Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ezzard Charles vs Rex Layne I 1951

Ezzard Charles vs Rex Layne I 1951
Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
October 10, 1951
16mm Transfer, 12 minutes

One would be hard pressed to find a more underrated boxing champion than Ezzard Charles.  One of the slickest boxers ever, his reign as Heavyweight Champion 1949-51 was one of the most active, exciting and yet remains in the purgatory of boxing history between the championship years of Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano.  There’s no shortage of footage of Charles online, but much of it is poor quality, or film of his loosing efforts against Marciano and Walcott.  Neither of those fights represents Charles at his best. 

vs Rex Layne I 

Charles had three fights with heavy hitting contender Rex Layne between 1951 and 1953.  Charles lost a decision to Layne in their second fight, and came back to outpoint Layne in their third match, but here in their rarely seen first fight, we get a look at Charles in his relative prime.  Both Charles and Layne had lost their previous fights, Charles to Walcott for the title, and Layne to up and coming Marciano, so their careers were on the line.  Charles fights here with poise and brilliant technique against the strong and relentless Layne.  Charles nearly finishes Layne in the 10th, and the 11th round knockout is classic Charles.  Cool and unhurried, the finish is the work of a deadly craftsman.

The Film 

The fight, which took place at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, was photographed well on film.  Films like this one were customarily made by the venue, news media or the promoter.  In many cases, they are the only surviving footage we have of the non-title fights of the period. The print of this night time fight is clear and the angle provides a good view of the action.

1 comment:

  1. It is likely Ezzard Charles is the most underrated heavyweight of all time. However, the visible evidence suggests he was indeed at his best against Rocky Marciano, who just kept on slugging till his opponent was either too tired to fight back or got floored.