October 10, 1912 – August 27, 1986
6’0½” / 74” reach / 168½-207¾lbs
89-21-12-2(50) from 12/21/1930 to 11/3/1951 (20y10m)
2-9-5-0(0) against the top ten
0-2-0-0(0) against linear champions
1-4-1-0(0) against hall-of-famers
2 fights for the linear championship – 0-2-0-0(0)
Top ten opponents: W-UD-12 Roscoe Toles, W-SD-10 Phil Muscato, D-10 Leroy Haynes, D-10 Al Ettore, D-10, D-12, D-12 Roscoe Toles, L-UD-10, L-UD-12, L-UD-12, L-UD-10 Roscoe Toles, L-UD-10 Nathan Mann, L-UD-12 Alberto Santiago Lovell, L-SD-15, L-TKO-8 Joe Louis, L-UD-10 Turkey Thompson
0.5 total score (2 + -7 + 2.5 + 3)
I’ve written before about the weaknesses of my ranking formula, specifically in the bottom 60 or so. I personally believe what I came up with is the best combination of factors that maximizes credit for achievement, while simultaneously acknowledging losses. It’s not a perfect system, and ranking the greatest is inherently subjective. But I still stand by it.
That said, there will be a few head-scratching rankings. This might be one. Based on who he fought in his career, and all of the draws (I may have to modify the rankings to take those into account at some point) against top opponents – Godoy could be 20 to 60 spots higher. Five draws against world-class opposition is quite rare, and definitely throws my formula off. Consider this ranking standing with an asterix. When I finish the capsules, I might redo the formula one more time and take draws into account, which might just bring Godoy up some spots.
Okay, self-flagellation accomplished. On to the biography.
Arturo Godoy started his career sometime in 1930 or 1931. His record is notoriously incomplete, because he had at least 7 fights to start his career in his native Chile, and not all were officially documented into his record. He also may have fought for an additional two years in Chile after his last official recorded fight, 20 years later. So the total number of wins and losses is actually just an estimate with Godoy. However, all of his fights against significant opponents are known, so that helps with this ranking.
Godoy indeed started his career in Chile, with at least seven total fights. He was fighting around the light heavyweight range at that point, only 18 years old, and still filling out. After leaving Chile, Godoy would fight about once a month over the next four years. His level of competition gradually improved as he learned on the job. He fought mostly in Cuba, Florida, and Spain, fighting clubfighters, journeymen, and domestic-level fringe contenders by 1934 or so. After 4 years and around 38 fights, Godoy sported an official record of 34-3-1(20). He developed a mauling, bruising style, centered around volume and a deep crouching stance, which made him a surprisingly difficult target. In many ways, his style was like a proto-Marciano – a comparison which would come up later… both by historians, and by me later in this piece.
In October 1934, with these 38 official fights behind him, Godoy took on the biggest name (to that point) of his career – future hall-of-famer Tommy Loughran. Loughran had been on the decline, and had dropped out of the heavyweight top ten a couple years before. But he was still a clever boxer, and managed to hold the larger, younger man to a 12 round draw. Two fights and three months later, Godoy met Loughran again, and this time the more experienced Loughran came away with the 12 round decision victory in a close and competitive fight. Two months later, they met for a third time, and this time, Godoy narrowly edged the older man. Loughran protested, but most observers thought the decision was fair. The experience gained in 34 competitive rounds with a legend was invaluable for the young Arturo.
A year and a half and four fights later (three KOs and a draw), Godoy took on another faded legend, this time The Wild Bull of the Pampas, Luis Angel Firpo. The older Argentinian was in the third fight of a comeback – having retired in 1926, but returned to the ring 10 years later. Firpo beat a pair of clubfighters with losing records easily, but when stepping up to a powerful young prospect, his age showed. Godoy dropped Firpo 9 times in just 4 brutal rounds, and retired him for good.
Godoy stepped up the competition from there, facing top ten contenders Leroy Haynes and Al Ettore in consecutive months, fighting to draws on both occasions. This allowed Godoy to end 1936 with his first top ten ranking – exactly at number 10, according the Ring.
After a few more fights, Godoy took on future contender Tony Galento in April 1937 in New York. I had a lot of trouble with this one. Galento was unranked to end 1936, but would be ranked 5th by the end of 1937. Since I didn’t have access to copies of the Ring circa 1937, I had to dig through Galento’s record and figure out when he would have become ranked. He would actually fight and lose to Godoy twice – in April and in June. None of his wins before Godoy were against top contenders, and likely wouldn’t have gotten him ranked. After his losses to Godoy, Galento would fight three more times in 1937, including two dominating knockout wins over legit contenders – Al Ettore and Leroy Haynes. Those wins were certainly what put Galento into the top ten. And considering how close Galento was to contention by that point, and how little difference a few months should make, I struggled whether or not to consider Galento a top ten opponent. Per my rules, he likely wasn’t, so Godoy doesn’t get the credit for having two more top ten wins, which would certainly raise his total score. On the other hand, fudging the rules here would inevitably lead to fudging the rules with at least two dozen other boxers on this list, and they would likely move up as well. It may not make a huge difference in the end. It’s possible that when my capsule bios are completed, and I redo the ranking formula to better include draws, I might re-review some of these close cases like Tony Galento almost being a contender.
But I digress. Godoy would win a ten round decision and a six round decision over almost-contender Tony “Two Ton” Galento, sandwiching a ten round points loss to new contender Roscoe Toles. After the second Galento fight, Godoy would take on Toles again, this time fighting to a 10 round draw. Godoy would close out 1937 with a tough loss to contender Nathan Mann, and a win over gatekeeper Eddie Mader.
