Boxing legend Basilio passes away

Boxing legend Basilio passes away
By Eurosport

08/11/2012 at 02:42Updated 08/11/2012 at 03:17

Former two-weight world champion Carmen Basilio, who contested two Fights of the Year with Sugar Ray Robinson in 1957 and 1958, has died aged 85.

Born Carmine Basilio on April 2 1927 in Canastota, New York, 'The Upstate Onion Farmer' passed away at approximately 3:00am on Wednesday morning at Rochester Memorial Hospital.

The popular pugilist began his professional career with a third-round knockout of Jimmy Evans on November 24, 1948 in Binghamton before stopping Bruce Walters five days later inside the opening round.

His defining moment would come on September 23, 1957 when he dethroned Robinson, regarded by many as the greatest boxer of all time, at Yankee Stadium to rise to the pinnacle of a second weight class in becoming world middleweight champion.

The fight was voted by The Ring magazine as the best fight of the year, marking the third successive year Basilio had earned the plaudit following the DeMarco fight in 1955 and regaining the welterweight belt from Johnny Saxton in 1956.

He would win a fourth fight of the year award in losing the belt to Robinson in their March 25, 1958 rematch in Chicago, eventually retiring after an unsuccessful attempt to become a two-time middleweight kingpin, losing a unanimous decision to then-champion Paul Pender at the Boston Garden for a final career record of 79 fights, 56 wins, 27 knockouts and 16 defeats.

Following his retirement, Basilio played a major role in his native Canastota becoming the location of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, being inducted in the inaugural class of 1990 and participating in the annual ceremony every year since.

The Hall of Fame has announced that they will fly a flag at half-staff in honour of Basilio.

"Carmen put Canastota on the worldwide boxing map and gave the village's residents a sense of pride that couldn't be matched anywhere in the world", IBHOF executive director Edward Brophy said.

"During the 1950s and 1960s, Carmen was everyone's hero."