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Sharkey vs Carnera - Fix or Not?

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Post by Rowley Mon 07 Mar 2016, 8:41 pm

Have touched on my fascination with Primo Carnera in the past, but having just finished a biography of Jack Sharkey it gave me cause to revisit the second fight between the two and the debate and controversy that still rages over the knockout scored by Carnera and whether the win was legitimate or something a little more fishy. As the debate has raged for the last eighty years I would not think for a minute it is likely to be settled here, but would be interested in some opinions, if anyone has any.

As someone who has a bit of a soft spot for Da Preem probably a sensible place to start is with the case for the defence. Firstly most contemporary reports of the fight made little to no reference to a fix or the knockout being anything other than legitimate. Carnera's biographer Joseph Page, who has probably read as many of these reports as most people, says pretty much universally they did not question the legitimacy of the knockdown. The suggestions of a fix gathered steam later through guys like Bert Sugar, who was certainly not at ringside. Also, whilst I am not here to argue Carnera was any better than he was, in as much as he did have a honey punch the uppercut was very much it and it was an uppercut that did for Sharkey. Whilst it could never be argued Carnera was a devastating puncher he was always in decent shape and if a guy of 260lb + does time one right it is perhaps not beyond the realms he could take someone out.

Also to his dying day Sharkey never admitted he had taken a dive, he maintained the fight and the defeat was on the level, even maintaining this stance to his immediate family, who contributed to the biography mentioned. Even Walter Friedman, who managed Carnera and was willing to acknowledge some of Carnera's earlier fights were set ups, said the Sharkey fight was on the level. It should also be mentioned that this was the era of the mob in boxing, at the time seemingly every other fight was to some degree implicated in being a fix to some extent, doesn't necessarily make it so. It should also be noted Sharkey was pretty inconsistent in terms of form throughout his career, he could look sensational in one fight and look a journeyman next time out. Finally it should be mentioned Sharkey was to lose his next two after Primo and his form from the loss to the end of his career was at best patchy, and at worst pretty poor, it is possible he just got old in there, would not be the first time and surely not the last.

Despite all that the case to suggest it could have been a fix is also pretty compelling. Firstly irrespective of his improvements or his size and fitness, Carnera was simply not a one punch knockout guy and whatever his inconsistencies a weak chin was something Sharkey did not suffer from, like the second Ali Liston fight the idea Carnera could turn Jack's lights out in such devastating fashion is one a lot of people find hard to believe. Also the video footage which still exists of the fight, whilst not crystal clear, does not suggest the punch that lands is of sufficient force to render Sharkey almost immediately unconscious, truth be told it looks a bit of a push punch.

Furthermore when it comes to the footage, boxing historian Mike Silver has reasonably argued that Sharkey appears to change his style in the sixth crouching low almost as if he is inviting the uppercut from Carnera, an odd tactical shift against a guy he was beating and had beaten at a canter previously. As I have previously mentioned I genuinely believe the frequency which Carnera's fights were fixed is overstated there is a strong likelihood some of his fights were set up and what is undeniable is he was managed by notorious mob guy Owney Madden, Madden was nicknamed The Killer, if anyone could orchestrate the fixing of a world heavyweight title fight Madden would seem to fit the bill.

I am really not sure where I stand on this personally, part of me, if out of nothing but affection for Carnera, wants to believe the fight is on the level. Whilst it is a shock, it is no more of a shock than Braddock beating Baer, Douglas beating Tyson or others we could mention. However for all that, the manner of the win, a knockout by a guy without a knockout punch and the inconclusive nature of the video footage will always leave me with a little nagging doubt.


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Post by milkyboy Mon 07 Mar 2016, 8:54 pm

I'm proud of you rowley.

I look forward to your ensuing Lennox Lewis article. Or perhaps a Floyd one this time?

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Post by hazharrison Mon 07 Mar 2016, 9:06 pm

Interesting take here:

http://www.boxing.com/primo_carnera_old_satchel_feet.html

The ghost of Ernie Schaaf indeed!

Having Googled the footage I'm on the fence. Sharkey was really pitching in there but the finishing shot looked weak sauce.

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Post by Rowley Mon 07 Mar 2016, 9:06 pm

I have gone old school milky. Am going for about seven response, three of which are you mocking my lack of responses.

