Decade Rankings: 1950-1959

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(1)  Rocky Marciano  5’10”, 184- Marciano dominated the first half of the decade. Big wins were against Ezzard Charles twice, Jersey Joe Walcott twice, Rex Layne, Lee Savold, Roland LaStarza twice and Archie Moore. Moore and Walcott both had Marciano down early in their fights. (24-0) *587
(2) Jersey Joe Walcott  6’0”, 194- From 1946 to 1952 Jersey Joe was one of the top contenders for the title. How much he have left by 1950 is the question. He had defeated Ezzard Charles twice and Harold Johnson during the decade. His best years had definitely been in the 40s. He lost to Rocky Marciano twice, Rex Layne and Ezzard Charles. Like Charles, Walcott is rated this high because of the series of fights against one another. (6-4) *408
(3) Ezzard Charles  6’0”, 184- From 1944 to 1951 Charles lost one fight and that was to Elmer Ray in a very controversial decision in which Ring Magazine felt Charles was the victor. By  1951 and 52 Charles skills were on the decline. He was still able to defeat Nick Barone, Joe Louis and Jersey Joe Walcott. He lost to Walcott twice, Rex Layne, Nino Valdes, Harold Johnson and Rocky Marciano twice. By 1955 he was no more than a trial horse for young fighters losing more than he won. By 1950 his skills were definitely on the decline even though he entered the decade as champion. (30-20) *667
(4) Ingermar Johansson  6’1”,195 –Johansson was mainly a European heavyweight until 1958 when he knocked out one of the top heavyweight contenders, Eddie Machen in the 1st round. He followed that with his destruction of the Champion, Floyd Patterson. Others he defeated were Henry Cooper, Archie McBride and Joe Erskine. Not a real star studded group of fighters. Do you place him ahead of Patterson and Machen during the decade? No question he knocked both of them out. (22-0) *190
(5) Floyd Patterson  6’0 ”, 184 –Patterson came out of the Olympics in 1952 and grew into a top heavyweight contender. He defeated Jimmy Slade, Archie Moore, Hurricane Jackson and Roy Harris. His only losses of the decade were against Joey Maxim and Ingermar Johansson. Patterson seemed to avoid all the top contenders during his title run. (35-2) *441
(6) Archie Moore 5’11”, 188- Archie Moore fought them all, he avoided no one. He beat Harold Johnson three times, Joey Maxim three times and Nino Valdes twice. From 1949 to 1955 Moore lost one fight and that was to Harold Johnson who he defeated three times during that period. Other heavyweights he defeated were Willie Besmanoff and Bert Whitehurst. Moore’s losses during the decade were to Marciano and Floyd Patterson and the before mentioned Harold Johnson. His record speaks for itself as being incredible. A lot of his fights were in the Light heavyweight division. (67-3-2) *323
(7) Eddie Machen  6’0”, 191-Machen took the division by storm in the mid to late 1950s. Several experts felt he would dominate the division. But that all ended with his 1st round lost to Johansson in 1958. None the less, the body of his work is very impressive. He defeated Nino Valdez twice, John Holman, Johnny Summerlin, Joey Maxim twice, Bob Baker, Hurrican Jackson, Willie Besmanoff and Pat McMurtry. He fought a draw with another outstanding fighter of the decade, Zory Folley. That is a pretty impressive list of victims although all of them were not in their prime when Machen defeated them it is still a tough list of contenders.  (31-1-1) *311.5
(8) Nino Valdez -6’3”, 211- Starting in 1953 with his win over Ezzard Charles, Valdez became a top contender and went on to defeat Heinz Neuhaus, Archie McBride, Hurricane Jackson, Don Cockrell, Dick Richardson, John Holman, Wayne Bethea , Mike DeJohn, Johnny Summerlin, Harold Carter, Pat McMurtry and Brian London. Only problem was with all the victories also came a lot of defeats. Harold Johnson, Archie Moore, Bob Baker, Bob Satterfield, Eddie Machen, Zory Folley, Alex Miteff, Charley Powell, Alonzo Johnson and Sonny Liston. Very hard to get a real feel for how tough a fighter Valdez really was.  (34-14) *394
(9) Zory Folley  6’1”, 194- Folley was another fighter like Machen who was very active during the decade. He defeated Nino Valdez, Wayne Bethea, Alex Miteff and Willie Besmanoff. His draw was against Eddie Machen. His losses were to Young Jack Johnson in his third pro fight and he also lost to Henry Cooper. (30-2-1) *268.5
(10) Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson  6’4”, 193-  One of the top heavyweights of the mid 1950s, he defeated some solid fighters, Archie McBride, Rex Layne, Clarence Henry, Dan Bucceroni, Charley Norkus, Jimmy Slade, Ezzard Charles and Bob Baker. His real chance at the title came in his elimination fight against Floyd Patterson which he lost a split decision. In the rematch, Patterson won by knockout. His losses included Bert Whitehurst, Jimmy Slade twice, Nino Valdez and Eddie Machen. Although he did not have an outstanding career he was clearly one best during the middle years of the decade. (34-9) *323
