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Boxing History

Defining Greatness: Giulio Rinaldi and The Last Hoorah of Archie Moore

By Geoff Booth

You’re probably asking yourself who is Giulio Rinaldi? Is he any good? How come he’s never mentioned in any boxing discussions with Archie Moore? I have the answer to all three of those questions. But first, let’s go back to 1960.

Archie had just come off two of his most glorious moments in the ring. First, his 1958 knockdown drag out dog fight with Yvon Durelle which saw Archie come off the canvas 4 times to knock Yvon down in the 7th, and 10th rounds before finally knocking him out in the 11th. The next year they had a rematch, and he destroyed Yvon Durelle in 3 rounds. After that night Archie went back to “tuning up” against fringe Heavyweight contenders. In comes Giulio Rinaldi.

For all intents and purposes Giulio was supposed to be just another victim on Archie’s list of tune ups. Giulio boasting a respectable journeyman like record of 25-5 was big, hittable, not very fast, and didn’t have the greatest of chins. There was no reason that Archie shouldn’t win this fight, aside from 2 very important factors; Archie’s conditioning and where the fight would take place. (in Giulio Rinaldi’s backyard of Rome, Italy.)

The only film of this fight that has made its way to the public’s eye is a Pro Rinaldi highlight package that is in Italian. The film is only a couple minutes long and shows a wild Rinaldi swinging for the fences on a visibly pudgy, but elusive Moore. The final sequence shows the Italian Referee administer a completely unwarranted 8 count, in a situation where Moore was clearly “playing opossum.” After 10 rounds, Giulio Rinaldi was awarded the decision. A points decision where none of the scorecards have yet to be seen, suggested or revealed. Taking all of that into consideration along with the fact that this fight was fought in Italy may bring you to a slightly “pre educated” guess of what we in boxing call “Homecooking.”

At this point I must emphasize “pre educated” because I didn’t have enough proof to say one way or the other what had happened. Archie was known to come into fights out of shape, (most famously against Floyd Patterson in 1956) and even though Moore kept his age a secret, we all knew he was between 43 and 49 at this point in his career. Logically, you can connect the dots and come to a conclusion that an aging, out of shape man was just bested by a bigger, younger fighter. BUT…. thanks to modern technology we now have the option to look through newspaper clippings, SO….. That’s exactly what I did. What I found confirmed my original hypothesis that Moore was likely shafted by hometown politics. The only score that I have seen printed in the fight was from the Associated Press who scored the fight 5-3-2 for Archie. I have not read any article that has indicated to me that Rinaldi did any better than a draw. All the other articles go on to say that Archie appeared to be in control for the first 9 rounds and only lost the last round clearly in part by the standing 8 count. Now Archie, being the man he was never screamed robbery. He simply extended his hand to Rinaldi for a rematch. This time it would be a 15 round affair, in New York, at the Light heavyweight limit of 175 lbs., for what was to be Archie Moore’s last title defense in his already legendary career.

June 10nth 1961, in Madison Square Garden. The stage was set and it was a full on event, complete with boxing greats such as Ray Robinson and Rocky Marciano being honored before your typical prefight introduction. Even before Archie took his robe off you could see from his lean face that he was in shape. The question that was on ringsider’s minds however was simple, “Will we see the Ageless Archie or an Aging one?”

The bell sounded and the first round began. Rinaldi came out quick looking to set the pace and establish his distance behind the jab. It’s no secret that the best way to beat Moore is to keep him from countering with his trade mark right hand. A right hand that can come in the form of a razor sharp shot as well as a looping clubbing blow. As the round goes on you see Rinaldi just being the busier of the two. He’s not landing much but Archie has yet to throw with conviction. The round ends and Giulio takes the lead 1-0.

The second round picks up abit and while Rinaldi is doing most of the leading he’s not landing much at all, and the trained eye begins to see Archie closing the gap and getting underneath the jab while looking to find a home for the right hand. You can also see that even though Archie’s reflexes are diminishing, his brain is in its boxing prime. Using very subtle footwork, he is slowly setting traps for Rinaldi to fall into. The second round ends just as the first did with Rinaldi winning on activity alone. I have him ahead 2-0. In the third, Rinaldi picks up right where he left off by continuing to push a jab in Archie’s direction. By this time you can start to see what I’m seeing and I’m sure what Archie is seeing.