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Post by AlexHuckerby Tue 08 Mar 2016, 1:36 am

Paul Gallico, who writes an extremely one sided piece on Primo Carnera (really goes to town on him) thinks the fight was actually not a set up. As for one of the few times with a Carnera fight everybody in the know seems to believe it was on the up and up. I think it was too, he just caught him with a good shot, Carnera was a huge man, and even though people say he pushed his punches etc. I have a feeling if he catches someone with a good shot, they can go. Though Baer and Louis most certainly showed there are levels in this game.

My opinion but I think it wasn't a fix. Which most probably means it was.

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Post by Derbymanc Tue 08 Mar 2016, 9:20 am

I love these articles Rowls, we need more of them

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Post by Rodney Tue 08 Mar 2016, 9:31 am

No fix for me Jeff, you touched on Douglas v Tyson upset in some ways this fight is comparable to me. You have a confident and under prepared champion taking on a challenger who doesn't intend to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. Carnera landed a helluva lot of leather in the latter end of the fight although it ended spectacularly it was more down to a gradual beatdown. As like Tyson/Douglas the fight was Sharkey's to lose and boy did he lose it. I admire him for not hiding behind the excuse/claim he took a dive like Jack Johnson did. Nice article and not enough of these nowadays and old 5 star award.

Cheers, Rodders
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Post by milkyboy Tue 08 Mar 2016, 10:34 am

Rowley wrote:I have gone old school milky. Am going for about seven response, three of which are you mocking my lack of responses.

... you try and help a guy out Whistle

On a slightly less trivial note. Much as when chris did his excellent series, In reality I'm mocking the readers of a boxing board who sadly have no interest in its history... not the writers who've put a bit of time into producing worthy material.

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Post by milkyboy Tue 08 Mar 2016, 10:46 am

Now I've got the numbers up, I can throw in my opinion.

I've never delved into the background of the fight other than to know it was controversial and that there were shady figures involved... hardly unique in that era, excepting it was a world title fight.

My view on the fight is, sharkey was still winging overhand rights up until the end and landing with a few. I guess he could have been pulling them all night but it didn't look like it.

As for the knock out punch. Carnera had landed a few good shots prior to the KO... the punch itself looked fairly innocuous but then, so did big George's against moorer and countless others... if a big man (even one without a punch) lands on the button against someone who's not set to defend it, it's conceivable to me.

So I'm going with legit based on watching the fight. Was there known be money on a carnera KO before the fight?

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Post by spencerclarke Tue 08 Mar 2016, 12:31 pm

I love these history pieces. Well done Jeff.

For the record I'm going for not a fix. I like the story of Primo too much to dismiss him.

Wonder if Tino will turn up for this one. Kind of thing to bring him out of the shadows!

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Post by milkyboy Tue 08 Mar 2016, 12:39 pm

Don't hold your breath spencer... It takes a lot to drag Tina away from the off topic section. Why talk boxing when you could be discussing how many librarians you've fingered?

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Post by Atila Tue 08 Mar 2016, 2:33 pm

hazharrison wrote:Interesting take here:

http://www.boxing.com/primo_carnera_old_satchel_feet.html

The ghost of Ernie Schaaf indeed!

Having Googled the footage I'm on the fence. Sharkey was really pitching in there but the finishing shot looked weak sauce.
Thanks for the link Haz. I just watched the highlights of Baer v Carnera. Interesting to see the pace these guys fought at, which looked just as quick as today considering how we get told how fighters are in so much better shape today than years ago.

As for Sharkey v Carnera, I'm going to accept it as a legit win.

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Post by Rowley Tue 08 Mar 2016, 5:55 pm

Rodney wrote:I admire him for not hiding behind the excuse/claim he took a dive like Jack Johnson did.

This is a good point Rodders, irrespective of what I might try and convince folk to the contrary Carnera is, and always has been, a bit of a figure of fun in the heavyweight division. As such a knockout loss to him carries more than a little embarrassment. Worth remembering Sharkey lived to a ripe old age, long past when Madden and his associates had exited and when the chances of reprisals would have been minimal and yet still he did not to seek the ready excuse available to him. This suggests to me the knockdown may well have been legit.

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Post by ShahenshahG Tue 08 Mar 2016, 6:02 pm

milkyboy wrote:Don't hold your breath spencer... It takes a lot to drag Tina away from the off topic section. Why talk boxing when you could be discussing how many librarians you've fingered?


laughing

Could use you over there, things are a bit quiet at the moment.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Wed 09 Mar 2016, 8:39 am

milkyboy wrote:Don't hold your breath spencer... It takes a lot to drag Tina away from the off topic section. Why talk boxing when you could be discussing how many librarians you've fingered?