(11) Harold Johnson 5’10”, 181- Johnson was a light heavyweight all of his career but was one of the best fighters in the world during the 1950s. Had he campaigned only as a heavyweight he would have been rated much higher. He defeated Archie Moore, Ezzard Charles, Nino Valdes, Bob Satterfield(2), Clarence Henry, Marty Marshall, Wayne Bethea and Jimmy Slade during his career. Pretty much says it all. He did have seven losses but three were to Archie Moore, Walcott and Bob Satterfield who he beat twice. The other two fights he lost it looks like he may thrown those fights. (32-7) *LH
(12) Bob Baker 6’2”, 217-Baker exploded onto the heavyweight seen winning his first 25 fights. In the early 1950s he was one of the best young fighters in the division. He defeated Omelio Agramonte twice and Jimmy Bivins before he had his first setback which was a draw to Kid Riviera. Other big wins during his career were Billy Gilliam, Cesar Brion, Nino Valdez, Joe Baksi, Coley Wallace, Jimmy Slade, Rex Layne, John Holman, Dick Richardson and George Chuvalo. He, like Valdez had his share of losses also, losing to Clarence Henry,  Billy Gilliam, Bob Satterfield, Clarence Henry, Archie Moore, Hurricane Jackson, Harold Carter, Willie Besmanoff, Roy Harris, Eddie Machen, Mike DeJohn and Dick Richardson. Baker is another fighter who is very difficult to judge because of the number of losses during his career. (40-16) *349
(13) Sonny Liston  6’1”, 212- Liston came on late in the decade so he never had any contact with the top fighters earlier in the decade. Big names that Liston took down during the decade were Johnny Summerlin twice, Wayne Bethea, Mike DeJohn, Cleveland Williams and Nino Valdez. Ranking Liston will be very difficult because his best fights were in the early 60s.(26-1) *72
(14) Roland LaStarza  6’0”, 184- LaStarza will always be known for giving Marciano his closest fight losing a split decision in 1950. He split with Dan Bucceroni and Fred Jones while beating Rex Layne. His loses were numerous; Rocky Marciano, Charley Norkus, Dan Cockell, Julio Mederos and Larry Zernitz. His only real claim to fame was his fight with Marciano. (20-9) *298
(15) Clarence Henry- 6’1”, 187- Clarence Henry had a very impressive record against the top fighters of the decade. His victims included John Holman, Turkey Thompson, Bob Dunlap, Omelio Agramonte(2), Jimmy Bivins, Bob Baker(2) and Bob Satterfield. All of his losses occurred during the end of his career against Harold Johnson, Archie Moore, Jimmy Slade and Tommy Jackson.(23-5) *155
(16) Willie Pastrano- 6’0”, 185- Pastrano went on the win the light heavyweight title in the 1960s and had more success than he did in the heavyweight division. He defeated Rex Layne, Pat McMurtry, John Holman and Brian London. He lost to Roy Harris, Brian London, Joe Erskine and Alonzo Johnson.  (49-8-5)*279
 (17) Rex Layne  6’1”, 195- In 1950 Layne defeated Jersey Joe Walcott to thrust himself in the middle of the heavyweight division. After the Walcott fight he beat Cesar Brion and Bob Satterfield and followed up with back to back losses to Rocky Marciano and Ezzard Charles. Not bad company to be keeping. From that point on his career was really up and down losing to the likes of Willie James, Kid Matthews, Roland LaStarza, Ezzard Charles, Earl Walls, Hurricane Jackson twice, and Bob Baker three times. Layne did have a victory of Charles in 1952.  (35-17-3) *142
(18) Don Cockell- 5’11”, 205- Cockell is remembered mostly for his fight against Marciano for the title in which he was knocked out in the ninth round. One of the top fighters to come out of Great Britain during the decade Cockell defeated Freddie Beshore, Nick Barone, Roland LaStarza and Harry Matthews(2). He lost to Jimmy Slade, Randy Turpin, Marciano and Nino Valdez. (22-7) *190
Earl Walls *126
(19) Roy Harris- 6’0”, 194- The Big Texan ran up an impressive record before fighting for the title against Floyd Patterson and losing. It was his only loss of the decade. He defeated Bob Baker, Willie Pastrano and Willi Besmanoff on his way up the rankings.(28-1)*121
Heinz Neuhaus *114
(20) Harold Carter – 6’0”, 194- Carter had a real up and down career during the decade. He fought Wayne Bethea three times coming away with a win a loss and a draw. He faced Bob Satterfield three times winning twice and ending in a draw once. He split with Johnny Summerlin, defeated Bob Baker and Willi Besmanoff. He loss to Nino Valdes and Alex Miteff. (26-4-2)*74

