He would go on to fight 46 more times. But championship bouts at Boston Garden and Yankee Stadium became fights at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass., and the Community Arena in Steubenville, Ohio. And guys named Rudolph Bent and Memo Ayon replaced opponents like Jake LaMotta and Rocky Graziano.
At the end, Robinson was losing as many fights as he was winning. The final fight was a unanimous loss at age 44 to Joey Archer in Pittsburgh. Worst of all for the all-conquering Robinson, the reaction of most fans was pity. “The crowd gave the faded Sugar man an ovation for a gallant effort,” The Associated Press reported.
Tyson and Jones
Tyson’s own final bouts, 15 years ago, after a turbulent career that included reviving it after a rape conviction and biting the ear of an opponent, were hardly nights of glory.
After getting knocked out at age 35 by Lennox Lewis in a final bid for a title in 2002, Tyson went back into the ring three more times. He beat Clifford Etienne before being knocked out by Danny Williams and quitting in the middle of a fight against Kevin McBride. “If this does not convince the public that Tyson is washed up, perhaps nothing will,” The Times wrote under the headline “Tyson Quits Fight and May Quit Boxing Next.”
Tyson did quit, until this week’s announcement of his unlikely comeback.
For Jones’s part, years after he last fought for a major title, he kept plugging away as the champion of two little-known sanctioning bodies, the World Boxing Union, or W.B.U., and the World Boxing Federation, or W.B.F., fighting against no-names as recently as 2018.
A handful of the greats seemed to walk away at the right time. Joe Louis, for example, posted a record of 66-2, then lost to the younger Rocky Marciano, and wisely left the ring for good.
And not every comeback story is a disaster. Floyd Mayweather made the smart decision in 2017 to fight someone with little boxing experience, the U.F.C. star Conor McGregor. The fight may have been a gimmick, but Mayweather got the victory to remain undefeated, and everyone made a boatload of money.