It was only one (librarian, not finger.  Can't remember the specifics).  Runcorn library circa 1993.  Great days.

Taking of great days, I remember when this place wasn't overrun by morons, cretins and ONEBALL.

https://www.606v2.com/t27036-primo-carnera - Jeff admitted he misses Waingro!  Who'd have thought it.

Primo Carnera.  Pancaked by a malnourished POW.  Bloody loser.  

Da Preem?  More Da big simpering wreck flat on his back over there.

Or did he?  Nothing in the SA military history records to corroborate the story so who knows.  I certainly can't be arsed to check.  Maybe you can, Milky?  Give you something to do.

Great article, Jeff.  A shining light among the usual steaming pile of turds to be found on 606v2 Boxing these days.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Post by milkyboy Wed 09 Mar 2016, 10:28 am

Mind the windows Tino. wrote:
milkyboy wrote:Don't hold your breath spencer... It takes a lot to drag Tina away from the off topic section. Why talk boxing when you could be discussing how many librarians you've fingered?

It was only one (librarian, not finger.  Can't remember the specifics).  Runcorn library circa 1993.  Great days.


Taking of great days, I remember when this place wasn't overrun by morons, cretins and ONEBALL.

https://www.606v2.com/t27036-primo-carnera - Jeff admitted he misses Waingro!  Who'd have thought it.

Primo Carnera.  Pancaked by a malnourished POW.  Bloody loser.  

Da Preem?  More Da big simpering wreck flat on his back over there.

Or did he?  Nothing in the SA military history records to corroborate the story so who knows.  I certainly can't be arsed to check.  Maybe you can, Milky?  Give you something to do.

Great article, Jeff.  A shining light among the usual steaming pile of turds to be found on 606v2 Boxing these days.

Great day for you, not so great for the librarian. He's still traumatised.

I'm way too busy posting jibberish to check any facts Tina.

Other than those points of clarification, no argument with the rest of your post.

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Post by kingraf Wed 09 Mar 2016, 11:28 am

Mind the windows Tino. wrote:
milkyboy wrote:Don't hold your breath spencer... It takes a lot to drag Tina away from the off topic section. Why talk boxing when you could be discussing how many librarians you've fingered?

It was only one (librarian, not finger.  Can't remember the specifics).  Runcorn library circa 1993.  Great days.

Taking of great days, I remember when this place wasn't overrun by morons, cretins and ONEBALL.

https://www.606v2.com/t27036-primo-carnera - Jeff admitted he misses Waingro!  Who'd have thought it.

Primo Carnera.  Pancaked by a malnourished POW.  Bloody loser.  

Da Preem?  More Da big simpering wreck flat on his back over there.

Or did he?  Nothing in the SA military history records to corroborate the story so who knows.  I certainly can't be arsed to check.  Maybe you can, Milky?  Give you something to do.

Great article, Jeff.  A shining light among the usual steaming pile of turds to be found on 606v2 Boxing these days.

Pros of the Kay Masaki story
-Its funny
- It probably annoys Jeff
- Its a feel good Saffer story

Cons
- No tangible corroborative evidence
- Masaki isn't even a South African surname!
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Post by Guest Wed 09 Mar 2016, 3:35 pm

Haven't looked at the footage yet,but would think that it was a proper win for The Alp.
I wonder if his reputation is to do to the fact that he got knocked over so often- he could withstand a lot of punishment ,and if you think about it he had at least some fortitude to get up so often (no joking intended).If you look at Audley Harrison, here's a guy who didn't get up once tagged, and even he had one peach of a lucky shot against Sprott in their second fight.
I also wonder if ,with Emannuel Steward in his corner, he could have "grafted some skills to his set" and scraped out a lengthy record of dull wins.

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Thu 31 Mar 2016, 11:48 am

Think it is worth noting that Carnera was owned by the mob....At least according to Ring editor Herbert Goldman.....Of course he could be wrong..but it's generally consensus opinion from back then..

Also worth noting that Sharkey won the title very controversially off Schmelling in the title fight before.....Not sure anybody but the judges had Sharkey winning and Schmelling cried foul..

Put it together with a winning uppercut that came from some daisy field in outer Poughkeepsie...and

I reckon it was bent....

But what do I know.. Cool

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