{average weight 194 of the top heavyweights of the 1950s}
*Fighters Ring Rankings Totals for the Decade
(Ring Record for the Decade)


Top Heavyweights During the 1950s

1950     E.Charles        

Walcott   Savold   Lee Oma     Woodcock
1951     E.Charles Joe Louis       Walcott  Savold    C.Henry
1952     Walcott   Marciano   E.Charles  LaStarza C.Henry
1953     Marciano   E.Charles LaStarza Walcott Bucceroni
1954     Marciano Nino Valdes E.Charles Cockell  LaStarza
1955     Marciano Bob Baker  Nino Valdes Cockell  E.Charles
1956     A. Moore T.Jackson Bob Baker Marciano   John Holman
1957     Patterson  T.Jackson Machen  Pastrano  A.Moore
1958     Patterson Machen Folley Pastrano Roy Harris
1959     Patterson Johansson Folley   H.Cooper Machen

 

History of the Heavyweight Division 1950-59
Top Three Heavyweights

1950-Champion, Ezzard Charles       
(3-0)
#1 Joe Louis  
                                      
#2 Lee Savold                                    

def. Joe Louis 15-D

loss Ezzard Charles 15-D
def. Cesar Brion 10-D 
def. Bruce Woodcock 4-KO

1951-Champion, Jersey Joe Walcott 
 
#1 Ezzard Charles                             
(6-1)                                      




#2 Rocky Marciano                           
(6-0)                                      

loss Ezzard Charles 15-D
def. Ezzard Charles 7-KO 
def. Lee Oma 10-KO
def. Jersey Joe Walcott 15-D
def. Joey Maxim 15-D
loss Jersey Joe Walcott 7-KO
def. Rex Layne 11-KO
def. Joey Maxim 12-D
def. Rex Layne 6-KO
def. Joe Louis 8-KO

1952-Champion, Rocky Marciano                         
(5-0) 
#1 Jersey Joe Walcott 
                      
#2 Rex Layne                                      
(6-2)                                      

def. Lee Savold 6-KO
def. Jersey Joe Walcott 13-KO
def. Ezzard Charles 15-D
loss Rocky Marciano 13-KO
loss Kid Matthews 10-D
loss Willie James 10-D
def. Ezzard Charles 10-D

1953-Champion, Rocky Marciano                         
#1 Nino Valdes                                   
(5-3) 




                                    
#2 Ezzard Charles                             
(6-2)                                      

def. Jersey Joe Walcott 1-KO
def. Roland LaStarza 11-KO
loss Archie Moore 10-D
loss Billy Gilliam 10-D Split
loss Bob Baker 10-D
def. Omelio Agramonte 10-KO
def. Ezzard Charles 10-D
def. Heinz Neuhaus 4-KO
def. Rex Layne 10-D
def. Billy Gilliam 10-D
loss Nino Valdes 10-D
loss Harold Johnson 10-D Split

1954-Champion, Rocky Marciano
                         
#1 Nino Valdes                                   
(5-0)
#2 Don Cockell                                   
(4-0)                                      

def. Ezzard Charles 15-D
def. Ezzard Charles 8-KO
def. Hurricane Jackson 2-KO

def. Roland LaStarza 10-D
def. Kid Matthews 10-D
def. Kid Matthews 7-KO
1955-Champion, Rocky Marciano
       
              
#1 Archie Moore                                
(2-1)                                      
#2 Bob Baker                                     
(7-0)                                      
def. Don Cockell 9-KO
def. Archie Moore 9-KO
def. Nino Valdes 15-D
loss Rocky Marciano 9-KO
def. Rex Layne 10-D
def. Rex Layne 10-D
def. Rex Layne 10-D
def. Nino Valdes 10-D

1956-Champion, Floyd Patterson                          
(4-0)    
                                  
#1 Hurricane Jackson                       
(3-1)     
                                 
#2 Archie Moore                                
(11-1)

def. Hurricane Jackson 12-D Split
def. Archie Moore 5-KO
def. Bob Baker 10-D
loss Floyd Patterson 12-D Split
def. Bob Baker 12-D Split
loss Floyd Patterson 5-KO
1957-Champion, Floyd Patterson                     
(2-0)
#1 Eddie Machen                              
(5-0)  

                                    
#2 Zory Folley       
(11-0)   
def. Hurricane Jackson 10-KO

def. Joey Maxim 10-D
def. Joey Maxim 10-D
def. Bob Baker 10-D
def. Hurricane Jackson 10-D
def. Wayne Bethea 10-D Split 
1958-Champion, Floyd Patterson                          
#1 Ingemar Johansson     

                
#2 Nino Valdes                                   
(6-1)                                     
def. Roy Harris 13-KO
def. Joe Erskine 13-KO
def. Heinez Neuhaus 4-KO
def. Eddie Machen 1-KO
loss Alex Miteff 10-D Split| 
def. Wayne Bethea 10-D Split
def. Johnny Summerlin 5-KO
def. Mike DeJohn 10-D Split
1959-Champion, Ingemar Johansson  
#1 Zory Folley                                     
(7-0)                                                      
#2 Floyd Patterson                                                  
def. Floyd Patterson 3-KO
def. Alex Miteff 10-D
def. Willie Besmanoff 10-D
loss Ingemar Johansson 3-KO   


 


 

Liston Ali

jeffries book

Jim Carney Looks
at Boxing Greats

Fred Fulton

Joe Frazier

Ernie Terrell

Senya13 and the Annals of Boxing History

Boxing Illustrated April of 1964
Harry Wills article and The Year in Review

 

 

 

   
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