Born in Redding, California, on June 15, 1932, Edward Mills “Eddie” Machen was an American boxer who died in August of 1972. He was one of a rural mail carrier’s six kids. Machen dropped out of high school and started boxing recreationally. But after just three fights, he was detained and found guilty of armed robbery.
He decided not to go back to prison after being released and turned pro at boxing. On March 22, 1955, he began his 64-fight career, winning his first 24 fights. He faced most of the top stars of his time and had a stellar reputation.
He engaged in a 12-round draw with highly regarded Zora Folley in April 1958. But in September, he suffered a one-round knockout loss against future heavyweight champion Ingemar Johansson. Machen was downed three times after being caught flush with an early surprise massive right hand; the last time lasted for a while.
Machen won seven straight races when making his comeback in 1959, putting him back in the mix. At the Cow Palace in January 1960, he was defeated by Folley in a judgment. Later that year, he faced future champion and ring icon Sonny Liston, and although he lost by a clear 12-round unanimous decision, they engaged in a skillful hit-and-move contest that many people think heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali later studied. Liston displayed signs of frustration by getting punished three times for low blows throughout that fight.
When he squared off against 6′ 6″ Ernie Terrell in 1965 for Muhammad Ali’s vacant World Boxing Association championship, Machen got his first shot at a world championship. The 15-round decision was won by Terrell.
He lost a close split-decision to imposing slugger Manuel Ramos in 1966 after losing a decision to German southpaw Karl Mildenberger in Germany. But he ended that year with two victories, one of which was particularly noteworthy because it was his first victory over future competitor Jerry Quarry.
Late in 1966, Machen lost to Joe Frazier, a rising heavyweight contender, via technical knockout in the tenth round. After being knocked out in the first round, Machen fought back, but Frazier’s persistent pressure forced the referee to step in during the final round. After an intense fight with Oscar Bonavena, Frazier was anxious for the victory.