Why Jeffries Came Back for Johnson & Marciano Didn’t for Johansson!
By: Ken Hissner
James J “The Boilermaker” Jeffries was considered one of the all-time great heavyweight champions when he retired after defeating Jack Munroe in 2 rounds in August of 1904. His record was 19-0-2 (16).
When Jack “The Galvestan Giant” Johnson became the first black champion defeating Tommy Burns in December of 1908 the white race seemed to be quite upset especially due to the arrogance of Johnson. Johnson had four defenses with the first a draw with light heavyweight champion Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, NWS decisions with Tony Ross 11-6-2, NWS with Al Kauffman 18-1 and came off the canvas to KO12 middleweight champion Stanley Ketchell.
Johnson as you can see was running out of opponents though also drawing “the color line” not defending against any of the black opponents since becoming champion. On the other hand even Jeffries Pastor in front of his congregation was embarrassing him saying “we have a coward amongst us” in trying to bring him back to take back the title from the black champion.
Jeffries had gained over 100 pounds and hadn’t fought in 6 years minus a month. He unwisely came back at 227 to Johnson’s 208. Jeffries was 224 in his last fight some 6 years before. Jeffries was stopped in the 15th of a scheduled 45 round scheduled battle. In those days if you took a knee the round was over. Johnson was 38-5-7 going into this fight outdoors in Reno, NV.
In Marciano’s decision not to return after retiring coming off the canvas to knockout light heavyweight champion Archie Moore in his last bout in September of 1959 he had no plans to return to the ring. Floyd Patterson would defeat Moore for the vacant title. There was talk of a Marciano Patterson fight but Marciano who would take months prior to a fight away from his family wanted to spend time lost with his wife and children. At retirement he was 49-0 (43) with 6 title defenses the first was a KO1 over “Jersey” Joe Walcott whom he won the title over with a KO13 while behind in the scoring 4-7, 5-7 and 4-8 needing a knockout to win.
Marciano went onto KO11 Roland LaStarza in 1953 who he had won a split decision over in 1950 before becoming champion. He then defeated the former champion Ezzard Charles twice. The first was a decision 8-5, 9-5 and 8-6 and in the rematch Charles split Marciano’s nose so bad a only a knockout would save his title from the referee or ring physician possibly stopping the fight though ahead 5-1 and 6-1 twice. Then after 8 months he knocked out the British Empire champion Don Cockell 66-11-1 in 9 rounds with the Moore fight to follow.
Patterson after defeating Moore for the vacant defended his title 6 times all by knockout until he was knocked out by Sweden’s Ingemar Johansson. This is when Marciano felt he would come back to bring the title back to America. He spent time alone nearby his home trying to get back in shape. He said the desire wasn’t there anymore. Patterson would come back to win the title from Johansson bringing back the title to America.
More Boxing History
When Is Too Tall Not an Asset in Boxing?
By: Ken Hissner
There have been approximately eight men who were 7’0” or taller that put the gloves on in the professional ranks. Only one ever made it and that was the 7’0” former WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev, 50-2 (34), of Russia who retired in 2009.
There are two still active in Marselles “More Than A Conqueror” Brown, 33-18-1 (25), of Louisville, KY, who is 48 years old and has won his last six fights all in Mexico. He retired in 2008 and came back in 2014 with Roy Jones, Jr. training him. He won and lost in North Carolina and then moved his game to Mexico.
Among Brown’s losses to major opponents were Trevor Berbick, Tommy Morrison, Lamont Brewster, Derrick Jefferson. The Jefferson bout ended in the second round due to accidental clash of heads. He won his first eleven bouts by knockout with all but one in the first round.
The other is 7’0” Julius “Towering Inferno” Long, 18-20 (14), formerly out of Michigan now living in Auckland, NZ. He is promoted by Pacific Promotions Mark Eriksen, of Australia. He’s been in with Audley Harrison, Rob Calloway, Tye Fields, Samuel Peter, Odlainer Solis, Alexander Ustinov, Ray Austin, Mariusz Wach, Lucas Browne, Jonathan Banks and Kevin Johnson.
Long is scheduled on May 7th in Australia to fight 41 year old Solomon Haumono, 24-3-2 (21), of Australia in a defense of his the interim WBA Oceania title. He won it in his last bout defeating Bowie Tupou, 26-4, in Australia. He’s been 3-3 since moving to Auckland in 2013.
Others over 7’0” who have tried boxing are “Big” John Rankin, 1-0, of New Orleans, La., at 7’4”, and Ewart Potgieter, 11-2-1, RSA, at 7’2”, who won his first nine bouts by knockout. He came to the US in 1957 and had four fights in four months going 2-2 before retiring.
Thomas Payne, 2-2, of Napa, CA, at 7’2” had all four bouts ending in knockout from 1984-85. He played for the U of Kentucky and the Atlanta Hawks. He will probably spend the rest of his life in prison. Gil Anderson, 2-0 (2), of Richmond, CA, had both fights in 1954, and was 7’0”. Another was Gogea “Giant of Marsani” Mitu, 2-0-1 (2), from Marsani, Romania, at 7’4” who fought in 1935-36.
Remember Ed “Too Tall” Jones, 6-0 (5) at 6’10”, fought in 1979 and 1980? He was a former Dallas Cowboy. He was a high school basketball All-American who chose football when he went to Tennessee State. He had to come off the canvas in his first bout but went onto win the 6 rounder.
Manute Bol, at 7’6” had a celebrity boxing exhibition with professional football player William “Refrigerator” Perry, in 2002 on the Fox Network. He did quite well keeping Perry from doing anything.
Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain at 7’1” was rumored to fight champions Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali but never did. Ali went up to him and whispered in his ear “timber” and that was the last time Chamberlain considered boxing.