Boxing in Microscopic Detail: The Brothers Who Beat Sugar Ray Robinson
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
The ability to master any profession comes from the unique ability to give attention to microscopic details. The great boxing stories come from both the obvious and the rare. On occasion, a microscopic boxing fact largely overlooked by most experts shines through, and tells a story of great value.
Boxing middleweight brothers Denny Moyer and Phil Moyer, from Portland, Oregon, have largely been forgotten in time. Denny Moyer was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame before he passed away in 2010, so his boxing career certainly was one of noteworthy distinction. Phil is still alive in a nursing home. The ring careers of the fighting Moyer brothers is long forgotten in the sands of time, but for one unique fact which remains unsurpassed in boxing history.
Denny, a former World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association World Super Welterweight champion, fought between 1957 and 1975 and had a career record of 98 wins, 28 losses, and seven draws, with 25 knockouts. Talk about being a tough son of a b#t*h……Denny Moyer went the distance in professional bouts 108 times! Fighting between 140 and 164 pounds, the times Denny went the distance have to be some kind of a record within that weight zone for pro bouts which went to the scorecards. Between 1972 and 1975, Denny’s last 25 bouts went to the tenth round! Only one opponent, 19-2 Mike Lankester of Seattle, got knocked out in the tenth round in June 1974 in Portland. The other 24 bouts all went the distance.
In October 1961, and February 1962, Denny fought Sugar Ray Robinson, losing the first bout on bouts, and winning the second bout on points, both ten rounders which were fought at Madison Square Garden. Later, in July 1962, Robinson lost a ten rounder to Denny’s older brother Phil Moyer, who fought between 1957 and 1965 with a career record of 28-9-4 with nine knockouts. Incidentally, Phil’s victory over Robinson was his final career win. Phil was forced to retire from boxing prematurely due to an eye injury.
Sugar Ray Robinson’s issue was his career was at a crossroads. He had gone the fifteen round distance in his last four world title bouts, but was unable to win any of them. Robinson lost his word middleweight title, losing two 15 round split decisions to Paul Pender. Paul Pender’s career was immediately ended because nobody wanted to pay anything to see him as champion, a paper champion nobody of zero public interest. Robinson then drew over 15 rounds, then lost over 15 rounds, to Gene Fullmer. After Robinson stopped Al Hauser, won 10 round decisions twice over Wilf Greaves, then winning a 10 round decision over Denny Moyer, Robinson then lost to the new Moyer brothers.
Records indicate Robinson fought 39 more times after losing to Phil Moyer, winning 27 times, but incurring eight losses, three draws, and one no-contest, before retiring in 1965 at age 44. After losing to the Moyer brothers, Robinson was never the same, losing by 10 round decision to former World Middleweight champion Terry Downes at Wembley in London immediately after losing to Phil Moyer. Robinson lost a 10 rounder to future World Middleweight champion Joey Giardello at Convention Hall in Philadelphia in 1963.
After losing a 10 round decision to Scottish fight Mick Leahy in 1964 (Leahy’s last win), Robinson beat many no name opponents, but lost critical crossroads bouts to Stan Harrington (twice), Ferd Fernandez (twice), Memo Ayon, and Joey Archer in 1965 and was forced to retire because he could not win ‘the big one’ anymore. It can still be said in twilight, Robinson, much like former world heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles, was always a good draw wherever he fought.
The two losses to the Moyer brothers essentially ruined Robinson, who fell from world title fighting status, to world class contender status, to journeyman status. Robinson would not get a shot at Emile Griffith, Nino Benevenuti, Carlos Monzon, Rodrigo Valdes, Bennie Briscoe or Vito Antuofermo. Sugar Ray Robinson finished with a career record of 173-19-6, with 108 knockouts.