like comparing apples to oranges...so to speak. But this is what I'm going to do here...Glancing (quickly) at Fred Apostoli's record, I think that he was only stopped twice before the final bell...Once by Melio Bettina, a lightheavy...and once when he lost the middlweight title to Ceferino Garcia. Apostoli went the distance with such notables as Zale,Conn, Steele, Abrams etc...he has the record of a very durable fighter against top notch oppositon.
Armstrong argueably defeated Garcia twice, in a welter defense and the draw at middleweight. Did Armstong face the same hard hitting Garcia who kayoed Apostoli? Absolutely. I don't know the details of all of this, but following his kayo loss to Garcia, he (Apostoli) went on to being able to defeat some very good fighters...some of the best of his era.
Garcia also defeated some notable fighters as well, including one Lloyd Marshall...
I'm making an assumption here...but I believe Armstrong has the durablity and technique to smother Burley, and gives him an evening he does not forget. Armstrong was the greatest 'come forward' fighter in boxing history...IMO. He never took a backward step, regardless of who he was fighting, or how big they were...
I consider Burley as being a very special fighter...IMO he would beat Armstrong by decision...Armstrong definitely makes him earn it, however...If they fought a series, Armstrong would take one in three, his record convinces me of this.

Last edited by dpw417; 01-10-2008 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 01-10-2008, 08:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

Nice job dpw.

This is a difficult one to call. Armstrong had already hit a great stride in '39 with a 41 fight win streak -and was a dominant fighter. Small for a WW yes, but he made up for it in surprising ways. He was surprisingly strong but the way he would maneuver larger guys on the inside was efficient enough to conserve strength. He actively used his elbows and did not lean on guys or get leaned on -what he did was use leverage and an agility that was elastic -and land vicious shots up close, both under and over the top. And he just did not stop.

Burley style is among the most complex that I have ever seen. Moore described him as "serpentine". And he was. He would slide while punching in an exaggerated manner to his left usually, while throwing a left jab. Actually, the jab was shot out hard enough to be similar to Moore's "left-cross" -he knocked Moore down with one of those. Moore also said that he would seem to be off balance often... but rarely was. I see alot of bait and switch in the Smith film. He would jump in and jump out like Roy Jones. He would jump in and throw the kind of left hook to the body that jerked his own head up. ALL of his shots were designed to hurt. Which is why his hands gave out. His overhand right was done with an exaggerated lean to his left -this reminds me of Dempsey. In fact, he throws shots with Dempsey-like leverage. His stance was wide than the technician's and he held his hands low and would often lean back and out. If you watch his style, it is reminiscent at times of Benny Leonard -or other fighters from the 20s. He would angle sharply and show you his left shoulder and then jump back when you took the bait -then he'd try to nail you with a hook as you came in. Most of his peers were getting more efficient and tight. Not Burley, he was hearkening back a decade or two! And it worked.

Tough call this one. Armstrong -one dimensional but supreme in that dimension, he could conceivably out work him if he managed to get close enough to land shots. Burley struck me as less comfortable inside. He could read the shots easily, and then would spin off an elbow as soon as he wanted. Armstrong could counter that move though. Burley was murder outside though and if he catches Armstrong coming in it's trouble. His serpentine style would help here because Armstrong would find himself chasing the wind while Burley was jumping back and over. Burley would actually be ad******g the distance during these rushes to set up the big shots.

A four inch heigh advantage and serious mitts combined with a flexible style may be too much for Armstrong. Burley was awfully tough to pin down and at the same time he had guns.

Burley gets the slight advantage here. I'm more comfortable with that considering that Armstrong's people avoided Burley. Perhaps they agreed with us.

BORKED BORKED
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Old 01-12-2008, 04:57 AM   #7
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

Great thread. Nice to read some good boxing opinion. It's what internet boxing forums should be all about.

I think this is an even fight, though I understand why people are leaning to Burley. if push comes to shove I would too.

Armstrong has the relentlessness to throw Burley off his game. But having seen that Burley handled Archie I can't see a stoppage.

I just wonder if Burley would need more than one fight to figure out the way past the punching machine.
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Old 01-12-2008, 08:43 AM   #8
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ezzard
Great thread. Nice to read some good boxing opinion. It's what internet boxing forums should be all about.

