SI Vault
Larry L. King
September 06, 1965
The face seemed the same, except for the marks and the blood, and so did the mop of wildly jumbled hair. Even on his great nights, Sugar Ray Robinson's slick pompadour always-stood on end as soon as the fighting began. But this was years away from the great nights. It was the 10th and last round of a bout in Honolulu last month (see cover) with a 31-year-old journeyman named Stan Harrington, who had beaten Robinson once before. Now in the rematch Sugar Ray had won only a round or two. There was little sign of the vicious punching or the brilliant combinations that had made him six times a world champion. His dream of getting one last crack at the middleweight title was dead, and perhaps he knew it—and perhaps he did not. A few weeks before Honolulu, after a dingy win over a nobody, he welcomed photographers to his hotel bedroom and smiled like a reigning champion (below). Ray Robinson is a very hard man to convince.
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September 06, 1965

Sugar: Down But Not Quite Out

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Gainford was saying, "I tol' Ray after the third it was too hot up there to go for a KO. I tol' him box easy."

Somebody questioned Gainford's logic. How was it better to pant through 10 rounds than end it early?

Gainford looked pained. "Aw, man." He walked away.

Promoter Weaver bobbed around, flushed in the face, talking of getting Giardello in the same ring come September. He had made $3,000. No telling what a title fight would do.

Soft-voiced, Robinson chased the dream. "I'd like it here in Washington. Outdoors in that big ball park, maybe. It ain't too cold here in September, is it?"

Gainford was ecstatic over young Herbie Lee, an AAU champion on the card, who had just made his pro debut with a three-knockdown TKO. "He's got good moves. And he's still in high school. The right man handling that boy—shu, he could go all the way! He could be another..."

The newsmen rushed off to meet their deadlines. The last curious fans faded away in the halls. Houselights dimmed over the empty arena. Gainford gathered up Robinson's fight paraphernalia, methodically stuffing a small bag.

From the shower, standing under a sting of spray, Sugar Ray called, "Hey, George! What was that cat's name I fought tonight?"

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