Trying to make sense of Zale and Cerdan......

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by salsanchezfan, Aug 2, 2020 at 7:44 AM.


  1. salsanchezfan

    salsanchezfan Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    A week or so ago I watched what was available of their bout (which was happily most of the rounds, in good quality no less) and was struck by just how awful Zale looked and how industrious and complete Cerdan appeared. But of course there's context to consider. Zale was fighting his last bout, and was frankly more than a bit worn. Cerdan we're more uncertain about, as his resume is quite a bit thinner than Zale's (an older Abrams and older Holman Williams being the only recognizable names on his ledger) and of course the Lamotta fight was marred by the shoulder injury, followed promptly by his death before we could really ascertain what he really was as a fighter.

    So what do you make of this fight, and which of the combatants do you rate higher?

    Cerdan could not miss with his straight right, thrown out of the shell-like stance of his as he burrowed in. He repeatedly sent Zale backwards and flopping across the ring. Zale couldn't avoid his shots, and rarely got his own counters off, his own powerful hook taken away by the protective stance of Cerdan's, with his arms tucked in against his sides and his gloves aside his face. He tried to switch to uppercuts to get in underneath, but he was just too slow and Cerdan wore him out, showing great poise and awareness as he let Zale unravel gradually.

    I'm wondering though if this was just a case of the champion being too far gone, moreso than Cerdan being THAT fantastic.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. lufcrazy

    lufcrazy requiescat in pace Full Member

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    I watched this recently and I was never once impressed by Cerdan in it.

    It reminds me an awful lot of Alfonso Gomez vs Arturo Gatti. Zale looked beyond shot.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020 at 8:05 AM
  3. salsanchezfan

    salsanchezfan Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Yeah, Zale looked half-dead in there.
     
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  4. klompton2

    klompton2 Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Zale was a dead man walking in this fight. Totally shot. His fights with Graziano, while exciting, should not have been that competitive. Zale is the only top middleweight Graziano ever beat (and he could only do it once in three fights) which tells you all you need to know about Graziano. The excitement of those fights hid the fact that Zale was shot and looking for paydays while avoiding guys who had been waiting for their shot for years. A prime Zale crushes Graziano with ease and at the very least would have made for a much more competitive fight with Cerdan. My guess is he beats Cerdan as well.
     
  5. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft Pimp C's Full-Time Tutor blocked Full Member

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    Yeah, I didn't think too much of Zale in this, or the Graziano rubber match. Crucial body puncher, and tough as they come, but he just doesn't look good fundamentally, IMO. He looks wide, sloppy and slow (although he's obviously past his prime, and had probably slowed down).

    Cerdan doesn't jump off the screen as an ATG IMO, but he does look very good.
     
  6. mcvey

    mcvey Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    I rate Zale above Cerdan .Tony wasn't the same guy when he came back from the war, after 6 tune ups he bypassed higher ranked Jake and Burley to take on Cerdan .Prime for prime he beats Marcel,imo.
     
  7. Bujia

    Bujia Member Full Member

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    Zale went 16-2 with all wins coming by knockout after he got back from the war. Hell, that might’ve been the most impressive stretch of his consistently inconsistent career.

    The only thing that distinguishes his name from the other top Middleweights of the era like Hostak, Apostoli, Risko, Krieger, Yarosz, etc. was his Gatti/Ward situation with Rocky. They were simply fan favorites. Media darlings.

    Nothing about their ability or resume gives them an edge over any of the others I mentioned. Cerdan is even weaker on paper, but I’ll take him at least 8/10 over Zale in the ring.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020 at 10:19 AM
  8. Jason Thomas

    Jason Thomas Active Member Full Member

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    I think it important in understanding why the fights came off which came off to look at the NBA ratings, the official rating organization.

    1946 Middleweight ratings:

    April 9, 1946
    Champion--Tony Zale
    1----Rocky Graziano
    2----Georgie Abrams
    3----Jake LaMotta

    July 9, 1946
    Champion--Tony Zale
    1----Rocky Graziano
    2----Charley Burley
    3----Jake LaMotta

    Sept 11, 1946
    Champion--Tony Zale
    1----Jake LaMotta
    2----Rocky Graziano
    3----Charley Burley

    So Graziano is actually the top rated contender in the spring and summer of 1946. He fights Zale at Yankee Stadium on September 27, 1946. LaMotta is rated 3rd in July, but in August outpoints Holman Williams. The NBA then in its September ratings jumps LaMotta over Graziano, but probably the fight with Zale had already been signed. I assume these arrangements had to be done in advance to obtain use of Yankee Stadium.

    So was LaMotta screwed? Not really by Zale at this point, as Zale was most likely signing to fight his #1 contender. I can't see criticizing Zale.

    Burley? He was never rated ahead of Graziano.
     
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  9. Jason Thomas

    Jason Thomas Active Member Full Member

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    on to the 1947 NBA ratings:

    January 13, 1947
    Champion--Tony Zale
    1----Jake LaMotta
    2----Marcel Cerdan
    3----Charley Burley

    April 10, 1947
    Champion--Tony Zale
    1----Jake LaMotta
    2----Marcel Cerdan
    3----Rocky Graziano

    July 11, 1947
    Champion--Tony Zale
    1----Jake LaMotta
    2----Marcel Cerdan
    3----Rocky Graziano

    Sept 11, 1947
    Champion--Rocky Graziano
    1----Marcel Cerdan
    2----Tony Zale
    3----Jake LaMotta

    December 30, 1947
    Champion--Rocky Graziano
    1----Marcel Cerdan
    2----Tony Zale
    3----Tommy Yarosz

    The 2nd Zale-Graziano fight comes at a time when LaMotta and Cerdan are rated ahead of Graziano. The public certainly wanted to see this return, but here one can make the case that LaMotta should have gotten the shot instead of Graziano, and score Zale on that basis.

