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After going 8-0 with 6 kayos in 1941, he moved with his wife and daughter to Minnesota. It was here that his new manager, Bobby Eton, and promoter Tommy O'Loughlin would attempt to gain Charley universal recognition as a legitimate title challenger. With a little help from the State Boxing Commission, who gave Charley special dispensation to compete in any weight division above his own, he embarked upon the busiest year of his career.
Charley got 1942 off to a flying start beating everyone that was put in front of him; fighters that included the Hogue brothers ('Shorty' and 'Big Boy') the great Holman Williams and the heavyweight J.D. Turner, his promoter sent legitimate offers to the current champions. Title challenges to Freddie 'Red' Cochran at welterweight, Tony Zale at Middleweight all proved fruitless since those titles were frozen for the duration of WW II. One proposed offer to Cochran was that Charley would fight for free with his percentage going to the war fund; still no deal. Johnny Ray was offered $10,000 plus a percentage of the gate for Billy Conn, again no deal. Zale's management had other plans for their man so, again, no deal.
During this busy year Charley battled the likes of Ezzard Charles, (L10, L10), Lloyd Marshall (L10), the Hogue brothers (KO 10 and KO 6), Joe Sutka, (KO 4), Phil McQuillan, (KO1), and the aforementioned Jay Turner. All genuine middleweights, light-heavyweights and heavyweights. The giant Texan had a few months previous been the full 10 rounds with Billy Conn. For the meeting with Charley Burley Turner had a weight advantage of a staggering 70 lbs., but even this could not prevent him from being bust up, dropped and stopped by Burley inside of 6 rounds. The two fights with Ezzard Charles were held in a five-week period with a points win over Holman Williams six days before the second fight!
A chance meeting with Ray Robinson in the lobby of a hotel in New York, when Charley was in town to fight Phil McQuillan, (April 20, 1942) led to the two meeting on the same bill at the Minneapolis Armoury. Charley kayoed Sammy Wilson of Detroit in two while Ray beat Dick Banner in the same number of rounds, (April 30th 1942). Watching from ringside the 'Sugar Man' told his manager, "I'm too pretty to fight Charley Burley".
Despite great efforts to make the match the two would never meet in the ring, although it nearly happened twice and dates were set. Robinson initially signed for a May 1946 fight, but raised the price to close to $25,000 when he wanted an out. Although he wanted to fight Robinson in the worst possible way Charley was never bitter about the way Sugar Ray avoided him because he knew that he was the better man and that he would have beaten Robinson. Though never boastful Charley Burley had the utmost confidence in his own ability and when he did lose he made no bones about it he could always tell the truth.
Following a points defeat by Lloyd Marshall, (who Charley rated as his toughest opponent), Charley was close to exhaustion. He had covered many thousands of miles on the road fighting 17 times in all; with not a soft touch amongst them. Tommy O'Loughlin, who was now Charley's manager, decided that a move to California, which boasted such greats as Jack Chase, Lloyd Marshall, Eddie Booker, Billy Smith, Archie Moore and Aaron Wade, would be beneficial to Burley's career. After defeating the likes of Harvey Massey, 'Tiger' Wade and Bobby Birch, Charley received a chance to fight for the California State Middleweight title which was held by Jack Chase, whom Charley had previously beaten over 10 rounds (February 1943). Chase, who had never been stopped in 55 bouts, was kayoed in the 9th (April 3rd 1944). Charley repeated this feat five months later, this time putting Chase away in the 12th. In between he won four other fights, three of which came via the short route. The man who stayed the distance in a losing effort was Archie Moore. Charley bounced Moore off the canvas three times on the way to an emphatic points victory. A couple of Charley's friends have stated that Charley didn't like 'cocky' fighters and that he allowed Moore, and another boastful fighter Billy Smith, to go the distance. The 'Old Mongoose' often cites Charley as the greatest fighter he ever fought, calling Burley "as slick as lard and twice as greasy." Very impressive when you consider the names on Moore's record.
Charley campaigned from 1943 through 1946 with only one loss, over 12 rounds to old foe Holman Williams. That meeting between the two (July 11th 1945) would be the last of seven meetings; with the final tally being three wins each with one no contest. Charley scored the only kayo of the series, winning in the 9th round in 1942. Other victims during this 26-fight period included, Joe Carter, (W10), Aaron 'Tiger' Wade, (W10), Charley Banks, (W10), Dave Clark, (KO1), the often-avoided Bert Lytel, (W10), and 'Oakland' Billy Smith, (W10, W10). Speaking of Smith, the only, near complete, film of a Charley Burley fight that exists is his second meeting with the light-heavyweight contender, (April 24th 1946).
From January 1940 up to August 1946 Charley Burley fought 60 times. He scored 31 stoppages, won 20 times over the distance, had 2 draws and 1 no-contest. The only fighter close to his own weight to beat him during this period was Holman Williams, (L15 L12). His other losses were to Ezzard Charles, (twice), Jimmy Bivins, and Lloyd Marshall, and we all know how good they were, even without weight advantages of ten pounds or more.