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One Hundred and Eight Years Ago Jeffries and Johnson Fought


By: Ken Hissner

On the 4th of July in 1910 James J Jeffries was “forced” by his pastor during a sermon saying “we have a coward among us” and started a mistaking comeback. He had to shed 100 pounds and 6 years of inactivity. Who knows prime time to prime time what the then unbeaten Jeffries, 19-0-2, would have done to Johnson, 52-5-10.

Jeffries had drawn with Joe Choynski, 37-6-3, who had knocked out Jack Johnson in 1901. Jeffries was known as “The Boilmaker” and was from Carroll, OH, living later in Burbank, CA. Johnson was known as “The Galveston Giant” being from Galveston, TX.

The bout was scheduled for 45 rounds but ended in the fifteenth. Tex Rickard was the referee and promoter. President Taft declined to be the referee. There were 16,528 in attendance.

The “White Hope” era started with Johnson. Jeffries had beaten the first black to claim being a champion in Peter Jackson, 51-3-13, in 1898, knocking him out in 3 rounds.

Johnson would later be knocked out by big Jess Willard in Havana, Cuba, in 1915 in a fight many say he “fixed” as he lay on the canvas with his arms shielding his eyes from the sun.

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Why Jack Johnson Deserved A Pardon


By Adam J. Pollack

There are several reasons why former world heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion,deserved to be pardoned posthumously by President Donald J. Trump.

I am no supporter of the “White Slave Traffic Act,” an act intended to protect white women from forced prostitution, but whose wording is so vague and overbroad it made nearly all sexual immorality (even noncommercial sex, includingconsensual sex with your girlfriend if you weren’t married to her) a federal offense if the woman crossed state lines for the purposes of the immorality, and the defendant provided her with the funds to travel across state lines, including a train ticket, with the intent and purpose to commit the immoral acts. To me, the law is a violation of the commerce clause and the 10th amendment, although the U.S. Supreme upheld it. The law eventually was amended in 1978 and 1986 to be limited only to prostitution or illegal sexual acts, as opposed to “immoral” acts, which prior to then, was sex with anyone to whom you were not married. Let’s face it, the law was a ridiculous limitation on liberty, and not truly grounded in any constitutional power given to Congress, because human beings are not commercial goods, and having consensual sex (not for payment) has nothing to do with commerce, or any of the enumerated powers given to the federal government.

Although known as the Mann Act because James Mann proposed it, the law’s official legal title was “White Slave Traffic Act.” Notice the overtly racially biased motivation behind the act. Although the law’s language was racially neutral, clearly the intent was to protect white women, not black women. The vast majority of prosecutions involved instances where the woman traveling across state lines was white. The government rarely ever bothered to prosecute when the woman was black.

The law often was abused by women who were angry at their former lovers, or used it to blackmail boyfriends into giving them money, or into marriage, because the law criminalized the man, not the woman. It criminalized the person for providing the funds for travel, as opposed to the person receiving the funds. Hence, the woman, although engaging in a totally consensual sexual relationship with the man, could receive the money to travel, and then subsequently could threaten to turn the man in to the government for prosecution. Essentially the law became a sword rather than a shield.

Although Belle Schreiber was a seasoned prostitute, she basically was Johnson’s girlfriend. She left a brothel to live and travel with him. At various times, he even called her his wife. She willingly and consensually traveled the country with Johnson for over a year prior to the Mann Act’s passage. He put her up in nice hotels, paid all of her expenses, and she lived very well.

Although the law went into effect on July 1, 1910, the government did not care about Johnson’s travels with several women until 1912. Johnson was prosecuted in 1913 for acts that had taken place back in 1910. So why was the government so concerned by the fact that Jack Johnson had given Belle Schreiber $75 two years earlier, in October 1910? The entire underlying reason was race.

After Johnson’s white wife Etta committed suicide on September 12, 1912, most newspapers throughout the nationused the incident to write homilies on how it was an example of the inevitable result of an interracial marriage; never mind the fact that Etta was a depressive. At that time, the majority of states, 29 out of the 48-state Union, had state laws forbidding interracial marriage, and the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld such laws. The racial and political climate in the wake of Johnson’s wife’s suicide was one that strongly frowned upon the idea of him dating another white woman, given what had happened with Etta. Some even went so far as to state that Etta did the sanest act of her life when she killed herself.

What truly angered the federal government and got it to take notice was the fact that a month after his wife’s death, Johnsonwas dating yet another white woman, Lucille Cameron, a former prostitute, and Cameron’s mother strongly objected. On October 18, 1912, Cameron’s mother had Johnson arrested for abduction, and her own daughter arrested for disorderly conduct, and requested an evaluation as to her mental sanity, because she thought her daughter had to be insane to be with Johnson. She preferred her daughter be imprisoned rather than be the girlfriend of a black man. She allegedly said, “I would rather see my daughter spend the rest of her life in an insane asylum than see her the plaything of a nigger.”

Of course, the charges were ludicrous, for Cameron informed law enforcement that she loved Johnson, was with him willingly, and wanted to become his wife. The police, judges, and prosecutors abused the law horribly, and charged, arrested, and detained Johnson and Cameron even when they knew there was no legal basis whatsoever to do so. Furthermore, Illinois had no anti-interracial relationship laws. The state government and Cameron’s mother did what they did in an attempt to facilitate the breaking up of the relationship. They saw the attempted ends as justifying the unethical means. It was a clear abuse of power.Yet, the white press, and even some members of the black press, came down hard on Johnson. The black press feared a backlash of increased prejudice.

There was an atmosphere of hysteria and anger towards Johnson, who had to hire bodyguards to protect him against threatened assassination attempts. The black-owned Freeman wrote, “Mr. Johnson should bear in mind that sentiment and custom are often stronger than written laws. For instance, most of the states have laws that permit Negroes to do what other men do, but when it comes to doing those things then it is something else.” “Let Mr. Jack Johnson kindly cut the female white people out of his operations and he will have plain sailing.” “He’s free, and all that, as he says, but there are ‘invisible’ laws to which he must subscribe – the agreements of society – if he would enjoy a large measure of that freedom of which he boasts.”

It was at that time that the federal government decided to start investigating Johnson, and see what it could get on him. The Chicago Broad Ax said the minions of the law, like a pack of wolves, were hunting Johnson day and night. It noted that Cameron’s relationship with Johnson was consensual, and he was taking very good care of her. She needed no protection. Conversely, when black women were raped, they could obtain no justice whatsoever. The Chicago Defender lamented, “Our white brethren, whose minds are enslaved by prejudice, and whose daily papers, with their brimstone and blood-thirsty articles of condensed suggestions, seem to be laboring very energetically to provoke violence against this Negro whom the world has failed to conquer by fair play.”

Shortly thereafter, the federal government indicted Johnson under the “White Slave Traffic Act.” The black-owned Seattle Republican opined that had the woman been black instead of white, “the federal authorities would have considered it beneath their dignity to give it a moment’s consideration.” The Freemanalso noted the inconsistency of Mann Act prosecutions, which were based solely on race. White men lusted after coloredwomen, in both the North and South: “Yet in all this the government has never yet invoked the white slave law.”

Eventually, on November 19, 1912, the groundless state abduction charge against Johnson was dismissed, but by then he was facing federal charges.

On December 3, 1912, Johnson married Lucille Cameron, which only added fuel to an already racially charged fire. On December 11, U.S. Congressional Representative Seaborn Roddenberry, a Georgia Democrat, from the House floor said, “We have heard much of slavery in the South, but in all the years of Southern slavery there never was such brutality, such infamy as the marriage license authorizing that black African brute, Jack Johnson, to wed a white woman and to bind her in the wedlock of black slavery.” He advocated for a constitutional amendment banning interracial marriage.

Johnson’s trial began on May 5, 1913. According to Belle Schreiber, in October 1910, she was kicked out of a Pittsburgh sporting house, or brothel. She was not dating Johnson at that time. But she was in need of help, so she reached out to Johnson. “When I was put out of that place in Pittsburgh, I asked the defendant for money to help me get away because I didn’t have any more friends. I lost all my friends, and he was the only one I could turn to. I suppose I regarded him as my friend, too. I thought it was due for him to see me through my trouble.”

Schreiber spoke to someone who worked for him, for Jack was traveling the country at the time. A telegram was sent back asking her how much she needed. She replied, and then Johnson sent her $75. She claimed that Johnson included a message asking her to go to a home in Chicago. However, she did not keep the alleged telegram, and the government never produced it, even though she had kept all of the hotel bills from her travels with Johnson from back in 1909. “I don’t know why I saved the hotel bills and didn’t save anything else.” She came to Chicago, and eventually met with Johnson at a hotel and had sex with him.

Schreiber claimed that Johnson told her that since she was sporting, she might as well be in business for herself, as opposed to giving half of her money to others. He supplied her with enough money to obtain a very large seven-room apartment, as well as enough money, over $1,000, to furnish it lavishly.

Johnson denied that he had any intent regarding what Schreiber should do when he gave her the money. She told him she needed help, and he gave her help. He denied telling Schreiber to travel, although at one point in his testimony he admitted that he could not remember whether he did or did not tell her to come to Chicago. He said that once she arrived in Chicago, she contacted him, not the other way around, as she claimed, and they met up. She told him that she wanted her mother and sister to come live with her, so he gave her money to get an apartment and furnish it. He denied ever telling her to open up a sporting house.

Under the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a Defendant is entitled to a jury of his peers, which would include women and black folk. However, owing to the era’s racially and sexually discriminatory laws, there were no blacks or women in the jury pool. So Jack Johnson had a jury of all white men.

The prosecutors improperly attempted to inflame the passions of the jury with totally irrelevant facts to the charges at hand, including injecting facts about other women, his wife Etta, potential violence against Etta, Belle, and others, allegations about his fight career, and general morality, including facts prior to the passage of the Act, and allegations for which the government had no proof. The government charged him with crimes against nature, but no facts supporting such charges ever were presented. The government accused him of debauchery, but no supportive facts were presented. The government accused him of dropping off one or more women at sporting houses when he did not want to take care of one, but again, no proof was presented. Such charges were dropped before the close of the case, but one has to wonder why they were included in the first place. The Freeman believed that the prosecutor, realizing his inability to make a case, resorted to irrelevant matters wholly immaterial to the case at bar, in an attempt to prejudice the jury. It was a character assassination.

