There can be little doubt that the story of working-class Italian-Americans making the big time in boxing is a truly loved and time-tested one; especially with an abundance of such heroes hailing from NY.
From the “Rocky” franchise to “Raging Bull,” popular culture has also played its part in incubating the relationship between American citizens of Italian descent and the noble sport, and how the world embraces that relationship. As such, we have ranked the five greatest American boxers of Italian descent, and how their influence still impacts the sport today.
Even today, a full 86 years after his reign as World Heavyweight Champion ended, the hulking giant that was Carnera has still won more fights by knockout (72) than any other heavyweight champion.
Nobody stood a chance against Carnera in his prime, and only opponents that adopted an in-fighting strategy had much chance of going the distance against him. He was able to keep opponents away through sheer reach, and even today, the importance of reach difference is used also as a metric when it comes to choosing win methods while wagering on boxing events.
Young Corbett III
Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004, Corbett was – and still is – a textbook southpaw. He reeled opponents in, counterpunching at optimal moments to compensate for relatively low punch power.
Fighters of today who take inspiration from Corbett’s style are often focused upon by people who specialize in backing the duration of fights when wagering. Overall, 90 of Corbett’s 124 wins came by way of decision. Any title bouts with present-day boxers that have a similar style, will often be backed by combat sports bettors to last at least ten rounds of the regulation twelve.
In contrast to Corbett, Graziano is synonymous with going all-out to destroy the opposition, and known for scoring KOs via a single punch. The year 1945 was particularly memorable with a perfect return from six fights, all of which came via KO.
In addition to boxing, that ability to knock opponents out has had an impact in all forms of combat sport, including modern-day UFC. Indeed, those that view UFC tips can see how a fighter’s niche statistics can influence their reputation and fight odds, demonstrating the impact made by knockout artists such as Graziano.
The ‘Raging Bull’ himself knew how to deal hits and take them in return. He was a born infighter with the bravery and stamina needed to break down a stern opposition guard, and had no qualms about making his bouts descend into a street fight. Such was his resolve, he was not knocked down until the 103rd fight of his 107-bout pro career, despite his cavalier attitude towards taking punishment.
Few can claim to have punished the great Sugar Ray Robinson with such regularity, even though the series was one-sided against LaMotta. Indeed, his feud with Robinson remains one of the most intensive sagas in the history of boxing. It also serves as a cornerstone inspiration to anyone who values the history between two particular fighters when calling a fight before the bell rings.
It was never going to be anyone else, and Marciano is still the only heavyweight champion to have finished his career undefeated. He had it all – power, stamina, and the coveted iron chin – and his return of 87.76% knockouts across all wins remains one of the highest in heavyweight boxing history.
His legacy has influenced boxing as it is today in a whole myriad of ways – too many to list, in truth. While some people who wager on high-profile bouts may focus on power, greats such as Marciano show that the all-rounder has a power that transcends reliance on a mighty punch or cunning counter.