Home Boxing News Ezzard ‘The Cincinnati Cobra’ Charles 93 wins (52 KO) – 25 losses...

Ezzard ‘The Cincinnati Cobra’ Charles 93 wins (52 KO) – 25 losses (7 KO) – 1 Draw

Ezzard ‘The Cincinnati Cobra’ Charles 93 wins (52 KO) – 25 losses (7 KO) – 1 Draw
Date of Birth 7/7/1921
Date of Death 27/5/1975
Stance – Orthodox
Height – 6ft
Divisions – Middleweight – Heavyweight

“Ezzard Charles. Yeah, I’ve heard of him. Wasn’t he that guy who took Rocky Marciano 15 rounds?” You have to wonder how Charles would have been remembered if he would have stayed down in the 8th round when he challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship in 1954. Charles, however, was only briefly stunned by The Rock, and rose at the count of ‘2’ in a fight that saw him push the undefeated Heavyweight Champion to the wire in a classic battle of attrition. Instead of adding to his already great legacy, the first fight with Rocky Marciano would somewhat eclipse all that had gone before. Ezzard Mack Charles, however, was so much greater than ‘That Guy’. Born on a smoking hot July afternoon in the Southern state of Georgia, Charles was already known as a fighter when he graduated from Woodward High School in Cincinnati. He entered the amateur ranks as a Featherweight, where he amassed an unconfirmed record of 42 wins with no defeats. By 1939, Ezzard had won the AAU Middleweight Championship, as well as the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament.

Charles then turned his attention to the paid ranks, assembling a 15 fight winning streak before losing to the great Ken Overlin, a veteran of almost 150 fights. Defeat, however, did not dishearten the Cincinnati Cobra, as he went on to unanimously beat the 106-16-3, and future Hall of Famer, Teddy Yarosz, before a battling 10 round draw against his only conqueror just four months later. Charles, still a Middleweight, would then take part in his career defining fight to date, a pair of back to back fights with the master, and much avoided, Charley Burley. Ezzard, however, outfought Burnley in their fight encounter, shouting him out of the first five rounds, before dropping Burley twice on route to a unanimous points victory. The rematch a month later was more of the same as Charles again outboxed Burnley, again over 10 rounds. Charles followed his career best performances by twice outpointing the great Joey Maxim before being defeated by the equally great Jimmy Bivins.


After a brief stint in the army during the final year of the Second World War, Charles returned to the ring as a Light Heavyweight and embarked on a terrific trilogy of fights with possibly the greatest Light Heavyweight Champion in history, the legendary Archie Moore. Their first meeting, in May 1946, however, was not even close, as Charles repeatedly jabbed his opponent at will, as well as dropping Moore for the count of ‘9’ in the 8th round with a superb counter uppercut to the body. Moore climbed off the canvas only to be continually beaten to the punch, losing a ten round non-title fight decision. The pair’s second battle a year later proved much closer, with Moore fairing much better having seemingly worked out his man, despite being dropped by yet another Charles body shot in the 7th. While Moore was awarded a draw from one of the judges, the other two scored the fight to Charles, giving him a Majority Decision victory. Their third and final encounter in January 1948 was again a close affair until Moore (then 88-13-7) tagged Charles with a pin point left hook which badly wobbled the Cincinnati Cobra. Looking to finish his man, Moore rushed in only to be caught from nowhere by a left hook-right cross combination from Charles which knocked Moore clean out. While Archie Moore is rightly considered by many the greatest Light Heavyweight champion ever to grace the sport of boxing, Charles was certainly the greatest fighter in the division’s long history. A tribute to Archie Moore can be seen here:


Intertwined with the Moore trilogy, Charles embarked on another three fight rivalry, this time battling the impressive Lloyd Marshall between 1943-1947. Marshall, however, had greater success than Moore did; knocking the Cobra out in the pair’s first meeting. While it was said that Charles sustained a hip injury going into their first fight, his bravery proved not enough, as Charles was knocked down seven times in eight painful rounds before the referee stopped the contest. Their second fight in 1946 started just as badly for Charles, with Marshall dropping him for the count of ‘9’ in the very first round. A visibly hurt Charles, however, would regain his composure and box brilliantly for the remainder of the fight before stopping Marshall with a textbox left hook to the body.


The rubber match would last just two rounds, with Charles dropping Marshall three times on route to a KO victory. During this period, Charles also avenged his loss to Jimmy Bivins by beating him twice, as well as knocking out Fritzie Fitzpatrick twice, only to be robbed by the judges against the dangerous banger Elmer Ray, which he would later avenge by 9th round knockout.
Ezzard Charles’ illustrious career almost ended just a month after his stunning knockout of Moore. In February 1948, Charles knocked out a 21 year old contender named Sam Baroudi in the 10th and final round. Tragically, Baroudi suffered a brain haemorrhage after the knockout, and later died in hospital. Seeming contemplating retirement, Charles was urged to carry on by Baroudi’s grieving family. It was now time for Charles to tackle the Heavyweights.
Sam Baroundi laying unconscious after the Charles fight:

After defeating Joey Maxim for the third time, this time via a 15 round majority decision, Charles embarked on a four fight rivalry with the great Jersey Joe Walcott, winning the recently vacated World Heavyweight Title after a comfortable 15 round decision in June 1949.


Between this and his 1951 rematch with Walcott (which he again won by decision), Charles fought the returning Joe Louis, beating the Brown Bomber to a very wide unanimous decision (by 9 rounds on one scorecard and 11 on another).

Charles would then lose his Heavyweight Title after being brutally stopped by Jersey Joe Walcott at the third time of asking. This was followed up by another defeat to Walcott, this time via unanimous decision.


By this time, Ezzard Charles was showing signs of deterioration. His obsession, however, was to reclaim the Heavyweight title, now held by Rocky Marciano who had twice defeated Walcott. By securing a unanimous decision Rex Layne, and having knocked out Coley Wallace, Bernie Reynolds and Bob Satterfield, he secured his shot at The Rock. The Reynolds and Satterfield KOs can be seen here:



On the 17th June 1954, Charles, now 83-10-1, would become ‘That Guy’ by taking the imposing Marciano the full 15 rounds, losing a close but clear decision. A rematch was scheduled for three months later, and Rocky looked to be well on his way to victory after knocking down Charles in the second round. Drama ensued in the third; however, as a right cross from Charles opened a horrific cut over the nose of The Rock and the fight looked like it might be stopped. With greater urgency, Marciano stepped on the gas and knocked Charles out in the 8th round of 1954’s Fight of the Year.


Charles would never regain the heights he once held; losing 13 of his next 23 fights, before calling time on what would be legendary career in late 1959, almost 30 years after his professional debut. While Charles will always been known as ‘That Guy’ who took Rocky the distance, he was so much more than that. A prime Ezzard Charles could outbox master technicians, and out-bang sluggers from Middleweight to Heavyweight. Having beaten future all-time-greats such as Jersey Joe Walcott, Archie Moore, Joe Louis, Jimmy Bivins, Joey Maxim, Joe Baksi, Elmer Ray and Charley Burley, Ezzard has cemented himself into the Top Ten All Time Great lists of most boxing experts and scholars alike. Regarded by many as the greatest Light Heavyweight that ever lived, Ezzard Charles was more than just ‘That Guy’.


Ezzard Charles died on the 28th May 1975 as a result of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was aged just 53.


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