It is not clear that the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jack Johnson’s specific intent at the time he gave Schreiber the money was for her to travel across state lines, or to travel for immoral purposes, both of which were required elements. She reached out to him for help when she needed it, and he helped her. There was scant proof that at the time he gave her the $75 that his specific intent was for her to travel across state lines so that she could engage in prostitution.

Within an hour after the close of the evidence, the jury convicted him on the counts accusing him of providing funds for Schreiber to travel across state lines for immoral purposes, and to travel for purposes of prostitution.

After he was convicted, the prosecutor admitted that the entire motive behind the prosecution was racial, done as a result of feelings of anti-miscegenation. In other words, if the woman had been black instead of white, Johnson never would have been prosecuted. Gloating Assistant U.S. District Attorney Harry Parkin, the chief prosecutor handling the case for the government, said, “This verdict will go around the world. It is a forerunner of laws to be passed throughout the entire country forbidding miscegenation. Many persons believe the negro has been persecuted. Perhaps as an individual he was, but his misfortune will be a foremost example of the evil in permitting intermarriage between whites and blacks. He must bear the consequences.”

The Freeman said that Parkin’s comments proved that Johnson was not being prosecuted for being good to Belle Schreiber, but persecuted for marrying his white wives. “Perhaps this is the first time in the history of the country where a federal court officer has given it out that a prosecution was not based on the charges preferred; that a race prejudice was the underlying motive of the prosecution; that it was in the interest of the race division. All of this is appalling in view of the source from which it came.” “It is to be hoped that the government will not be put in the unenviable light of persecuting a race.”

At his sentencing, the government specifically requested that Johnson be housed in a maximum security prison at Leavenworth, Kansas, as opposed to the normal usual designation of the local Joliet penitentiary. The judge granted the request.

The judge specifically considered Johnson’s race in sentencing, something also which would be considered improper and unconstitutional today – a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. Race is not a proper sentencing consideration. Judge George Carpenter said, “The circumstances in this case have been aggravating. The life of the defendant, by his own admissions, has not been at all a moral one. The defendant is one of the best known men of his race, and his example has been far reaching. The court is bound to take these facts into consideration in determining the sentence to be imposed. In this case the defendant shall be confined one year and one day in the Leavenworth penitentiary and that he shall pay a fine of $1,000.”

While his appeal was pending, Johnson left the country.

A little known fact is that on April 14, 1914, the federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit overturned Johnson’sconvictions on the prostitution counts, chastised the prosecution for improperly attempting to inflame the passions of the jury, and also stated that an atmosphere of prejudice pervaded the record. Yet, despite the fact that an atmosphere of prejudice pervaded the record, he was not afforded a re-trial on the immorality counts, the convictions for which the Court upheld.

The Court held that the mere fact that Johnson supplied Schreiber with sufficient money to enable her to open up and run a brothel after she arrived in Chicago was not enough, for it only raised suspicion regarding his intent at the time he provided her with the money for the train ride to Chicago. There were no supplementary facts. There was no proof that Johnson had been connected with or interested in brothels or ever had aided anyone to engage in prostitution. In fact, the Court held that the prostitution evidence was “slight and dubious.”

The Court criticized the government for its improper methods and tactics designed to inflame the jury’s passions in order to prejudice them against Johnson, and for not dismissing counts it knew it could not prove. Nothing justified the injection of collateral issues. The Court held that all of the improper questions and evidence “show the atmosphere of prejudice that pervades the record.” Hence, “When the situation thus improperly created is measured against the doubtfully sustainable prostitution counts, we are all convinced that defendant did not have a fair trial on that issue.”

Yet, despite the government’s improper inflammation of the jury’s passions, creating an atmosphere of prejudice which pervaded the record, the Court did not reverse the convictions on the sexual relations counts, for “the record demonstrates that, no matter how improperly the prejudices of jurors may have been aroused, no other verdict could properly have been reached.” Many folks, then and now, might strongly disagree. Johnson was entitled to have a fair trial with a decision made by an unbiased jury whose passions were not inflamed improperly against him. Such improperly inflamed passions easily could have affected the jury’s judgment on all counts, not just the ones involving prostitution. The Court ordered that he be re-sentenced on the immorality counts, without consideration of the prostitution counts.

Rather than return to the U.S. and be re-sentenced, Johnson decided to remain at large for several years. He lost his championship crown in 1915.

Although some folks like to reference Johnson’s alleged penchant for violence towards women, or allude to him being a pimp, he never was convicted of assaulting women (unless one considers an earlier conviction for “attempted” statutory assault, for which he was fined), nor was he ever convicted of being a pimp.

On July 20, 1920, a 42-year-old Jack Johnson returned to the U.S., surrendered to federal agents at the Mexican border, and was taken into custody. At his re-sentencing hearing on September 14, 1920, Judge George A. Carpenter once again sentenced Johnson to serve one year and a day at Leavenworth Prison and pay a $1,000 fine.

In January 1921, the Leavenworth Prison’s Parole Board unanimously recommended that Johnson be paroled.

However, on January 21, 1921, the Justice Department, at the behest of U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, denied parole, and Johnson was required to serve his full one-year term, less any required credits for time previously served. Palmer was the attorney general who in response to strikes, race riots, and fear of communism and anarchism, had created the General Intelligence Unit, which would be led by J. Edgar Hoover.

On July 9, 1921, a 43-year-old Jack Johnson was released from prison.

After a ten-year marriage, Lucille Cameron divorced Johnson in early 1924. In August 1925, Johnson married Irene Pineau, another white woman, to whom he remained married until his death.

Adam J. Pollack is the author of In the Ring With Jack Johnson – Part I: The Rise, and Part II: The Reign. His upcoming Black Man Versus the World: Jack Johnson’s Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs, is set to be published later this year.

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Breaking: Donald Trump Pardons Jack Johnson


By: Sean Crose

Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight champion of the world, has finally been pardoned. Johnson, who has been dead for over seventy years, is reported to be only the third person in history to be posthumously pardoned by a sitting United States President. Donald Trump made things official on Tuesday at the request of numerous notables of the sporting, political and entertainment worlds. Sylvester Stallone is said to have played a huge role in Johnson’s eventual pardon.

Johnson, a victim of a racist era, was convicted of violating the Mann Act in 1913, which basically meant he was found guilty of taking a white woman across state lines. The legal action led Johnson to leave the country for seven years, effectively making one of the most famous athletes in history an exile from his own country. Having held the heavyweight title from 1908, when he bested then champ Tommy Burns, until 1915, when, at the age of 37, he lost to Jess Willard in Cuba, Johnson is widely considered to have been one of the greatest boxers in history.

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Showtime Boxing Results: Russell Defeats Diaz, Stevenson and Jack Battle to a Draw


By: William Holmes

Showtime has shown no signs of slowing down in putting on competitive fights with a split site double header on their Showtime World Championship Boxing telecast.

The opening bout of the night was between Gary Russell Jr. (28-1) and Joseph Diaz (26-0) for the WBC Featherweight Title. This bout took place at The Theater at the MGM Grand National Harbor in Maryland.

Joseph Diaz entered the ring first and Russell second to a much louder ovation.


Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account

Both boxers were southpaws and Diaz looked like the bigger fighter, but Russell established early on that he had the better hand speed. He was active with his jab in the opening round and had a strong start to the fight.

Russell continued with his jab in the early parts of the second round, but Diaz had some moderate success to the body and ended the round strong.

The third round was a closer round, but it looked like Diaz was willing to take a few punches from Russell in order to land one punch of his own. Diaz ended the round with two good straight left hands.

Diaz kept a high guard in the fourth and fifth rounds but Russell landed the higher volume of punches while Diaz landed the harder shots to the body. Diaz had a strong fifth round, but Russell came back in the sixth round with his active jab and high volume output.

Russell was the first man to throw and land in the seventh and eighth rounds and looked like he was beginning to walk away with the fight. Russell hand speed was on full display in the ninth round as Diaz was simply not throwing enough punches.

Diaz had a better tenth round and took more risks than earlier rounds, but was also countered more often by the faster Russell.

The final two rounds featured several fierce exchanges, and Russell looked like he was beginning to fade a little bit in the last round, but Diaz wasn’t able to do enough to get a stoppage.
The Judges scored the fight 115-113, 117-111, and 117-111.

The last fight televised by Showtime was a WBC Light Heavyweight Title Fight between Champion Adonis Stevenson (29-1) and challenger Badou Jack (22-1-2) at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.

Stevenson, a southpaw, and Jack, fighting out of an orthodox stance, had spent the better part of two rounds feeling each other out and tried to find their range. Stevenson was able to land some straight left hands in the second and was more active in the third, but Jack was able to land some counters in the third round.


Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account

Jack was able to fire off his punches first in the fourth round but took a good left uppercut from Stevenson with about thirty seconds left. Stevenson was the aggressor in the fifth and sixth rounds while Jack fought mainly out of a tight high guard. Jack was warned for a low blow at the end of the sixth round.

Jack started to come forward in the seventh round and hurt Stevenson with a short right hand followed up by combinations. Jack was snapping the head of Stevenson in the seventh with his uppercuts, but he was warned for a low blow again at the end of the round.

Jack opened up the eighth round with another low blow and Adonis Stevenson was given time to recover. Jack followed up with short right hooks and uppercuts and was able to bust open the nose of Badou jack.

Jack looked like the fresher fighter in the ninth round and had Stevenson stumbling at one point. Stevenson was able to come back and have a strong tenth round when he hurt Jack with a body shot and had Jack peddling backwards.

Stevenson pressed the pace early on in the eleventh round and had Jack in full retreat, but he tired in the middle of the round and Jack re-established dominance in the ring.

Both boxers were able to land some good shots in the final round, but Jack ended the fight strong with a hard combination as the final bell rang.

The judges scored the bout 114-114, 115-113 Jack, 114-114 for a majority draw.

Adonis Steven retains the title with a draw.

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Showtime Boxing Preview: Stevenson vs. Jack, Russell vs. Diaz


By: William Holmes

On Saturday night Showtime network will broadcast two fights from two separate locations on a split site feature.