I think this is an even fight, though I understand why people are leaning to Burley. if push comes to shove I would too.

Armstrong has the relentlessness to throw Burley off his game. But having seen that Burley handled Archie I can't see a stoppage.

I just wonder if Burley would need more than one fight to figure out the way past the punching machine.
I share your uncertainty.

I like the great swarmers. That style can overwhelm technicians and neutralize superior athleticism. Hell, I was looking for reasons to favor Armstrong.... Had Burley been shorter, had he not been such a serious counter puncher with the kind of power that could KO 200+ Elmer Ray with one shot, I'd favor Henry.

Burley had real trouble with Charles and Bivins. They were bigger than he and had evidently solved his confusing style. Armstrong was a smaller man coming up from the feathers and didn't try to "solve" a damn thing. He wasn't exactly an intellectual in there. I think it likely that Burley would catch him and avoid him enough to take a decision.
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Old 01-12-2008, 09:26 AM   #9
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stonehands89
I share your uncertainty.

I like the great swarmers. That style can overwhelm technicians and neutralize superior athleticism. Hell, I was looking for reasons to favor Armstrong.... Had Burley been shorter, had he not been such a serious counter puncher with the kind of power that could KO 200+ Elmer Ray with one shot, I'd favor Henry.

Burley had real trouble with Charles and Bivins. They were bigger than he and had evidently solved his confusing style. Armstrong was a smaller man coming up from the feathers and didn't try to "solve" a damn thing. He wasn't exactly an intellectual in there. I think it likely that Burley would catch him and avoid him enough to take a decision.
Stonehands, excellent points and analysis on Burley/Armstrong...Very interesting reading...
Armstrong knew the safest place in the ring for him was on the inside...He was a marvel...I think it is safe to say that there will never be another.
Burley looks good in the sped up video..btw.
Another fantastic match up would be Burley against the '79-'80 Roberto Duran
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Old 01-12-2008, 05:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpw417
Stonehands, excellent points and analysis on Burley/Armstrong...Very interesting reading...
Armstrong knew the safest place in the ring for him was on the inside...He was a marvel...I think it is safe to say that there will never be another.
Burley looks good in the sped up video..btw.
Another fantastic match up would be Burley against the '79-'80 Roberto Duran
I don't see Armstrong, or many other WWs dealing with the Duran of June, 1980. Robinson should be favored. Hearns, for me, is 50/50. I would favor Burley -perhaps even more than Robinson.

PS/There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Robinson, as great as he undeniably was, avoided Burley.
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Old 01-12-2008, 07:48 PM   #11
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

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Originally Posted by Stonehands89
I don't see Armstrong, or many other WWs dealing with the Duran of June, 1980. Robinson should be favored. Hearns, for me, is 50/50. I would favor Burley -perhaps even more than Robinson.

PS/There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Robinson, as great as he undeniably was, avoided Burley.
Roberto Duran in that time frame was just awesome...Not many would be able to cope with a highly motivated Duran...I would definitely favor Robinson against him though...Robinson was a vicious,fast, dynamic power punching welterweight...A fight with Duran and Kid Gavilan would have been as good as it gets...and of coarse Leonard, in his full boxing mode...But Burley? I'm not as sure he would take Roberto during his (Duran) peak welter days...The reason being is, I'm not totally positive how to quantify Burley's power and speed at the weight...Obiviously, it looks like he had Oakland Billy Smith's respect in their bout at light heavy...and he beat a heavyweight (Turner)...Which is saying something...But do you think Burley was as powerful as a Hearns? or Robinson at 147lbs? I cannot honestly say for sure...But I'm thinking not quite...For this reason, I just may have to pick Roberto over Burley at welter anyway(I wouldn't be betting any mortgage money on it)...Above that, I'd say Burley would take it...Not really sure.
I agree also that Robinson avoided Burley too...Logic tells me that Burley presented huge risk for less reward (money)...From a business stand point, it just did not make sense, which is a total shame at that time...I think from reading here on ESB, Robinson is quoted somewhere that he did not think he could beat Burley...Burley was also qouted that he thought Robinson would have been in trouble in a fight between them, but added that he might have been in some trouble too...Old school all the way...both of them...
As a stylistic counter puncher, with good power, he would definitely be a hard fight for Ray...He just may have Robinson's number so to speak...At the time their fight(s) were proposed, the experienced Burley might have been too much for Ray... But for both at their peak, I think Robinson is greater...IMO.
Historians usually go that route as well...
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Old 01-12-2008, 08:05 PM   #12
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stonehands89
Nice job dpw.

