The best of all time A to Z: Uzcudun
This is the 21st in a 26-part series in which RingTV.com endeavors to name the best boxers of all time based on last name – A to Z. We’ll post one letter each day for 26 days. Our criteria in making the selections were fairly simple: Accomplishments in the ring, with heavy emphasis on strength of opposition, as well as impact on the sport. This wasn’t easy, as our first installment — the letter “A” (Armstrong vs. Ali) — demonstrates. However, we’re confident that our choices are arguably the best. We also are including five more fighters for each letter to indicate others who were considered. Also, noted author and boxing historian Bert Sugar — who provided input — tells us where he ranks our choices among the greatest fighters pound-for-pound and gives us a thought on each selection. And, finally, we’d love to get your thoughts on the project. Here goes ÔÇª today’s letter: “U.”
U: PAOLINO UZCUDUN
Hometown: Regil, Pa├¡s Vasco, Spain
Record: 50-17-3 (34 knockouts)
Weight class: heavyweight
Sugar’s ranking: None
The thought process: Uzcudun was a competitive wood chopper in the Basque region of Spain, which might explain his physical strength and rugged nature in the ring. He was extremely durable, having never been knocked down until he was stopped by a young Joe Louis in 1935 in his final fight. Uzcudun was a dominating fighter in Europe. He was 23-2-1 (19 KOs) and the European heavyweight champion when he decided to try his luck in the United States, where the best heavyweights in the world plied their trade. He had some success, stopping a 38-year-old Harry Wills, outpointing a still-capable Tom Heeney and later decisioning a young Max Baer, but he lost some key fights (including one to Max Schmeling) and never received a chance to fight for the world championship on this side of the Atlantic. Uzcudun was back in Europe and near the end of his career when he received his only title shot, against giant Primo Carnera in 1933 in Rome. Uzcudun was more talented than the plodding Italian but gave up 7¾ inches (19cm) in height and more than 60 pounds (27kg) and lost a unanimous decision. He would fight only three more times and then retire. Uzcudun was not a great fighter but he was the best Spanish-born heavyweight in history and acquitted himself well against many of the best heavyweights of his time.
Five more (alphabetical order): Franco Udella, Yasutsune Uehara, Juan Urango, Alfredo Urbina and Jose Manuel Urtain.
Sugar quote: On Uzcudun's ill-fated meeting with Louis. “For three rounds the expressionless Louis stalked his prey, hardly bothering to venture a punch. Then, in the fourth, Uzcudun peeked out from his gloves to find out what was going on. He found out. And quick. For the second the sturdy Basque showed even the smallest portion of his face, Louis let fly with a flattening right that lifted him off his feet and halfway through the ropes, driving two of Paolino's teeth right through his lips.”