One fight will feature a WBC Light Heavyweight Title Fight between current champion Adonis Stevenson and the Swedish fighter Badou Jack. This bout will be taking place in Toronto, Canada at the Air Canada Centre. The other bout will be a WBC Featherweight Title between Gary Russell Jr. and Joseph Diaz Jr.


Photo Credit: Badou Jack Twitter Account

The following is a preview of both televised fights.

Adonis Stevenson (29-1) vs. Badou Jack (22-1-2); WBC Light Heavyweight Title

Adonis Stevenson has often been mentioned as one of the best light heavyweights in the world along with Sergei Kovalev and Andre Ward, but neither of those fights have ever come to fruition and he’s no forty years old and past his athletic prime.

Stevenson will face a very tough opponent in Badou Jack. Jack is six years younger than Stevenson, but has also been more active. He fought twice in 2017 and once in 2016, while Stevenson only fought once in 2017 and once in 2016.

Stevenson will also be giving up about two inches in height to Jack, but he will have a four inch reach advantage. Stevenson will be fighting in his home country which shouldn’t be a big surpise since he has only fought outside of Canada two times. This will be Jack’s first fight outside of the United States since 2010.

Both boxers had successful amateur careers. Stevenson was a Canadian National Champion and Jack was a Swedish National Champion and a competitor in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Stevenson has defeated the likes of Andrzej Fonfara, Thomas Williams Jr., Tommy Karpency, Sakio Bika, Tony Bellew, Tavoris Cloud, Chad Dawson, and Donovan George. His lone loss was the Darnell Boone, which he later avenged.

Jack also has a good professional resume, though his level of competition in recent fights surpasses that of Stevenson. His lone loss was a shocking TKO upset loss to Derek Edwards in 2014. He has two draws against James DeGale and Marco Antonio Periban. He has defeated the likes of Nathan Cleverly, Lucian Bute, George Groves, Anthony Dirrell, and Marco Antonio Periban.

If this fight happened five years ago Stevenson would have to be considered the favorite. But he’s now forty years old and has been fairly inactive recently while Jack has been steadily facing tougher and tougher competition.

If this fight goes to the Judges scorecards Stevenson may have a slight edge since the fight is happening in Canada, but the timing feels right for Jack to pull off a victory.

Gary Russell Jr. (28-1) vs. Joseph Diaz Jr. (26-0); WBC Featherweight Title

Golden Boy Promotions needs to be given credit for their willingness to throw their fighters in the ring with top fighters from other promotions. The Diaz-Russell fight is a good example of Golden Boy taking a risk by putting one of their top guys against an established champion.

Diaz is twenty five and will be four years younger than Russell. However, Joseph Diaz has been very active since 2016. He fought once in 2018, twice in 2017 and four times in 2016. Russell only fought once in 2017, 2016, and in 2015.

Diaz will have about an inch and a half reach height advantage and both boxers have the same reach. They both represented the United States in the Summer Olympics, Russell in 2008 and Diaz in 2012.

Diaz is a southpaw, and the only boxer that Russell lost to, Vasyl Lomachenko, was a southpaw. It will be interesting to see what adjustments Russell has made since he last fought Lomachenko.

Russell represents the biggest test of Diaz’s young career. He has defeated the likes of Victor Terrazas, Rafael Rivera, Manuel Avila, Jayson Velez, and Ruben Tamayo.

Russell has been fairly inactive for a world champion, but has defeated some very good fighters. He has defeated the likes of Oscar Escandon, Patrick Hyland, Jhonny Gonzlaez, and Christopher Martin. His lone loss was the Vasyl Lomachenko, who has since jumped up two weight classes to dethrone Jorge Linares as the Lightweight Champion.

Russell’s inactivity should be of concern to his camp, especially since he’s facing a young, undefeated, challenger who has a strong amateur pedigree.

This fight will be close, but age and activity has this writer giving Diaz a slight edge on Saturday night.

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Boxing Insider Notebook: Thurman, Barrera, Magdaleno, Russell, Diaz, Stevenson, and more…


Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of April 17th to April 24th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Injury Rehabilitation Forces Keith Thurman to Relinquish WBC Belt

Unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman has voluntarily relinquished his WBC title while he recovers from the effects of elbow surgery last year and a hand injury he suffered in training camp last month.
After speaking with WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman recently, Thurman decided that he would relinquish the title and open the way for former champions Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, the two leading contenders for the WBC title, to fight each other for the championship while Thurman made a full recovery from his injuries.

“Due to my rehabilitation from my injuries, I agreed to relinquish my WBC title at this time. I continue to rehab my hand and elbow and I look forward to getting back in the ring this summer. This is a temporary setback and I will be the unified champion once again and look forward to winning back my WBC title as soon as possible,” said Thurman.

“Keith Thurman unfortunately has suffered two consecutive injuries that have kept him out of the ring after his sensational victory over Danny Garcia and he has graciously relinquished his title, and the WBC has mandated that Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter will fight for the title,” said Mauricio Sulaiman. “Keith will have a direct path to fight for the title once he has healed just as Vitali Klitshcko and other WBC champions have done in the past. Keith is a tremendous athlete, champion and role model. The WBC will support him completely during this difficult time. ”

Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs), a former unified champion at 140 pounds and the former WBC welterweight champion, lost the WBC title to Thurman by 12-round split decision in 2017. He bounced back with a knockout victory over former champion Brandon Rios in February. The WBC had made that fight a title elimination match, which put Garcia in line to fight Thurman again for the title.

Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs), a former welterweight champion, lost a close 12-round decision to Thurman in 2016. He became the mandatory challenger for the WBC title when he knocked out Andre Berto last year. He maintained his status with a 12-round decision over Adrian Granados in November.

The 29-year-old Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) has been plagued by a string of injuries the last two years.
Thurman injured his neck in a car accident in February 2016, which delayed his match against Porter by three months. When they met Thurman defeated Porter by unanimous decision on June 25.

He defeated Garcia by split decision in a welterweight unification match on March 4, 2017. A month later he had major surgery on his right elbow to remove bone spurs and calcium deposits. He is still in rehabilitation from that surgery.

Thurman injured his hand hitting the heavy bag last month and aggravated the injury sparring with some amateurs at his gym in St. Petersburg, Florida. An MRI revealed bruises to the metacarpal bones in the hand, which also has extensive swelling. Thurman can’t have any impact with the hand for at least 8 weeks, which added another delay to his ring return.

He now hopes to return to the ring in the late summer or early fall.

Jessie Magdaleno: I’m Going to Put on a Spectacular Show

World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior featherweight champion Jessie Magdaleno has spent his latest training camp running the mountains near Guadalajara, Mexico, and alongside some of the world’s best fighters at Legendz Boxing in Norwalk, Calif. Magdaleno is preparing for the role of main event headliner against No. 1 contender and interim champion Isaac Dogboe (18-0, 12 KOs) on Saturday, April 28 at The Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.

“I’m mentally ready. I’m physically ready,” Magdaleno said. “Being here with {trainer} Manny Robles keeps me ready. The sparring has been great, but I get impatient sometimes and just want to get in the ring for real. I have to stay calm and wait until the fight comes.”

Said Robles: “Dogboe is a real tough opponent. Jessie definitely has to be ready for this fight, and it should be a fan-friendly fight.”

Magdaleno (25-0, 18 KOs) won the world title with a unanimous decision over four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire on Nov. 5, 2016. He has defended his belt once, a second-round stoppage over Adeilson Dos Santos last April. When Magdaleno steps into the ring against Dogboe, it will have been 371 days since the Dos Santos fight.

“It’s been a long training camp, and I’ve been training with some excellent fighters,” Magdaleno said. “I was with {WBO featherweight champion} Oscar Valdez in Mexico, and now, it’s the home stretch. We’re more than ready to get back in the ring.”

The pre-fight drama escalated last month when Dogboe’s father/trainer, Paul Dogboe, told Ghana’s Pulse website: “We hope Magdaleno will not run like a chicken. We hope he makes the weight and comes in with no excuses because we are ready for him. We are ready to eat him like a chicken. We are focused, and our only mission is to devour him, eat the crazy chicken, throw him over the wall of Mexico and present the title to Donald Trump. Magdaleno will run when he sees Isaac.”

Paul Dogboe has since apologized, and Magdaleno is intent on doing his talking inside the ring.
“It’s about experience, staying focused, and doing our job,” Magdaleno said. “Manny keeps me focused on the fight, and that is my main concern.”

Magdaleno-Dogboe will be televised LIVE on ESPN and stream in English and Spanish on the ESPN App at 7 p.m. ET. Undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+, available on the ESPN App, beginning at 4 p.m. ET. ESPN Deportes will air the fight at 10 p.m. ET.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets, priced at $100 (ringside), $65 and $35, are ON SALE NOW and can be purchased at The Liacouras Center Box Office and www.liacourascenter.com, or by calling Peltz Boxing at 215-765-0922.

Adonis Stevenson to Face Badou Jack May 19th in Toronto

Undefeated knockout artist Adonis Stevenson, the longest reigning light heavyweight world champion, will defend his title against two-division champion Badou Jack on Saturday, May 19 live on SHOWTIME from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

The showdown between Stevenson and Jack is one of the most intriguing matches in the light heavyweight division as Jack, a former 168-pound and 175-pound champion, has relinquished his title for the chance to challenge one of the hardest hitters in the sport. Both men are looking to make their claim as the class of the division.

Stevenson vs. Jack is part of a split-site SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT with featherweight champion Gary Russell, Jr. defending his title against mandatory title challenger Joseph Diaz from the MGM National Harbor in Maryland on Saturday, May 19.

Tickets for the Toronto show, which is promoted by Groupe Yvon Michel, Lee Baxter Promotions and Mayweather Promotions, are on sale Friday, April 27 and will be available at www.ticketmaster.ca.
“It is the second time that we will come to Toronto to promote a WBC world championship fight with Adonis Stevenson,” said Yvon Michel, President of Groupe Yvon Michel. “If you found the first event to be spectacular, be sure not to miss the second one as it will be a real firework! Badou Jack is a two-division world champion and an Olympian. He is dangerous and by far the biggest challenge for Adonis since he won the title against Chad Dawson in 2013. We are confident that ‘Superman’ has what it takes to defend his title successfully for the ninth time.

