Red Burman (tied for 191)
March 18, 1915 – January 25, 1996
5’11” / 148-199 1/2 lbs
78-22-3-0(33) from 04/28/1930 to 10/26/1942 (12y6m)
1-6-0-0(0) against the top ten
0-1-0-0(0) against linear champions
0-3-0-0(0) against hall-of-famers
0-1-0-0(0) for the linear championship
Top ten opponents: W-UD-12, L-UD-12 Tommy Farr, L-UD-10 Alberto Santiago Lovell, W-KO-5 Joe Louis, L-UD-10 Melio Bettina, L-TKO-9 Tami Mauriello, L-TKO-5 Big Boy Brown
-3 total score (1 + -5 + 0 + 1)
Clarence “Red” Burman was a protégé of the great Jack Dempsey, though nowhere near as successful or athletic. He started out as a small middleweight, frequently being introduced as “Kayo Burns.” This nickname was particularly ironic, as he went 12-8(2) in his first 20 fights, and by the time he took on his first heavyweight opponent, Billy Ketchel, he was 29-11(7). Not a scintillating puncher. However, as he grew, and his skills improved, he started doing better against better opponents. He split a pair of fights with the solid Steve Dudas in late 1935 and 1936, then knocked out fringe contender Corn Griffin in 1 round. The Griffin KO was the first of 13 straight wins over an 8 month period, including a 5th round knockout of future contender Buddy Knox, and 4 more 10 round decisions of Billy Ketchel.
This led into a fight with light heavyweight great (and champion just a month later) John Henry Lewis. The class difference was apparent from the get go, as Burman was dropped 4 times in the first round, the final knockdown occurring at the bell, which led to quite a bit of confusion and a ten minute recovery period for Burman. Nevertheless, it didn’t help much, as Burman was dropped twice more in the belated second round, and the fight was mercifully stopped.
Burman rebounded nicely, earning his old nickname with a record of 7-1(5) over his next eight fights. The most notable of those was a decision over Gus Dorazio, handing the future contender his first loss. He eventually ran into his first heavyweight top ten contender, Alberto Santiago Lovell, losing a 10 round decision. This loss led to another good run, going 11-0-1(5), culminating in his only win over a top ten contender, a decision over Tommy Farr. Red lost the rematch 3 months later.
As always, he followed a loss with a long win streak, beating 9 opponents, including Tony Musto, which brought Red a title shot against Joe Louis in January 1931. Red didn’t embarrass himself, but was soundly defeated, being counted out in 5 by a body punch.
From then on Red took on more top ten opponents, though with less than fortunate results. He beat Al Hart, Buddy Walker, and Johnny Shkor, while losing to Melio Bettina, Booker Beckwith, and Joey Maxim. Finally, in late 1942, the usually durable Burman was stopped in consecutive fights by Tami Mauriello and Big Boy Brown, signaling the end of his career.
In terms of numbers, Burman wasn’t a great fighter. He finished with a 32% KO rate, indicating mediocre power. He did score more knockouts after moving up to heavy, though generally against journeymen and gatekeepers. Red went 1-6 against top ten heavyweights, though he was only truly outclassed against Joe Louis and John Henry Lewis. He was a good example of a tough era. Not physically gifted, but tough, smart and tenacious. Red Burman was a fighter, and for a few years, a good one.