This is a difficult one to call. Armstrong had already hit a great stride in '39 with a 41 fight win streak -and was a dominant fighter. Small for a WW yes, but he made up for it in surprising ways. He was surprisingly strong but the way he would maneuver larger guys on the inside was efficient enough to conserve strength. He actively used his elbows and did not lean on guys or get leaned on -what he did was use leverage and an agility that was elastic -and land vicious shots up close, both under and over the top. And he just did not stop.

Burley style is among the most complex that I have ever seen. Moore described him as "serpentine". And he was. He would slide while punching in an exaggerated manner to his left usually, while throwing a left jab. Actually, the jab was shot out hard enough to be similar to Moore's "left-cross" -he knocked Moore down with one of those. Moore also said that he would seem to be off balance often... but rarely was. I see alot of bait and switch in the Smith film. He would jump in and jump out like Roy Jones. He would jump in and throw the kind of left hook to the body that jerked his own head up. ALL of his shots were designed to hurt. Which is why his hands gave out. His overhand right was done with an exaggerated lean to his left -this reminds me of Dempsey. In fact, he throws shots with Dempsey-like leverage. His stance was wide than the technician's and he held his hands low and would often lean back and out. If you watch his style, it is reminiscent at times of Benny Leonard -or other fighters from the 20s. He would angle sharply and show you his left shoulder and then jump back when you took the bait -then he'd try to nail you with a hook as you came in. Most of his peers were getting more efficient and tight. Not Burley, he was hearkening back a decade or two! And it worked.

Tough call this one. Armstrong -one dimensional but supreme in that dimension, he could conceivably out work him if he managed to get close enough to land shots. Burley struck me as less comfortable inside. He could read the shots easily, and then would spin off an elbow as soon as he wanted. Armstrong could counter that move though. Burley was murder outside though and if he catches Armstrong coming in it's trouble. His serpentine style would help here because Armstrong would find himself chasing the wind while Burley was jumping back and over. Burley would actually be ad******g the distance during these rushes to set up the big shots.

A four inch heigh advantage and serious mitts combined with a flexible style may be too much for Armstrong. Burley was awfully tough to pin down and at the same time he had guns.

Burley gets the slight advantage here. I'm more comfortable with that considering that Armstrong's people avoided Burley. Perhaps they agreed with us.

BORKED BORKED
How tantalising is that footage! Burley shows excellent hand and foot speed ,but it is his head movement that impresses me most,he comes in with a low guard ,his shoulder raised ,able to stay in the danger zone without getting caught,agile on his feet ,with great balance,from the middle rounds he becomes more aggressive,and you forget he is 12 lbs the lighter man. I think he would be too big and strong for Armstrong,Burley is a level above Garcia,imo ,I beleive he would have the armoury to punish Henry as he came in ,and the ring smarts to smother him inside ,I think he takes a close but U dec.
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Old 01-12-2008, 08:13 PM   #13
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

Burley looks awful predictable in that footage, loading up on the right hand, no left hook at all, just a short uppercut to the body. Still, very effective. I do not argue with his resume.
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Old 01-12-2008, 09:37 PM   #14
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

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Originally Posted by Seamus
Burley looks awful predictable in that footage, loading up on the right hand, no left hook at all, just a short uppercut to the body. Still, very effective. I do not argue with his resume.
Burley was using caution against a larger man... but he wasn't predictable -he was feinting and slipping and sliding all over the place. He also, if you noticed, 'boxed on springs'. Jones did this as well. Moore said that Burley's head "was flying like a threshing machine" and that he could punch from any angle." I think that this style is complimentary because it enable a fighter to land more shots from a wider variety of angles and also provided added leverage if you had that kind of physical agility.
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Old 01-12-2008, 10:22 PM   #15
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Default Re: 10 January -69 years ago. The Fight That Should Have Been