“I would also like to give thanks to our co-promoter Lee Baxter. This event would not have been possible without his collaboration. In addition, I am grateful for Lee and Wayne Zronik from MLSE, who are providing great support for this event and has opened the doors of the Air Canada Centre to us.”

“Mayweather Promotions is looking forward to partnering with Groupe Yvon Michel to pull off this highly anticipated matchup,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Adonis Stevenson has been a reigning champion in this division since 2013. Badou Jack has risen to every challenge he’s faced in his career. Now, he has an opportunity to become a three-time world champion and that raises the stakes for him. I predict two confident, hard-punching and highly skilled fighters will enter the ring at Air Canada Centre on May 19, both determined to walk away a champion.’’

“We are looking forward to hosting this spectacular event at Air Canada Centre,” said Wayne Zronik, Senior Vice President, Music and Live Events at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “It is the first title fight that the venue will host. We’ve worked with this group before to bring world class boxing to the city and are excited for the return of championship boxing to Toronto, and to Air Canada Centre in particular.”

Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) owns one of the most powerful left hands in boxing and goes by the ring moniker “Superman’’. The 40-year-old Stevenson has made eight successful defenses of his title since winning it with a knockout victory over Chad Dawson in 2013. The lineal 175-pound champion most recently defended his title with a second-round stoppage of Andrzej Fonfara last June and delivered a third round TKO over Tommy Karpency in his most recent defense in Toronto in 2015.

“I’m definitely excited and hungry to get into the ring and perform,” said Stevenson. “I’ve trained very hard for this fight against Badou Jack. I’m looking forward to winning this fight by knockout. I’m from the Kronk Gym and we always look for the knockout. Jack is a good, technical boxer. He was a world champion and he has done very well. He’s tough and I won’t underestimate him. I’ll be prepared for anything he brings in the ring.

“I’m fighting him at home in Canada, so I’m looking to give the fans a good show. I’ve got power and I’ve got the best left hook in boxing. I’ve got 12 rounds and I just need to touch you once to end it. It’s not complicated. I don’t need three or four shots. I just need one shot and you’re not going to recover. I’m going to finish you.”

The 34-year-old Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) relinquished his 168-pound world championship following a majority draw against James DeGale in 2017 to move up to light heavyweight. He made a successful debut at 175 pounds by knocking out Nathan Cleverly for the light heavyweight championship last August. Jack then relinquished that title to seek out this challenge against the division’s heaviest hitter. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, a 2008 Olympian for his father’s native Gambia and now residing in Las Vegas, Jack is looking to become a three-time world champion on his opponent’s home turf on May 19.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to fight for my third world title against one of the division’s best, Adonis Stevenson,” said Jack. “I’ve been asking for this fight for a long time and was willing to fight him anywhere, including his backyard. I know he’s good and very dangerous and that’s the reason I want to fight him. I’m all about the best fighting the best and come May 19th, I’m bringing the WBC belt back to Las Vegas. My newborn son, Malik was born just before training camp so now I have two children to fight for, which gives me all the motivation I need to get this win.”

Gary Russell Jr. vs. Joseph Diaz Press Conference Quotes

WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) and unbeaten No. 1 contender Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. (26-0, 14 KOs) hosted a press conference and faced off for the first time Tuesday before their championship showdown Saturday, May 19 live on SHOWTIME from MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

Tickets for the event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions, are on sale now and are available by visitinghttp://mgmnationalharbor.com/.

The Russell vs. Diaz fight is part of a split-site SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast that will feature WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Adonis Stevenson defending his title against two-division world champion Badou Jack in a main event from Toronto presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Russell Jr., a 2008 U.S. Olympian and 126-pound titleholder since 2015, will defend against his mandatory challenger in the 25-year-old Diaz, who represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic games and will be competing in his first title bout.

Here is what the fighters had to say Tuesday from TAP Sports Bar at MGM National Harbor:
GARY RUSSELL JR.

“It’s amazing to be fighting at home. It’s cool to know that the people I see around all the time will be able to get in the car and drive 15 minutes to come watch this massacre. I can’t wait.

“I appreciate JoJo for being honest and saying that he feels I’m the best featherweight in the world. That speaks volumes.

“We stay focused in the gym. The inactivity doesn’t mean anything. It’s no issue. I’ve had hand issues in the past but I’m able to preserve my body and stay sharp, stay focused. I’m a fighter that’s always in shape. I never take a day off. You can ask my wife. On anniversaries, we’re in the gym. On birthdays, we’re in the gym.

“Regardless of what the situation is, you want a sense of financial stability for yourself and your family. I’m at the point of my career where I have maybe six more fights in me. We want to maximize everything. We want to maximize our revenue and it’s been irritating because a lot of the champions don’t want to get in the ring with me. I appreciate JoJo for giving me the opportunity to sharpen my teeth a little bit more. At least he’ll have the opportunity to say he got in the ring with Mr. Gary Russell Jr.

“I’m one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet. Speed, power, ring IQ, we can get ugly if we need to. I don’t plan on going 12 rounds. I’m not going the distance with anybody for the remainder of my career. Mark my words.

“When you have guys that fight and move around a lot, it makes it difficult to get to them the way you want to. When you have a guy that is straightforward and will be in your face, it makes it much easier for me and they’re much more susceptible to get hit.

“A lot of fighters win with pure athleticism because they’re faster, stronger or in better shape. They’re not winning because they have the ability to make the necessary adjustments based on what goes on in the ring. I tell people all the time that boxing is intellect manifested on a physical form. In most cases, the more intelligent fighter wins.

“My father says that whenever you see a fight that is an all-out, knockdown war, it’s just two stupid fighters that didn’t have a plan B or the ability to make the adjustments to make the fight easier. If that’s JoJo’s game plan, it’s going to make this fight a lot easier for me. It’s not going 12 rounds.

“As far as a hit list of my next opponents goes, we are first going to take care of JoJo. I would love to get a unification bout with Leo Santa Cruz after that. If we don’t get that, I plan on moving up in weight and challenging whoever has the title in that division. You want to know who I really want, though? I want Mikey Garcia.

“My last fight will be against (Vasyl) Lomachenko. I want to conclude my career with breaking my foot off of him. That will be the conclusion of it. I’m willing to wait, though. Right now, we’re good.
“Of course I would entertain a fight with Gervonta Davis. We’re cool. He’s somebody that I actually watched grow up and develop as a fighter, but you have to stay in your lane. When I move up in weight, he’s got to get out of the way or he’s going to get ran over too.

“I didn’t want to come home to fight until I had a world title. That’s the reason I didn’t fight at home for so long. Now we have the title, and I wanted to fight at least one more time here.

“I want to maximize our revenue because I don’t plan on fighting for too much longer. I had my first fight at seven years old. I’m 29 now. That’s a long time competing and a lot of wear and tear on your body. I’m a guy that doesn’t cut corners, so it takes away from the time I could be spending with my family and friends. I’m ready to spend time with my family and children and live out the fruits of our labor. But in the meantime, everybody else is in my way. They’re trying to take food off my baby’s plate.”

JOSEPH DIAZ JR.

“I don’t think the fact that I’ve been more active will give me any advantage. I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing and getting the experience I need inside the ring before facing an elite fighter like Gary Russell Jr. My preparation has been good. I’ve fought tremendous opponents and I have all the experience to come out victorious May 19.

“It doesn’t affect me at all fighting in his hometown. I’m happy to fight in his backyard. He’s the champion and that’s what champions get to do. I know what he’s capable of doing. He says I don’t have the boxing IQ or the power and speed that he has, but he’s going to be in for a rude awakening come fight night. He’s going to see that I have all the tools.

“It’s a dream come true to be fighting on this stage. Ever since I roomed with Errol Spence at the Olympics, we always promised each other that once we became pro we were going to fight all the elite athletes and the best champions. Gary Russell Jr. is the best at 126 pounds. I’m not scared to fight him and that’s what Errol Spence did, too. He beat Kell Brook in his hometown.

“Gary Russell Jr. is by far the best featherweight in the world. Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Lee Selby, none of these guys want to fight Russell. They’re afraid of the speed and the counter shots. But I know what I’m capable of doing and I’ll showcase it May 19.

“A win would mean everything for me. It would be a dream come true realizing all of the hard work I’ve put in since I was 13 years old. It would mean that I’m the champion and I’d be the shot caller.

“I think his speed is an obstacle; he’s very fast. But that’s the thing about me, I’m good at adapting to any style that I fight. Come fight night I know that his speed is going to be fast, but it’s nothing that I won’t be able to take, or nothing that will shock me. I’m going to be able to adapt to that speed and make sure I’m able to land my shots when he’s opening up.

“I’m very confident; 100 percent confident I’ll beat him. I know that this is an opportunity that is presented to me and I’ll be victorious. I’ve always prayed to God that I could fight on SHOWTIME and for a WBC title. And now that I am it feels like it’s all settling in and it’s all coming true. I’m working hard every single day, and once I get my hand raised in victory I’m going to go from there.

“If he gets a little bit over confident like he did against [Oscar] Escandon, he’s going to be in for a rude awakening. He’s going to be shocked with not only my punching power, but also with my combinations and with my speed. I’m not like a Jhonny Gonzalez where I’m just throwing one shot, or slow combinations. I’m pretty fast with my punches and you won’t see my punches coming because I throw them very elusive and I punch from different angles. He’s going to be very shocked if he fights the way he fought Oscar Escandon.

“I don’t think it’s going to go the distance. Gary Russell is going to go out there and not back down and give the fight fans a good show, but I’m going to go out there and give a good show and not back down. So I think we’re both not going to back down and we’re going to brawl it out, and let the best man win.”

Sullivan Barrera Expects Bounce Back Performance on Kovalev-Alvarez Undercard

Light heavyweight contender Sullivan “Sully B” Barrera is back in training camp armed with a new fight date and a fresh attitude.

The former Cuban amateur standout admits that not much went right in his March 3rd loss to Dmitry Bivol but chalks it up to an off night and said that it was a learning experience.

Barrera is back with his team but has also added a sports psychologist to his squad in an effort to make sure a repeat of March 3rd doesn’t happen.

“I feel great. I know that was just one bad night. I am not worried about the past and only looking ahead,” Barrera explained.

The plan is for Barrera to return to the ring sometime in the summer on the Sergey Kovalev-Eleider undercard and he hopes to fight the winner next.