Godoy would be out of the ring for 7 months, and would resurface in mid-1938 , with his next 9 fights exclusively held in Argentina, the final three winning, then eventually losing the South American heavyweight title. He would go 6-3(2) in Argentina, losing to Alberto Santiago Lovell and Valentin Campolo, then beating Lovell in the rematch for the South American title. He lost the title in August 1939 to Eduardo Primo, thanks to a disqualification, but that loss would end up leading to his big break.
On February 9, 1940, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Godoy challenged Joe Louis for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Godoy surprised everybody, most of all Louis. He took it to the champ early and often, rushing Louis, mauling, wrestling, and throwing constant leather. Godoy stayed low, made himself a difficult target, and was rarely deterred by the punches Louis did land. It was a sloppy affair, and Louis was forced into his roughest fight since his loss against Max Schmeling several years before. Neither man went down, and after 15 rounds, they had to go to the cards – a rarity in a Joe Louis fight. It was difficult to score, with the two judges offering wildy divergent scores, 10-5 Godoy and 10-4-1 Louis. Referee Arthur Donovan turned in the final scorecard, 10-5 for the defending champion. There were some that disagreed with the split nod for Louis, though most of the media agreed that Louis won 9 or 10 rounds. Regardless, Godoy acquitted himself quite well, and showed that Louis may have a problem with durable swarmers. Louis was most comfortable operating at mid-range, and he didn’t like being crowded. But Godoy was the first man to really capitalize on that. It was the Godoy fight that have led some historians to argue that Rocky Marciano would have given even a prime Joe Louis a tough fight. But I digress once more…
A moral victory was not enough for Arturo Godoy. He believed he won the fight, and wanted another crack at Louis. Joe, on the other hand, wanted to prove that he was definitely the better man. June 20, a little over four months after the first fight, they did it again. This time, The Brown Bomber did a much better job controlling distance, and landing sharp counters as Godoy came in. After 6 rounds of a tough, but more one-sided fight than before, Godoy was dropped late in the seventh. His face was a bloody mask. He came out gamely for the 8th, but Louis was a great finisher, and ended matters quickly, putting Godoy down twice more. The referee didn’t bother with a count the second time, waving the fight off, much to Godoy’s initial ire. Godoy proved his toughness, but Louis proved his greatness.
Godoy wasn’t ruined by Louis, though, and would fight twice more before the end of the year, outpointing future contenders Gus Dorazio and Tony Musto over ten rounds each. Godoy continued his relatively slow pace in 1941, only fighting three times – a decision loss to Alberto Santiago Lovell, a win over six fight novice Ernesto Carnesse, and a draw against old rival Roscoe Toles – his second draw in three fights with Toles.
1942 was much busier for Godoy. He opened the year with another attempt at the South American Heavyweight title held by Lovell, and once again lost a 12 round decision. He stayed in Buenos Aires and took on Roscoe Toles again, this time losing a decision. A win over gatekeeper Hans Havlicek followed, then two more fights against Toles – another draw, and another decision loss. He knocked out journeyman Antonio Soares in 1 round, then lost in 10 to Toles yet again. Finally, he ended the year with a win over old foe Eduardo Primo. Eight fights that year including 4 against Roscoe Toles.
Godoy would go on a tear in 1943, beating Lovell for the South American crown, scoring wins against regional opponents, and finally getting a points nod over Toles that August, in their eighth fight. In April 1944, Godoy would take on Lovell in their sixth go-round. I have been unable to find much detail regarding that fight, but apparently it ended after 11 rounds, and was deemed a no-contest. Whatever happened was a major controversy in Peru, and both men were arrested for their actions. If I find out more, I will update this, because I’m quite curious. It has to be a pretty interesting story.
Godoy followed that fiasco up with a 9 fight winning streak from the end of 1944 through to the end of 1945, including a 5th round KO over former contender Buddy Walker. A March 1946 contest with former (and future) contender Lee Savold was brought to a halt and ruled a no contest due to excessive holding, though most observers acknowledged Godoy tried harder than Savold to make a fight of it. Two fights later, Godoy put a prolonged beating on faded former contender Tony Musto, stopping him in 6.
Despite a long ring career, a style which (normally) tends to shorten careers, and reaching age 35, Godoy remained a viable fighter in 1946 and 1947. He would beat fighters like Buddy Knox, and lose to Joe Muscato and Turkey Thompson. In December 1947, Godoy would narrowly outpoint Phil Muscato, giving him his second official win over a top ten contender. That win would be the last hurrah for Godoy, though, as he began to noticeably decline soon after. In late ’48, he would be handily outboxed by 248! fight veteran Alabama Kid, and then beaten just as soundly by future hall-of-famer Harold Johnson.
A 1950 draw with future contender Karel Sys was a solid performance, but the fade was clear and inevitable. Boxrec.com can’t find any official record of a fight past a November 1951 draw against Alfredo Lagay, which stands as his last fight. But Godoy didn’t announce his retirement for another 14 months, and held the South American Heavyweight crown at that point, so he very likely had a few more fights in South America afterward.
As I said before, Godoy is likely underrated by me, and there may be an edit in the near future moving him up the list. He wasn’t an all-time great, but he was a very good fighter, with amazing durability, a difficult style and impressive longevity. I enjoyed watching him, and learning about his exploits.
03/01/2017 update – I gave in. I decided to go ahead and calculate draws. I also added two more fighters while I was at. As a result, Arturo Godoy scoots up from 174 to 158 in the ranking. If I eventually give in again and count the Galento fights as top ten victories, Godoy will move up to around 115. But for now, he’s sitting at 158.