Sugar Ray Robinson garners praise as the greatest boxer in history, pound-for-pound, and was a light heavyweight championship crown away from strengthening his case all the more.
On June 25, 1952, Robinson fought Joey Maxim, the reigning champion making his second title defense.
Robinson was not far removed from a blistering 91-fight winning streak that spanned from 1943 to 1951. His domination of the welterweight and middleweight divisions took the boxing world by storm and he was on pace to achieve a rarity in ascending from lightweight to light-heavyweight glory.
Maxim captured the NBA, NYSAC, and The Ring light heavyweight titles in 1950 against Freddie Mills and had tasted victory over Jersey Joe Walcott earlier in his career, though his most prominent fights at heavyweight against the likes of Ezzard Charles and Walcott in rematches all ended in defeat.
It was 103 degrees the day of the fight – which took place at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York.
Such intense heat caused the fight to be stopped ahead of round 14, as Robinson could no longer continue. The draw of the occasion wilted under the sun, but several others in attendance were also overcome by the sweltering heat, including referee Ruby Goldstein, who was replaced in round 10 by Ray Miller.
At the time of the stoppage, Robinson led 7-3-3, 9-3-1, and 10-3 on the score cards.
Robinson’s loss marked the only time he would contend for the light heavyweight championship. Following his defeat which gave him a 132-3-2 record, he would finish his career at 174-19-6, going 42-16-4 leading up to his retirement.
Robinson was Maxim’s highest profile victory. He would lose his titles in his next fight against legend Archie Moore, and though he would never reign as champion again, he was able to score another career defining win over Hall of Famer Floyd Patterson in 1954.