“I think the fans know that I always want to fight the best out there. After this fight I want another big fight. My goal is to fight whoever wins between Kovalev and Alvarez,” said Barrera.

“Boxing is like sex. You can be the best lover in the world but sometimes you have an off night. My fiancee knows I am the best even if I don’t perform as well one night. I want to get back in the ring and show the world my best again.”

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Mayweather vs. McGregor PPV Undercard Results: Davis and Badou Jack Win by Stoppage, Tabiti Decisions Cunningham


By: William Holmes

The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada was the host site for tonight’s Showtime PPV attraction between all-time great Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC super star Conor McGregor.

Fight fans were treated to three bouts on the televised portion of the pay per view card, including two world title fights.


Photo Credit: USA Today

The first fight of the night was between Andrew Tabiti (14-0) and Steve Cunningham (29-8-1) in the cruiserweight division.

Cunningham is a former world champion in the cruiserweight division and Tabiti is prized prospect in the Mayweather Promotions stable.

Cunningham had the height advantage and looked to be in great shape. Tabiti was able to stay out of range in the first two rounds, but Cunningham was the more aggressive fighter and forced Tabiti to tie up often. Tabiti’s jab was landing in the second round and he landed a hard right uppercut at the end of a combination.

Cunningham’s punches were missing with increasing regularity from the first round to the fourth round and Tabiti remained an elusive target. Tabiti’s hands were faster and more accurate but Cunningham’s chin was able to take his best punches.

The fifth round featured two blistering combinations by Tabiti in the center of the ring. Tabiti was able to land his jab to the body and head of Cunningham in the sixth round. Cunningham’s frustration with his inability to mount an offensive attack continued into the seventh round.

Cunningham, to his credit, still came forward in the eighth round despite clearly being behind on the cards. He was able to force a few exchanges but Tabiti got the better of them.

Cunningham needed a knockout in the final two rounds to win the fight, but that knockout never came.

Andrew Tabiti remained undefeated with a decision victory with scores of 97-93, 97-93, and 100-90.

Nathan Cleverly (30-3) faced Badou Jack (21-1-2) for the WBA Light Heavyweight Title.

Jack established himself as the more accurate puncher in the first round and was able to do land some good body shots in the opening round. Cleverly looked like the bigger fight and was able to land some hard straight right hands at the end of the round.

Jack continued his body attack in the second round and he was able to land hard right uppercuts in the third round. Jack’s assault was more vicious in the fourth round and he had Cleverly’s nose busted from numerous uppercuts and left hooks.

Jack came out aggressively in the fifth round and obliterated Cleverly from corner to corner. Cleverly was taking several hard combinations without answering back. The referee let Jack batter Cleverly perhaps longer than he should have, but he finally stopped it near the end of the round.

Badou Jack wins the WBA Light Heavyweight by TKO at 2:47 of the fifth round.

Afterwards, Badou Jack called out Adonis Stevenson.

The final undercard bout was between Gervonta Davis (18-0) and Francisco Fonseca (19-0-1). This bout was supposed to be for the IBF Super Featherweight Title but Davis failed to make the contracted weight.

Fonseca looked awkward in the first round and Davis was able to land hooks and uppercuts to the body. Fonseca ate some heavy combinations in the second round but was able to take some of Davis’ best shots and reply with punches of his own.

Fonseca kept a high guard in the second round but had to absorb blows to the body. Davis began to showboat in the fourth round and landed a few left hooks after putting his hands behind his back, but Fonseca connected with enough punches to maybe steal the round.

Fonseca pressed the action in the fifth round and landed some good combinations to the head and body. Davis was telegraphing his punches and may have lost this round solely based on Fonseca’s activity.

Davis stopped showing off in the sixth round and stuck to a traditional boxing stance and was able to land sharp jabs and hard straight left hands. Davis finally stunned Fonseca in the seventh round with hard hooks but Fonseca stayed on his feet.

Davis opened up the eighth round with a stunning straight left hand and had Fonseca stuck in the corner. He connected with a left hook that may have landed on the back of Fonseca’s head, but Fonseca went to the mat holding the back of his head and was unable to get up.

Gervonta Davis wins by knockout at 0:39 of the eighth round.

More Full Coverage: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor

Cleverly vs. Jack on the Mayweather McGregor Undercard Should Shine


By: Eric Lunger

Lost amid the cacophony of coverage surrounding the Mayweather vs. McGregor “crossover” fight this weekend in Las Vegas is an intriguing undercard clash in the light heavyweight division between Sweden’s Badou Jack (21-1-2, 2 KOs) and Nathan Cleverly (30-3-0, 16 KOs) of the UK. While Cleverly picked up the WBA “regular” light heavyweight belt by stopping Germany’s Juergen Braehmer in six rounds last November, the Welsh fighter knows that the Jack fight might be his last shot at reaching the championship heights of the division. In statements to the UK media this week, Cleverly admitted as much. With two close decision losses to Tony Bellew and Andrzej Fonfara on his record, as well as a fourth round TKO loss to Sergei Kovalev in 2013, Cleverly can’t afford anything but a win on Saturday night.

Badou Jack, on the other hand, is moving up in weight class, having held the WBC super middleweight title since defeating Anthony Dirrell in 2015. Most recently, Jack fought IBF title holder James DeGale to a rare split decision draw in Brooklyn in January of 2017. I was at the Barclays Center that night, and I was extremely impressed with Jack. He is a tight, controlled fighter with superb defensive skills. But his offense is accurate, explosive, and he can really generate power on a short throw. How DeGale weathered the twelfth round storm unleashed by Jack is still incomprehensible to me.

So you have a hungry, proud, and perhaps desperate Nathan Cleverly facing off against Badou Jack, a technically sound but underrated power puncher who is stepping up in weight. This is a story line that should produce a riveting bout.
Most likely, you have already decided whether or not to shell out for the Mayweather vs. McGregor PPV, and it is understandable that some fans are not turned off by this cynical novelty show, but – should you decide to buy it – feel free to console yourself with the notion that Jack vs. Cleverly might turn out to be a real diamond.

More Full Coverage: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor

Why Jeffries Came Back for Johnson & Marciano Didn’t for Johansson!


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).

rockymarcianoarticle

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.

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Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Celebration a Big Success!


Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Celebration a Big Success!
By: Ken Hissner

Ray McCline’s idea of creating the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame was a big success over the weekend. Especially on Sunday night with 24 inductee’s before a large crowd at the Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City!

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Master of Ceremonies was the New Jersey Hall of Fames President Henry Hascup who did an excellent job. There were some excellent acceptances starting with legendary matchmaker Don Elbaum’s stories. He has worked in over a thousand shows over the years. “This is incredible. My mentor J Russell Peltz is here and the man I got started Don King!” He went onto say how Jimmy Carter was running for president at the time and how King called him Jimmy and Carter called King “President!” In King’s hometown of Cleveland Carter won big taking not only the black vote but the Jewish vote. King took credit for both! He brought in then Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) for an exhibition to help a children’s hospital.

Hascup first brought up Mike Hall, Jr. whose father Mike was being inducted. He trained world champion Virgil Hill amongst others. This writer saw him earlier and said “it’s good to see you are still alive” not knowing I was talking to the deceased’s son. Another Atlantic City native Bill Johnson came forth whose brother Leavander was the IBF lightweight champion winning in Italy and passed away shortly after a battle in NV losing his title but going out like a warrior! “My brother loved the sport and the people involved with it,” said Johnson. Hascup said “Leavander gave his life for the sport!”

Althea Saunders sang the national anthem. She is still an active boxer from Atlantic City. As expected Larry “The Easton Assasin” didn’t show and “Iron” Mike Tyson didn’t either but was seen via video accepting his induction from AZ. Inductee Ken Condon known for his PPV work talked about being in Barbados when he left his wife upstairs to go downstairs in the hotel to watch Spinks-Holmes II. It caused an obvious argument he said.
Michael Spinks drew the most attention afterwards signing autographs, getting pictures taken by many fans of his and being interviewed. Press members included AC Press writer David Weinberg, John DiSanto of Philly Boxing History, Bernard Fernandez formerly with the Philadelphia News, Joe

Sangrito formerly of Ring Magazine, Frank Bartolini of the Rinaldi Brothers newspaper, Marc Abrams and his beautiful wife, with Abrams doing an excellent job with the PR work for the event. Keebler Media was taping the event and this writer representing Boxing Insider.

Representing his father Lou Duva was Dino Duva still an active manager saying “today would have been my father’s 95th birthday.” Duva put on the first world title bout in Atlantic City with Joey Giardello fighting Dick Tiger. “My father always said never forget your roots,” said Duva.

Accepting for the absent Holmes was one of “Smoking” Joe Frazier’s daughters Weatta.

An emotional wife and daughter of the head physician in Atlantic City was none other than Dr. Frank Doggett. “He graduated from Howard Universities Medical School in 1948 and was chief surgeon for the Atlantic Police and Fireman. He referred to the boxers as his boxers. If he was here he would simply say thank you.”

Nicoli the artist was on hand showing a portrait of Don King which went up for bid with no takers. One of the VP’s of the board who did the electing was Rodnick Green VP Strategy & Business Development for the ACBHOF who proclaimed how another well-known inductee Steve “Double S” Smoger who was inducted into the IBHOF in 2016 helped the kids at the AC PAL! Smoger known to be one of the best speakers in the business talked about how Elbaum ran weekly shows at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino for five years and how he worked many of them as a referee. He has received many awards and is one of the best of all time.

Fan and press favorite writer Jack “KO” Obermayer who passed away approximately a year ago was well represented by Freddy Blumstein one of the best timekeepers in the business who said “my wife curses the day I met KO because I am away from home so much.” Eric Bottjer one of the best well known matchmakers in the business called Obermayer his best friend. Obermayer’s daughter and his partner Darlene, who flew in from Wyoming, saying “he was the love of my life!”

Roy Foreman another VP who managed his brother George and who lives in the area and is now promoting shows in Houston, TX, was well received by the audience saying “without the boxers we wouldn’t be here!”