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpw417
Roberto Duran in that time frame was just awesome...Not many would be able to cope with a highly motivated Duran...I would definitely favor Robinson against him though...Robinson was a vicious,fast, dynamic power punching welterweight...A fight with Duran and Kid Gavilan would have been as good as it gets...and of coarse Leonard, in his full boxing mode...But Burley? I'm not as sure he would take Roberto during his (Duran) peak welter days...The reason being is, I'm not totally positive how to quantify Burley's power and speed at the weight...Obiviously, it looks like he had Oakland Billy Smith's respect in their bout at light heavy...and he beat a heavyweight (Turner)...Which is saying something...But do you think Burley was as powerful as a Hearns? or Robinson at 147lbs? I cannot honestly say for sure...But I'm thinking not quite...For this reason, I just may have to pick Roberto over Burley at welter anyway(I wouldn't be betting any mortgage money on it)...Above that, I'd say Burley would take it...Not really sure.
Burley was physically stronger than both SRR and Hearns. I'd say very much so. Duran would not be the stronger man in there, first of all. Second of all, Burley had a 75 inch reach. That's only 3 inches shorter than Hearns'.

As for power, Burley has been described as a heavy puncher. Robinson and Hearns had faster, more shocking KO power, but Burley was a demon with those overhands and although his shots were a step slower, they came from odd angles and at unexpected times. Even Duran's great skill would not mitigate the tough time he would inevitably have with the unorthodoxy of a bigger, highly skilled, and hungry great.

J.D. Turner outweighed Charley Burley by 70 pounds and told Futch that he actually woke up in the dressing room after the Burley fight. Elmer Ray said that Burley hit harder than any HW he had ever fought and probably harder than any current ranked contender. I doubt that anyone would have said the same about SRR or the Hitman himself.

Now, Duran respected power. He was more wary of it when he left the LWs behind him because bigger men hit harder. This is a big part of the reason why he countered more and rushed less -he became more ...careful. A careful Duran is not the real Duran; a careful Duran is more beatable. This really explains why I just cannot agree that a LW like Whitaker would stand much of a chance over a prime, primal 1978 Duran. Duran would simply not respect him and all the finesse in the world is not going to keep him at bay. Burley, however, would keep him at bay -and could absolutely hurt him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpw417
I agree also that Robinson avoided Burley too...Logic tells me that Burley presented huge risk for less reward (money)...From a business stand point, it just did not make sense, which is a total shame at that time...I think from reading here on ESB, Robinson is quoted somewhere that he did not think he could beat Burley...Burley was also qouted that he thought Robinson would have been in trouble in a fight between them, but added that he might have been in some trouble too...Old school all the way...both of them...
As a stylistic counter puncher, with good power, he would definitely be a hard fight for Ray...He just may have Robinson's number so to speak...At the time their fight(s) were proposed, the experienced Burley might have been too much for Ray... But for both at their peak, I think Robinson is greater...IMO.
Historians usually go that route as well...
First of all, Robinson was greater. No question. Burley cannot be called greater simply becuase of what "might have been." That's just tough luck. We have to look at 'what is'.

Robinson saw the Sonny Wilson fight from ringside and commented to his manager that he was "too pretty to fight Burley." That accounts for nothing --but this does:

Robinson was offered $17,000 to fight Burley. Gainford (SRR's manager) accepted. Robinson turned it down saying that Gainford was not authorized to do so. And yet, when responding to fight fans in an open letter about accusations that he was ducking Tommy Bell and Joe Curcio, he said that they need to "meet the demands of his manager, George Gainford." Huh?!

Burley himself claimed that he was approached about getting a 3 fight deal with the Sugar Man, but that would require he take a dive in the first. Burley made no deals like that, so he turned them down. He figured that once the first fight was over and done, there would be no return. Robinson was cunning. Whether or not Robinson acceded to this is unknown. It is loose history and more like rumor.

Right after the Smith fight I posted above was fought ('46), Burley was under the assumption that he had a gentleman's agreement to fight Sugar Ray... but Ray doubled his price from $25k to $50k and added in a % of the gate for himself. It's clear that he was freezing Burley out.

Robinson would do this at times against dangerous guys. But it was really obnoxious with Burley. Meanwhile he'd fight set-ups (not fixes per se, but non-threats) for $7 grand. Burley was asked about it in 1989 and said that "Robinson ducked me." Gainford, he claimed, admitted as much. Burley has credibility as an honest man.

Do I fault Robinson? Yes. It hurts his legacy and it robbed Burley of his chance to become a name -he literally robbed him of a decent payday.
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