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On This Date in Sports February 5, 1943

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After 40 professional fights, Sugar Ray Robinson suffers his first career loss, when he is beaten by Jake LaMotta in a ten round unanimous decision at Detroit’s Olympia Arena. The big blow comes in the eighth round when LaMotta knocks Robinson through the ropes. The two Hall of Fame fighters would face each other six times in total, this is the only fight that Jake LaMotta would win.

There were no fighters who were more active in the ring in the early 40’s than middleweights Jake LaMotta and Sugar Ray Robinson. The two first met in 1942, with Robinson beating LaMotta in Sugar Ray’s first fight in the middleweight division on October 2, 1942. Robinson won the fight with a ten-round unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden.

Just three weeks after Jake LaMotta’s win in Detroit, the two fighters were at it again in the same location, this time it was Robinson winning a unanimous decision. Two years later, the two fought for the fourth time on February 23, 1945, at Madison Square Garden. The fight went the distance, with Sugar Ray Robinson winning another unanimous decision. On September 26, 1945, at the Garden, LaMotta, and Robinson fought for 12 rounds, with Sugar Ray improving to 4-1 in the series with a split decision win.

Jake LaMotta would claim the Middleweight Championship by beating Laurent Dauthuille on September 13, 1950, in Detroit. His first defense came on February 14, 1951, against Sugar Ray Robinson. Robinson dominated the fight at Chicago Stadium and won by TKO in the 13th round. It would be the final time the two legends fought each other, with Sugar Ray, winning five of the six contests.

Jake LaMotta would finish his overall career with a record of 83-19-4, while Sugar Ray Robinson established himself as one of the best fighters pound for pound with a record of 173-19-16.