Mustafa Ameen spoke in behalf of inductee Matthew Saad Muhammad how the nuns found him on the Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Parkway at the age of 4 left there by his brother at his mother’s request due to having too many kids. Saad’s adopted brother Joe Johnson was in attendance. Ameen talked how Saad put up a 10k award if anyone would come forward telling him who would know anything about his identity. As it turned out someone did and told him his real name was Antonio Loach. They appeared on Good Morning America and Saad was not too fond of being called Antonio. Ameem talked of Saad’s religion of being a Muslim. When Saad passed away there was a funeral at a mosque and then at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Saad told me personally during an interview “I’m no longer a Muslim.”

Elbaum spoke how he got King into the business as the first black promoter and took him to New York introducing him to Madison Square Garden’s promoter and matchmaker. King said “they are all white!” Elbaum told him “don’t say that again for we are all Americans adding Kings famous known phrase Only In America!” Elbaum went onto say how Tropicana gave him a two year contract, living quarters and agreed to run every Tuesday night.

Current NJ Commissioner of boxing Larry Hazzard, Sr. did an excellent job speaking of how he spent 13 years in the amateurs working as a referee and becoming one of the tops in the world and becoming commissioner. After leaving office the current governor of NJ Chris Christy brought Hazzard back for his old job.

Smoger talked about starting out as a timekeeper from 1978 to 1982 and starting to ref in 1984 and becoming the referee in a world title fight just two years later. He said how he worked shows for Peltz, King, Frank Gelb and Duva. He gave a large amount of credit to Deputy Commissioner Bob Lee who couldn’t make the event. “He treated me like gold,” said Smoger. He also gave a lot of credit and would expect the next induction to be the then commissioner and former heavyweight champion “Jersey” Joe Walcott. He went onto say except for referee Pat Russell he was the longest serving referee in the country.

Former world light heavyweight champion Mike “The Jewish Bomber” Rossman accepted his award and walked off the stage without saying a word. He had his Local 30 Roofers jacket on and the roofers bought 40 tickets.

Dave Bontempo another inductee spoke well and how ESPN recruited him from AC and how the game has changed since the Atlantic City Press had him cover boxing. He went onto say how boxers like Bennie Serrano became well known fighting at the Tropicana for Elbaum. He added it was 20 years ago today he met his wife Suzie and being married for 32 years.

Peltz, a well-known matchmaker and promoter as well as being one of the few promoters doing his own matchmaking spoke as well as anyone at the podium. He ran shows while attending Temple University at the age of 22 in 1969 and brought in “Bad” Bennie Briscoe on his first show. He said “we didn’t need any med’s in those days only a boxer with a heartbeat or without.” How in 1970 he brought in IBHOF trainer George Benton to headline a show and paid him 1k while the show itself cost $800 to run prior to this. Benton’s manager insisted Benton’s return but Benton was not to be found at the gym he trained so Peltz got another headliner. When Benton showed up with his old yellow suitcase weeks before the event Peltz told him he was replaced because he wasn’t ever in the gym. Benton called his manager Gramby who got Peltz on the phone and said “isn’t your word good enough?”

Peltz remembered that and once brought in Gramby’s prize attraction heavyweight Tex Cobb to headline. He was to get 20k but got a bigger offer of 500k from MSG and Peltz reminded him of “isn’t your word any good?” Cobb fought for Peltz. Peltz said Cobb once said “I didn’t lose to Larry Holmes, I just lost the first 15 rounds.”

Gelb talked about how over 500 shows were run in AC from 1982-85 and how “Russell stole half of my stories.” Gelb’s sons were also in attendance. He said “when the NFL went on strike NBC decided to put on boxing in its place and how inductee Arturo Gatti sold out the Boardwalk Hall six consecutive times. Gatti’s beautiful daughter Sophia was there who was 3 when her father passed away. She spoke well of her father and how blessed she was to have him for a father.

King gave credit to Arthur Goldberg as “his boss who called King the light of the boardwalk starting him off at Bally’s.”

Chuck Zito formerly a Hell’s Angel’s biker accepted for Gatti. “He fought here 23 times and got Fighter of the Year from Ring Magazine 5 times. Bill Johnson talked about his brother winning his first 23 (including a draw) fights. “My oldest son’s wanted to box and the youngest was Leavander.

Former world heavyweight champion Bruce “Atlantic City Express” Seldon and Qawi were two who learned to box at the PAL.

Former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi said “someone saw my work on the streets of Camden and fought with their fists, no guns.” Spinks who defeated him along with being the first present light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight title from Holmes thanked his Lord and Savior. The Lord worked through me and gave him all the honor and glory.

Hazzard had played the part in the Ali movie of Zack Clayton. He thanked McCline and Foreman and gave thanks to his wife Patricia along with their family. “She married me and the sport of boxing,” said Hazzard. “We had 3 fights in one day by USA Boxing, CBS all at different places like the Tropicana and the Boardwalk. Hazzard went on to say “it was better to stop a fight a little early than too late.”

Lindsay Tucker of the IBF spoke in accepting Lee’s award who was President of the first IBF with Tucker saying “Bob couldn’t make it tonight but was elated.”

King would be the final speaker giving one of his shortest speeches. “I started in Atlantic City in 1972 thanks to Elbaum. We had 8 world title bouts in Atlantic City promoted for and about the people. I started at the top with Ali,” said King. He said how current President Donald Trump helped him and what a great job he is doing now as President.

Current mayor Don Guardian spoke to close the event.

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Just How Good was Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson?


Just How Good was Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson?
By: Ken Hissner

Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer rated Jack Johnson as the best heavyweight he ever saw. This writer would have to say he would be in anyone’s top five and possibly as high as No. 2.

Johnson was born in Galveston, TX, in March of 1878, and passed in June of 1946 at the age of 68 while living in Raleigh, NC. His record was 56-11-8 (36) and 15-0-3 NWS. He lost 5 of his last 7 matches between the ages of 48 and 53 when he retired in April of 1931.

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Johnson’s height was 6’0½ with a first recorded weight of 185 in 1902 while the heaviest was 242 in 1916. In title defenses he was 7-0-2. His trainer was Henry “Pop” Blanken. His managers were George Little, Sam Fitzpatrick and Alex MacLean. Johnson was inducted into the IBHOF in 1990 and also inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame. His career started in 1897 and finished in 1931.

Johnson won his first 3 matches by knockout before losing to Klondike Haynes (was black) in 1899 by technical stoppage in 5 rounds due to exhaustion. He would go onto fight Haynes to a draw in 1900 in June and in December stop him by technical knockout in 14 rounds. In February of 1901 he was knocked out by Joe Choynski. In November of that hear he lost a decision in 20 rounds to Hank Griffin. They would fight 2 more times with both ending in a draw.

One of the best colored boxers was Sam McVea whom Johnson defeated in over 20 rounds in February and October of 2003. In April of 2004 Johnson would knockout McVea in the 20th round. In March of 2005 he would lose a close if not controversial bout to Marvin Hart who was suspected to have only vision in one eye. Just 4 months later Hart would win the vacant heavyweight crown stopping Jack Root. Then lose it on his first defense to Tommy Burns.

At the early part of his career Johnson being black was not allowed to fight white boxers which would change over time. In February of 1903 he won the “Colored Title” with a 20 round decision over Denver Ed Martin. One of the best colored boxers was Joe Jeannette whom Johnson fought 5 times. In their first meeting in May of 1905 Johnson W3NWS, In November he lost by DQ in 2. In December he W6NWS and in January of 1906 Won 3 and in March won in 15 in a defense of his “Colored Title”.

In April of 1906 Johnson defeated Sam “The Black Tar Baby” Langford, 32-4-15, over 15 rounds. Johnson being outweighed Langford 185 to 156 ½ knocking him down in the 6th round. It would be year’s later when then world champion Jack Dempsey would say “I only ducked one man and that was Sam Langford.”

In July of 1907 Johnson would knock out former 3-division champion Bob Fitzsimmons, 61-6-4, in 2 rounds. In November of 1907 he knocked out “Fireman” Jim Flynn, 33-8-13, 11 rounds which put him in line for a possible title fight with Burns. In July of 2008 he stopped Ben Taylor, 23-13-3, in the 8th round in the UK.

In order to get a title fight and being the first black to get that chance Johnson’s backers had to guarantee Burns 30k which was double what anyone ever got in a heavyweight title fight. Named “The Little Giant of Hanover” Burns, 42-2-8, was only 5’7″ and gave away 5½ inches in height to Johnson and only weighed 168½ to Johnson’s 194 and with a record of 36-5-7.Johnson stopped Burns in 14 rounds in Australia. It was the Canadian Burns third fight in the country “down under.”

In Johnson’s first title defense in May of 1909 he took on the former light heavyweight champion “Philadelphia” Jack O’Brien, ending in a draw 6 NWS. The decision was received by mixed feelings. Johnson came in at 205 to O’Brien’s 162½. In October of 1909 Johnson defended against Stanley “The Michigan Assassin” Ketchel, 48-3-4, who won the middleweight title in his in November of 2008. In the 12th round Ketchel dropped Johnson who had his hands to his side. Johnson immediately got up and tore into Ketchel knocking him out with a right to the chin. It was said Johnson had 2 of Ketchel’s teeth embedded into his glove from that blow.Johnson weighed in at 205½ and Ketchel 170¼.
In July of 2004 the former unbeaten heavyweight champion James J Jeffries, 19-0-2, who hadn’t fought in 5 years and 11 months while his weight reached 300 came out of retirement. He was more or less forced to come out as a “white hope” to stop Johnson. It lasted until the 15th round when the referee/promoter Tex Ricard waved it off if favor of Johnson after Jeffries was down twice.

Johnson had lived in Spain, Mexico and France. He was fluent in French and Spanish. He fought in those three countries along with Cuba and Canada. It would be 2 years since the Jeffries fight when Johnson returned to the ring. He gave a rematch to Flynn and won by DQ in 9 rounds. Johnson was arrested in 2012 and put into prison over the Mann Act and escaped through Canada and ended up in Paris, France.

In December of 1913 in France Johnson took on Battling Jim Johnson, 20-6-2, who was black and they waltz to a 20 round draw. In June of 2013 Johnson defeated Frank Moran, 21-6-2, over 20 rounds. In April of 1915 Johnson went to Havana, Cuba to fight the giant Jess Willard, 20-3-1. In the 26th round Johnson hit the canvas onto his back. He raised his arms to block out the sun. He didn’t beat the count and Willard became the new champion.