Rinaldi’s jab is beginning to lose its snap and Archie lands his right with authority. Rinaldi still wins the third on activity with his jab, but in that round you saw what was to come. A lot “Moore” right hands. Archie comes out in the fourth like he’s finally ready to fight and Rinaldi is aware of it. He continues to push his jab at Archie mixing in a lazy right and lethargic hook when pressured. Archie sets a trap and Rinaldi eats a big right hand, followed by two left hooks. Rinaldi would remain on the retreat for the remainder of the round and the fight. After Four rounds Archie gets on the board. 3-1 Rinaldi.

The fifth round was All Archie. He walked Rinaldi down, slipped the jab and began to land his right at will. Towards the end of the round Rinaldi begins to attempt using his left hook as a weapon. These left hooks were easily slipped under and countered. By the end of this round it was official; Archie had taken Rinaldi’s jab away. The Sixth round saw Rinaldi’s nose badly bloodied from repeated right hands from Moore. Archie was now dictating the tempo in every way as the bell rang to end the round. After six, it was all tied up 3-3.

The seventh round was probably the slowest of the fight as both fighters visibly took the round off. Rinaldi was probably hoping that the previous round was Archie’s “last hoorah,” while Archie did what he usually did in his over 220 fight career, coast through the middle rounds and by the end of the seventh, Rinaldi was now spitting blood. Both guys came out looking to win the 8th round. In doing so it produced the best exchanges of the night for Rinaldi. Moore on the other hand was content to just walk his man down while slipping most of Rinaldi’s winging blows. Going into the ninth I have it tied up at 4-4. A weakened Rinaldi spent most of the round trying to tie Archie up on the inside. (A tactic remnant of Moore’s fight with Maxim.) Giulio however, was no Joey Maxim, and Archie had little trouble touching the target when his hands were free. The tenth round saw Giulio not throwing for over half of the round. Archie, calmly stalking his foe, caught him with another right hand and jumped on him to close the round. The eleventh saw more of the same for the first half of the round with Rinaldi looking to tie up, while Archie spent the last half outclassing Rinaldi.

With under a minute left, Archie sets a trap for his bloodied and outgunned foe and lands a perfect right that wobbles Rinaldi to clearly close the round. Archie went right back to work in the twelfth and stunned Rinaldi again with a razor sharp right and then landing jabs, more rights, and short hooks with relative ease. (It is in these sequences where a true fan of pugilism smiles because they know what they are viewing is nothing short of violently yet brilliantly beautiful.) Rinaldi holds on to get out of the round. After 12 rounds Archie has a crystal clear 8-4 lead. Unfortunately for Giulio and all of Italy, there were still 3 rounds to go.

The thirteenth was a mirror image of earlier rounds as Archie continued to walk a badly beaten Rinaldi down, and for the first time in the fight, Rinaldi looks confused. Nothing he has attempted has been successful and Archie only continues to paint the ring with Rinaldi’s blood until the bell rings. The fourteenth round was by far the most dominant and one sided. (And yet another example of just how great Moore was.) Rinaldi attempted to fight him off, But the Ol mongoose resembled a God more than a human in countering everything Giulio threw. Rinaldi is wobbled repeatedly by Moore’s right hands and once again holds as the fourteenth round ends. (In modern scoring this could have been scored a 10-8 round.) As they walk to their corners you can see how old the young man looks and how young the old man really is. Rinaldi came out with everything he had in the final round for about the first 30 seconds. Moore once again walked him down for the remainder of the round, clipping Giulio with two more big shots to make his point even clearer as the fight ended. After 15 bloody rounds the decision was as clear as the blood on Rinaldi’s trunks. Archie dominated by official scores of 11-3, 11-4, and 9-5. (11-4 on my card.) To put it all into perspective, At either 44, 47, or 50, and almost 10 years after winning the title, Archie had proven for the 9th and final time that he was still by far and away, the best fighter in the light heavyweight division.

Whatever really happened in their first encounter will remain a mystery until the footage is made public, if ever. But in the rematch, Archie Moore made sure boxing forgot about Giulio Rinaldi just as quickly as he was even thought about. On May 12th 1962 Archie was stripped of what was left of his Light heavyweight championship in order to campaign at heavyweight. To this day his title reign is the longest in Light heavyweight history and it is a title that he never lost in the ring. If that doesn’t define greatness, I don’t know what does.

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