With all the talk today about Floyd Mayweather being a modern day protected fighter, I have come across evidences that there were also protected superstar fighters in the past...even Sugar Ray Robinson.
The late Emanuel Steward told me this information about Robinson, which he learned from Robinson's trainer: "Even Ray Robinson - I talked with George Gainford - he said we always had to keep Ray with guys about 5-foot-8 and we never let him box too much with taller fighters. So even at his best he still had problems with Pender and Joey Archer, even though he was older, but still, tall fighters bothered him. Gainford said Robinson could not handle guys with jabs. I said, Are you kidding? He said, Nope. Look at the fights, even with Lamotta. Lamotta, literally, once in a while he'd come up with a little pick-pick jab and Ray would get all unorganized. He said Ray had problems, just got disoriented with jabs. Even though he was always used to being the taller guy. So if someone jabbed back he got all unorganized."
Evidence number two: From Dave Anderson's book "In This Corner" from the Ray Arcel chapter. "The first time I realized Ezzard Charles was a great boxer was in '42 when he fought Charley Burley in Pittsburgh twice in five weeks. You must understand that Charley Burley was the best fighter who not only never won a title but never got any glory. In those days if you were a good black fighter nobody wanted to fight you. To get fights, Burley fought anyone who would fight him. He didn't care if the other guy weighed l80 pounds...One time I was kidding around with Ray Robinson and I said, 'Charley's one of the best fighters in the world, Ray, why don't you give him a shot?' Ray looked at me and said, 'I thought you was my friend.' That's how great a fighter Ezzard Charles was."
So even the great Sugar Ray Robinson, when examined closely under the microscope of history, not unlike Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr.,, can be considered a "protected fighter."
Boxing isn't just about the mental and physical, it's also about, like Mickey told us in the film "Rocky", having the right management and connections.