Johnson would move to Spain and score 3 wins. Then off to Mexico for 5 more wins. He would return to Cuba after an absence of 3 years to post 2 more wins. In 1924 he went to Canada to post a win. It would be another 2 years of inactivity when he got a win in Mexico. Just 4 weeks laterin Mexico he suffered his first defeat in 11 years since losing to Willard. He was 48 years old. His 13 fight winning streak was broken. He would lose 5 of his last 7 fights fighting up until the age of 53 when he defeated Brad Simmons, 28-13-3, after having lost to him twice.
Johnson’s career ended after 34 years. After retiring Johnson attempted to train future world champion Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis, but the managers felt it would be a mistake and passed.

As you can see Johnson defeated many men smaller than him. His career really ended with the Willard loss and we will never know if he took a dive or not. He may have been a better boxer prior to winning the title.His arrogance made him a very unpopular champion along with crossing the line marrying a pair of white women. He was without a doubt one of the greatest boxers in the history of boxing.

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The Most Controversial Sporting Event In History: Gene Tunney vs. Jack Dempsey


The Most Controversial Sporting Event In History: Gene Tunney vs. Jack Dempsey

Some contemporary boxers go month after month without a fight. Heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey went years. That’s years. How this was acceptable is a question we modern fans can chew on, but Dempsey’s extended layoff appears to have been at least somewhat accepted in his time. Perhaps the biggest sports celebrity of the 1920s (and let’s keep in mind this was the era of Babe Ruth). Dempsey looks to have been free to literally “go Hollywood” for three years without much backlash from the public. He stared in movies for Universal studios, boxed in exhibitions and married movie star Estelle Taylor. The heavyweight champion of the world was indeed living life in the fast lane.

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Yet at the same time, a son of an Irish laborer from New York City had Dempsey much on his mind. For Gene Tunney wanted Dempsey in the ring, so much so that it was said the man was thoroughly obsessed with the current champ. A former marine, Tunney worked his way up the hard way, accumulating a terrific record along the way. Although today the guy is known as a technical boxer (which Tunney certainly was), the New Yorker also accumulated a very large share of knockouts.

The most telling thing about Tunney, however, was the man’s heart. Tunney fought a total of nineteen times while Dempsey was on hiatus. That’s one short of twenty. In three years. What’s more, Tunney had beaten some of the best fighters out there within that time frame. Dempsey’s former foe Georges Carpentier was one of Tunney’s victims, as was the famous brawler, Harry Greb. Funny thing about Greb, he’s said to have made Tunney the fighter Tunney eventually became. For, after taking a ferocious beating by Greb in his only loss, Tunney came back a more complete, more effective boxer. To be sure, Tunney returned to best Greb four times, three of those times while Dempsey was on his hiatus.

Still, many didn’t give the Irish American much of a chance when he was finally set to face Dempsey in Philadelphia on the 23d of September, 1926. Tunney had come up from the light heavyweight division, which perhaps meant he wasn’t a “true” heavyweight in the eyes of many. Furthermore, this was Jack Dempsey Tunney was facing. Jack Dempsey. The celebrity. The legend. The movie star. The man who went through opponents like a hot scoop through ice cream. To think the guy could be taken out by the likes of Tunney, a man who had ambitions to rise up the social ladder, probably seemed a bit silly.

Maybe people should have given Tunney a closer look before writing him off. Sure, he wanted to use boxing to get ahead in life, but he was also a former marine whose immigrant father had worked as a longshoreman and who himself had worked as a lumberjack. There was also the matter of having come back from a horrible beating at the gloves of Greb. Tunney was no wimp. He was a smart fighter, though. One who was prepared to use a sharp game plan to take down the heavyweight king.

And so, during the ten round bout with Dempsey, Tunney proved to be the smarter, hungrier and perhaps even stronger fighter. To the surprise of many, Tunney put on a performance of defensive wizardry, making an art form out of hitting and not getting hit. After the judges’ scorecards had been read, the world had a new heavyweight champion on its hands. The great Jack Dempsey had been defeated. No great story ends simply, however, and there was to be an historic second act to the Dempsey-Tunney saga. After besting Jack Sharkey in controversial fashion, Dempsey was set to have a second shot at the man who had dethroned him.

The rematch was to occur on the 22nd of September, 1927 – just a day shy of the one year anniversary of the first Dempsey-Tunney match. Well over one hundred thousand people crammed into Solider’s Field in Chicago while the Chicago Tribune claims around fifteen million people were able to listen to the fight live over the radio. To say the match was quite the big deal would be, of course, an understatement. How many matches today cram over one hundred thousand people into a single stadium? How many sporting events of any kind can do as much? Sadly for the fans, though, the second fight looked like a replay of the first one, with the skillful Tunney holding off his man effectively.

Then, however, came the seventh round. That was when Dempsey finally caught Tunney and stunned him. Not one to let an opportunity pass, the former champion whaled away at his former conqueror, sending the helpless Tunney to the mat. That’s when things went from thrilling to downright odd. There was a new rule that fighters had to go to a neutral corner after dropping an opponent. In the heat of the moment, Dempsey understandably forgot that rule and hovered over his fallen prey, ready to pounce. Referee Dave Barry then took it upon himself to direct Dempsey to a neutral corner.

The problem was that, instead of picking up the time keepers’ count – as he should have – Barry started counting on his own, which allowed Tunney to be up at the count of nine. In reality, however, Tunney had been down for well over ten seconds – around fourteen, in fact. To make matters worse for Dempsey, Tunney went on to win the fight, even scoring a flash knockdown himself later on in the evening. By the time all was said and done, both fighters had made it to the final bell and Tunney was once again awarded a decision win.

The one thing Tunney wasn’t awarded, however, was a general sense of acceptance that he had won the second fight. What’s more, even now, with both Dempsey and Tunney having long since passed, the Long Count remains the most controversial sporting event in history.

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The Title Fight That May Have Brought Down A Town: Dempsey-Gibbons


The Title Fight That May Have Brought Down A Town: Dempsey-Gibbons
By: Sean Crose

You don’t hear much about Shelby, Montana these days, though just over a hundred years ago, it was supposedly quite the place to be. “Supposedly” is the operative word here. For the story of the Jack Dempsey-Tommy Gibbons fight, which, if you haven’t guessed by now, took place in Shelby, serves as a warning to those whose big dreams simply can’t compete with hard reality. According to the Los Angeles Times, a couple of local real estate guys from the time wanted to put obscure Shelby on the map. And what better way to do so than to host a heavyweight title fight featuring the great Jack Dempsey, arguably the world’s most famous athlete?

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Of course, these men had good reason to be confident. Shelby wasn’t even a town at the turn of the century. In other words, it didn’t exist. Someone had struck oil in the Montana wilderness, however, and the people and money followed. Hence, Shelby was born. And now it was time to really put Shelby on the map. Or so the thinking went.

Dempsey seemed like a sure bet. It’s easy not to recognize how important a decade the 1920s was for the United States. It was the time when off the rack clothing came into fashion, when cities – rather than farms – became the heart and soul of the country, and when popular culture became important. In a sense, each of us who wants in on the latest celebrity gossip is a spiritual descendent of what’s been called the Jazz Age. And then, like now, celebrities carried weight. Having Dempsey, the heavyweight champion of the entire world, fight in Shelby would turn millions upon millions of heads towards the upstart town.

The problem, of course, was the fact that few things happen overnight. Towns and cities don’t suddenly explode, big bang style, into cultural epicenters. Such things take time, and tend to happen organically. It was a fact the citizens of Shelby were said to have learned too late. Loaded with confidence, the would be investors reached out to Dempsey’s manager, the slick Doc Kearns, with an offer of two hundred thousand dollars to have Dempsey fight in Shelby. To a man like Kearns, it was easy money. Before the citizens of Shelby knew it, Dempsey went from a two hundred thousand dollar payday to a three hundred thousand dollar one.

And that, figuratively speaking, was only the beginning. Roads were to be paved in the rustic town, an enormous outdoor theater which could seat tens of thousands was to be erected. Oh, and Dempsey’s opponent, Tommy Gibbons, would get a total of ten grand for himself, as well. And so a fight was set. Or was one? The investors had a hard time coming up with the money needed for the bout and Kearns refused to announce it. Indeed, Kearns at one point said the bout was off. Finally, the money came through. That was good enough for Kearns. Clearly, however, it wasn’t good for the town. For there was no way Shelby was getting a return on the money invested.

Travel was difficult in the 1920s, after all. And Shelby, Montana was an out of the way place. Air travel was minimal, and automobile travel certainly wasn’t as comfortable as it is today. Sure enough, the best way for the hoped for throngs of out of towners to arrive would be by train. Not knowing if a fight is actually going down or not until the last minute, however, doesn’t make for a good promotion. Dempsey and Gibbons, at least, held up their parts of the bargain, training locally and undoubtedly adding at least some sense of excitement to the disheartened natives.

Needless to say, the fight on July 4th, 1923 was a financial dud. Simply put, not enough people made the trip to Shelby. If that weren’t bad enough, good seats proved to be too expensive for the locals to purchase. Between ten and twelve thousand people ended up watching the fight live that day – a good sized crowd, to be sure. The stadium, however, had been erected to hold forty thousand fans. Ticket prices ended up being slashed and many were said to have watched the bout for free. To add insult to injury, the fight itself was rather dull. Documentary footage of that day claims Dempsey entered the ring protected by Chicago police officers since he had supposedly been threatened the day before. He clearly didn’t need protection from Gibbons.

For Gibbons was defensively minded. That made him hard for Dempsey to land on, though, and so the fight itself dragged on through fifteen rounds. Gibbons didn’t comport himself poorly. He certainly fared better against Dempsey than poor Jess Willard had. The Saint Paul native simply wasn’t good enough to defeat the champ, however, and that was all there was to it. Needless to say, Dempsey ended up pulling off a decision win in the sweltering western heat that afternoon. It certainly wasn’t his most spectacular victory, but it was a victory nonetheless. Besides, a fighter’s first priority is to win, not to dazzle an audience – something contemporary fight writers and analysts might want to be mindful of.

