Originally Posted by greynotsoold
Marciano had little or no amateur experience, and he was brought along smartly. Thus the numerous fights with guys with not-so-great records. That is pretty typical of any fighter. Now, the fighters that you mention, that he should have fought...
Dan Bucceroni did several things to knock himself out of title contention. In 1951 he was kod in 5 by LHW Bob Murphy. In 1952 he was decisioned and knocked down 5 times by light punching LaStarza, and LaStarza was beaten twice by Marciano. In 1954, while Marciano was champion, Bucceroni lost3 times.
Tommy Jackson, in 1953, the year Marciano won the title, was fighting 6 round prelim fights. In 1954 he lost to Jimmy Slade and Nino Valdes. No title shot.
Valdes, from Nov 1952 to May 1953 lost 4 straight, one to LHW Harold Johnson, and one to Archie Moore, who subsequently fought Marciano.
Bob Baker was not a credible challenger because in 1953 he was kod in 1 by Bob Satterfield, and in 1954 he was stopped by Archie Moore in 9.
So it would seem that in fighting Moore and LaStarza and Charles, he was fighting the top contenders. At the time he retired Marciano had a very bad back and other aches and pains brought on by his continuous training; he was worn out so he retired. Had a prime and healthy Marciano fought Liston, I think he would have gotten past Liston's long left hand, worked his body and chopped him down with right hands in 12-14 rounds. Marty Marshall stopped liston in 2 by breaking his jaw and he was no Marciano.
I'm not just talking about Rocky fighting as a title holder, Im talking about the span of his career. For example, in 1952 when Rocky was a top contender (and had already beaten Rex layne in 51') he chose to take fights with Gino Buonovino and Bernie Reynolds. Buonovino at that point had lost half the fights he had ever fought, he had beaten no fighter of any significance, and he had lost 3 of the last 6 matches, including the last one where he was Koed in 1 round (and on top of that, Marciano had ALREADY beaten him in 1950 by TKO). He fought this man rather than a Bob Baker, a man who was a ranked fighter with one loss, and wins over Agramonte and Bivins; and there were plenty of other fighters who had FAR more business fighting a top ranked opponent like Rocky than Buonovino did, not the least of which was Clarence Henry who was a top 5 then a top 10 fighter from 1950-1953. Then Marciano fought Bernie Reynolds who while a step up from Gino, was far less deserving of the chance than say a Dan Bucceroni (or Baker, or Henry). His wins and record were much less impressive than theirs, he wasn't ranked, and he had lost, again, three out of his last six fights. He could have also fought them in 51' instead of Willis Applegate who has a career record of 12 and 16 and lost 5 of the 6 fights before he fought before Marciano. Heck, even after beating a ranked fighter like La Starza in 1950, I think he could have gotten better fights than Harold Mitchel (career record 3-16, lost 6 of his last 6 fights before Marciano ) Keene Simmons (career record 9-22, lost 5 of his last 6 fights before Marciano) or Eldridge Eatman 21-22 also lost 5 of his last 6 fights before Marciano).
My original point was this. Marciano's legendary status is largely based not on who he beat but on that 49-0 record. If that is the case, then whether that 49-0 record is made up of the top fighters of that era or not is I think an important question.