    On September 3, LaMotta was upset by Cecil Hudson, which cost him his #1 rating versus Cerdan, who is now the #1 rated contender going into 1948. LaMotta also loses to Billy Fox in a fight he threw later in the year.

    The main point to take out of this year is that LaMotta has fallen in the rankings, and Burley is no longer a top contender, with Cerdan the #1 contender.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020 at 11:00 AM
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  10. Jason Thomas

    Jason Thomas Active Member Full Member

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    1948 NBA middleweight rankings:

    March 26, 1948
    Champion--Rocky Graziano
    1----Marcel Cerdan
    2----Tony Zale
    3----Steve Belloise

    July 9, 1948
    Champion--Tony Zale
    1----Marcel Cerdan
    2----Bert Lytell
    3----Rocky Graziano

    September 16, 1948
    Champion--Tony Zale
    1----Marcel Cerdan
    2----Bert Lytell
    3----Rocky Graziano

    December 21, 1948
    Champion--Marcel Cerdan
    1----Tony Zale
    2----Bert Lytell
    3----Jake LaMotta

    So if anyone got screwed with Graziano defending his title against Zale in a rubber match, it was Cerdan.

    Cerdan was the #1 contender when he fought Zale, so I can't see criticizing Zale for defending against him. LaMotta gets back into the top three with a solid year with five wins.
     
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  11. Jason Thomas

    Jason Thomas Active Member Full Member

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    1949 NBA middleweight rankings:

    April 5, 1949
    Champion--Marcel Cerdan
    1----Tony Zale
    2----Steve Belloise
    3----Bert Lytell
    4----Cyrille Delannoit
    5----Laurent Dauthuille
    6----Rocky Graziano
    7----Jake LaMotta

    July 10, 1949
    Champion--Jake LaMotta
    1----Steve Belloise
    2----Marcel Cerdan
    3----Laurent Dauthuille

    October 10, 1949
    Champion--Jake LaMotta
    1----Marcel Cerdan
    2----Laurent Dauthuille
    3----Dave Sands

    LaMotta lost to Dauthuille in February, and edged a very disputed decision over Robert Villemain in March. He was only ranked #7 when he got his shot at Cerdan. The fact of the matter is that the guy who jumped the rankings the most to get a title shot is LaMotta, not Graziano or Cerdan, nor Graziano or Zale in rematches. Certainly LaMotta had been a high ranking contender for years, but he admitted that he played ball with the Mob to get a shot, so make of this what one will.

    As for Cerdan, he was 33 in 1949 while LaMotta was 27. It is very difficult to get a handle on just how good Cerdan was, or could have been, because of WW2.
     
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  12. Jason Thomas

    Jason Thomas Active Member Full Member

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    1950 NBA middleweight rankings:

    January 5, 1950
    Champion--Jake LaMotta
    1----Dave Sands
    2----Tiberio Mitri
    3----Robert Villemain

    April 26, 1950
    Champion--Jake LaMotta
    1----Dave Sands
    2----Tiberio Mitri
    3----Steve Belloise

    July 5, 1950
    Champion--Jake LaMotta
    1----Sugar Ray Robinson
    2----Tiberio Mitri
    3----Dave Sands

    September 12, 1950
    Champion--Jake LaMotta
    1----Sugar Ray Robinson
    2----Laurent Dauthuille
    3----Dave Sands

    December 27, 1950
    Champion--Jake LaMotta
    1----Sugar Ray Robinson
    2----Dave Sands
    3----Robert Villemain

    LaMotta was a fine champion who defended against highly rated contenders, Mitri, Dauthuille, and Robinson. Somehow Sands didn't get a shot against either LaMotta or Robinson, but it was Robinson who probably should have defended against him.
     
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  13. William Walker

    William Walker Well-Known Member Full Member

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    I've always loved this fight although it was mostly one-sided. Cerdan was strong and tough, but Zale was shot and would succumb to any decent middleweight at that point. Had they fought earlier, I have no doubt that Zale would have been too much for the simple Cerdan. That would have been a fantastic fight as well. Zale is definitely way greater than Cerdan though. He was a three-time middleweight champion, beating Al Hostak, Fred Apostoli, Georgie Abrams, and Rocky Graziano. Cerdan has a much more modest record as said with wins over Abrams and Williams and of course Zale. Cerdan did not even make one successful title defense. Although Cerdan died arguably before his prime was up, Zale was a much greater fighter.
     
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  14. Richard M Murrieta

    Richard M Murrieta Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Too bad that Marcel Cerdan got killed in that very tragic plane crash, it makes one wonder what may have happened in a rematch.
     
  15. he grant

    he grant Historian/Film Maker Full Member

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    Totally agree .. Zale was a big puncher and a true warrior but in my opinion over rated .. let's face it , he was actually KO'ed by Graziano who in my opinion is absurdly over rated .. Cerdan looked far better because he likely was but even he is a bit of an unknown to me .. Zale and Graziano in their trilogy to me may have been the Gatti - Ward of their day .. super exciting , pretty evenly matched fighters who were not the best of their day but getting the most exposure due to circumstances ..
     


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