Long story short – money was lost that day. Lots of money – though certainly not by Kearns, Dempsey, or Gibbons, each of whom made out quite well, thank you very much. If anything, the Dempsey-Gibbons bout showed that even the greatest plans can end up being let downs at best, disasters at worse. Dempsey certainly proved he could be a draw. Eighty thousand people had shown up to Boyles Thirty Acres in New Jersey to watch the man fight the previous summer. Another enormous crowd would gather in New York a few months later for the man’s next fight.

There’s more to the fight game than ambition, however. That’s a lesson the people of Shelby are said to have learned the hard way. They certainly wouldn’t be the last to learn it, however. Boxing has a way of swallowing up the less mindful, then absorbing what it can before moving on, like dust in the Montana wind.

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The Great Battering: Dempsey-Willard


The Great Battering: Dempsey-Willard
By: Sean Crose

Jess Willard may not have been a modern heavyweight, but he was certainly built like one. Standing over six and a half feet tall, the guy towered over the competition of his day. Born in the late 1800s, the man known as the Pottawatomie Giant had actually worked as a cowboy and only started boxing pro in his late 20s. Due to the man’s incredible size and strength, he was able to make his mark on the heavyweight division. Possessed of a terrific jab and, according to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, notable speed, the western giant climbed the ranks of the fight world.

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Willard really made his presence felt, however, when he faced champion Jack Johnson in Havana in 1915. Fighting in an outdoor venue in well over one hundred degree heat, the fight was most certainly a grueling, if not exciting affair.

Indeed, a viewing of the bout can be rather monotonous, as not much seems to happen – until, of course, the 26th round, where a single Willard punch sends Johnson down for the ten count. Johnson, who was well past his prime and clearly out of shape, later claimed he took a dive. Willard replied that, if that were the case, he wished Johnson had done it sooner, since it was so hot in the ring that day.

That was Willard. Big, tough, and likeable. The guy went on to hold the heavyweight championship for years, but seems to have been more of a celebrity than a truly active athlete. Willard’s one true successful title defense was against Frank Moran in 1916. Aside from that he performed in – wait for it – Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show (which was quite the big deal at the time). He also did some circus work. In fairness, it’s said he didn’t want to fight while World War One was raging. While Willard was having his moment in the sun, however, a dark and ominous cloud was heading towards his direction.

Jack Dempsey was actually born William Harrison Dempsey in Colorado. A drifter with something of a shadowy background, Dempsey brought what could be described as a new style to fighting. Watching old bouts from the late 1800s onward, there is clearly a change in styles when Dempsey (and also Sam Langford) show up on the scene. Whereas boxing was largely an affair which involved a lot of holding in the early part of the 20th century, Dempsey had no time for such niceties. Oh, a fighter could hold Dempsey if he wanted – but he’d actually have to find a way to contain Dempsey in his grasp first. That was hard to do, as Dempsey was violence in motion, a twister tearing apart all in his path.

If you want to see the lasting influence of the man, look no further than Iron Mike Tyson. Similar hair style. Similar menacing, enigmatic air. Similar ring entrance. Its clear Tyson studied Dempsey and studied him well. Both were frightening customers. Willard, however, was the man to beat as America and the world headed towards the 1920s. With his enormous size, strength and – yes – skill, it’s hard to imagine someone like Dempsey, who wouldn’t even be a heavyweight by today’s standards, giving him trouble.

Yet those who argue that a good smaller fighter can’t beat a good larger fighter haven’t seen the Dempsey-Willard bout. Or maybe they just understand that Dempsey wasn’t just a good smaller fighter, but a great one, and that’s what made all the difference. For Dempsey was more than just an attack dog. He possessed solid defensive skills, as well. On top of that, he was hungry. By the time Dempsey stepped into the ring to face Willard for the heavyweight championship on July 4th, 1919, the man was ready for war. All these years later, it’s safe to assume that the massive Willard had no idea what was coming that afternoon in Toledo, Ohio.

For Dempsey ripped into his man from the word go. He dropped Willard not once, not twice, but seven times in the first round alone. That’s seven knockdowns. Of course, it’s important to remember that back then a fighter didn’t have to go to a neutral corner after his opponent hit the mat. Therefore, Dempsey stood over Willard after a given knockdown, only to viciously bang away again the moment he had the chance. It was brutal stuff, to be sure. Dempsey, however, almost lost the fight. After some confusion at the end of the first round, Dempsey left the ring, assuming he’d won. Needless to say, he had to get back before the referee counted to ten.

After safely returning in time to resume the match, Dempsey proceeded to bludgeon Willard for the next two rounds. It actually says something about Willard’s heart and strength that he was able to endure such a savage beating for so long. Even giants have their limits, though, and after the third, Willard had simply had enough. By refusing to get off his stool, he gave the heavyweight title to Dempsey, a man considerably smaller, but far, far more violent. Reports have survived in popular culture for years that Dempsey did seriously physical damage to Willard that afternoon. While those reports were most likely exaggerated, the brutality Dempsey inflicted on the man is still notable by today’s standards.

There was another rumor concerning the fight, though, one which doesn’t seem to have entirely been put to bed, which is far more disturbing. That rumor? That Dempsey had his gloves loaded that day. If true, what Dempsey did to Willard would literally be a crime. Here’s the thing, though – it’s probably not true. There’s no real evidence out there to strongly suggest or even imply that Dempsey had anything in his gloves that day other than his own potent fists.

The truth is most likely that Dempsey simply caught the bigger man by surprise, in the process laying down a first round thrashing Willard was unable to recover from. Willard and Dempsey were simply two men from different eras of boxing – and Willard’s era was just no match for the one Dempsey helped ring in.

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Don’t Call It A Comeback: Johnson-Jeffries


Don’t Call It A Comeback: Johnson-Jeffries
By: Sean Crose

Jack Johnson was not only the first African American heavyweight champion of the world, he was also quite the character. A freewheeling womanizer, Johnson committed the – at the time – unforgiveable social sin of sleeping with white women. If that wasn’t bad enough for some Americans of the era, Johnson also liked to flaunt his wealth and fame. Stories still abound. My favorite? The time Johnson got pulled over for speeding. He offered to pay more for his violation than was required. The officer pointed this out to Johnson, but the champion replied that all was well – he’d be speeding again on the way home.

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Needless to say, Johnson rankled some notable people, most especially the author Jack London. While London wrote some great stuff, he was not at all happy with Johnson being champion. Sure enough, London called for Jim Jeffries, the former heavyweight champ, to come out of retirement in order to beat the current champion. The thing about Jeffries is that he didn’t seem too eager to fight Johnson. Undefeated as a pro, the man simply appeared to be content in retirement. Still, there was no doubt a lot of pressure for him to face the current champ. There was undoubtedly a lot of money to be made facing Johnson, as well.

And so, Jeffries agreed to the bout. It’s understandable why it may have looked like an exciting match on paper for reasons that weren’t race related. For one thing, Jeffries had been some kind of fighter in his day. A former sparring partner of James J Corbett, Jeffries had gone on to best Gentleman Jim in the ring twice. He had also bested Corbett’s former conqueror, Bob Fitzimmons, twice as well. Word is that when he heard Fitzimmons might wear loaded gloves into one of their matches, Jeffries said that was fine with him – he was going to beat the tar out of Fitzimmons anyway. And indeed, he won the fight.

That was Jeffries….a man who was essentially fearless. Like John L Sullivan before him, however, Jeffries wouldn’t fight an African American for the heavyweight title. Oh, he’d fight black opponents – just not for the biggest prize in sports. One can’t help but get the impression that perhaps Jeffries was bulldozed by the opinion setters of his time. He’d fight African Americans, but not for the championship. He’d long been retired, but then came out and battled Johnson. Whether intentionally or not, the man looks like he may have had a tendency to head in the direction of the wind.

If that were in fact the case, the wind led him in the wrong direction when he signed on to face Johnson on the fourth of July, 1910. The bout was to be held in Reno, Nevada and it was to be an enormous deal. Papers from New York to San Francisco wrote about the affair, detailing the fighters in training and speculating on how the fight itself might go. The promoter, Tex Rickard, the eventual force behind Madison Square Garden, was a force to be reckoned with himself. Not that the bout would need more momentum than it already had.

Jeffries, to be sure, had his work cut out for him. The man hadn’t had a fight in around half a decade. What’s more, he reportedly had ballooned in weight. A good sized heavyweight in his time, Jeffries had apparently tipped the scales at or above the three hundred pound mark since retiring. It was a grueling training camp, no doubt, but Jeffries was able to shed significant weight. What of those missing years, though? Would ring rust be the story of the day?

Perhaps ring rust could, in fact, be blamed for what happened in the Johnson-Jeffries fight, but there’s just as strong an argument that the end result would have been the same. For Johnson dominated Jeffries. Dominated him. The man seems to have never stood a chance, much like Tommy Burns, the former champion who lost his crown to Johnson, never stood a chance. Jim Corbett, Jeffries old mentor and nemesis, was in Jeffries corner for the fight. It was arguable Corbett’s verbal battle with Johnson throughout the bout was more engaging than the bout itself.

For the once indomitable Jeffries couldn’t even land clean on his man. Once again, Jack Johnson made it look easy in a highly publicized battle. Things finally came to an end in the fifteenth round, when Jeffries crumbled on several occasions at the gloves of his clear better and the bout was stopped. People have referred to Jeffries as a great white hope. If that’s indeed how he was seen that July day over a hundred years ago, that hope was dashed in less than an hour’s worth of combat. Johnson was champ and there was to be no denying it.

An interesting take in all this is the behavior of Sullivan, the former champion, who witnessed the bout live and in person. Ironically enough for the man who had arguably created the color line, Sullivan was quick to let the world know that the day belonged to Johnson, that he was an excellent fighter and that he had won fair and square. This does not appear to have been an act of Sullivan hitching his wagon to a star. For there were clearly those who would have appreciated it if he had diminished Johnson’s performance.

Sullivan, though, simply called like he saw it, and was honorable enough to offer praise to where it was deserved. Not everyone would share Sullivan’s belated even handedness, however. London’s writing regarding the bout comes across as both disappointed and resigned – though he too made it clear Johnson was the better of the two fighters that day. Johnson may not have changed hearts by beating Jeffries (not that he had ever wanted to), but he seems to have changed some minds. The days of the Texan’s success being coughed up to a fluke were over. Jack Johnson was there to stay.

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