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Centennial Celebration~4th of July 1919~Jack Dempsey Obliterates Jess Willard

On a blistering hot 4th of July in 1919 before the roaring 20s had a chance to kick off, the young challenger, Jack Dempsey, blistered the giant champ, Jess Willard, with 7 knockdowns Knockdowns in the opening round, a devastation so deadly that has happened in boxing through all these centuries that the officials in charge of the bout literally melted in their moment to become useless. Jack “Doc” Kearns, Dempsey’s manager had foolishly bet $10,000 of Jack’s $27,000 purse on a first round Knockout of the incredibly tough Willard, and of course there was the requisite “Bell malfunction” with the ref becoming so confused as to seemingly signal the bout was over. Dempsey had to be retrieved from his triumphal walk to his dressing quarters to return to the ring for more battle, but sadly the damage to Big Jess was only compounded with interest. Eventually Jess and his corner came to their senses to stop the fight after the 3rd round.

The Backdrop: Before the fight could be made, Willard wisely made Dempsey sign a waiver that his estate would not sue Willard in case big Jess obliterated Jack permanently from the earthly premises, something that had happened against 2 previous opponents. Jess was a wealthy man by then only wanting to look out for his own estate, so not only was it a smart legal move, it also served as an intimidating tool to upend Jack’s confidence in himself.

Jess a mighty man indeed even 100 years later, a 6-7, 240 lb cowboy out of Indian country in Kansas back when men were really men, and that lean, whipcord working man’s physique was naturally attained through much harder and more dangerous work than today’s coddled candied generations can imagine. Dealing with unpredictable, free range, half wild horses and cattle sometimes weighing in the thousands of pounds requires the highest attention, reflexes, instincts, strength, durability, and an outright ornery nature that can scarcely be imagined much less overstated. This weren’t PlayStation.

Now, Jess may not have looked like the stock in trade, handsome Hollywood cowboy, but he could out wrangle all them Fancy Dans, out fight em, and out F em in other ways as well. Poor Jack was a scrawny 6-1, 185 lbs in comparison, as big a physical mismatch as could ever be conceived, giving up 6″ in height and reach and over 65 lbs in weight.

A few rapid fire chops are starting to level Big Jess closer to Jack’s level.

Early in the fight it’s still fun and games for Big Jess who never lacked for any confidence over his formidable physical talents. He was just getting warmed up and sooner or later Jack is gonna pay bigtime.

The fun and games phase has now passed into a fight for Jess’ survival. A Dempsey left hook has clearly caved in the orbital region of Big Jess’ right side resulting in as much pain as a human can endure. His right jaw line is also swollen with some blood running down his chest. It was alleged he broke his jaw. 

Here we see the start of the confusion as Doc Kearns is jumping into the ring thinking the fight is over. As mentioned previously, the Bell malfunctioned, and it wasn’t even electric, a poster child moment for the way the shady boxing business operates when they can’t even get the simplest things right. The ref had to rely on a puny whistle that only got muffled mute from the massive roar out of the monstrous crowd buried in their sea of “strawboaters”, who by the luck of the draw were witnesses to the most destructive bout in history.  Ollie Pecord was the ref of record in his first and this was his only fight as a referee.

After the shockwaves of that bout had finally subsided, Willard injuries were greatly exaggerated by the too often drunken press of the day, and in turn, Big Jess claimed Jack was carrying iron bars or that his wraps were plastered, both points refuted in a court of law in a handsome civil settlement and public apology by Time Inc., the media outlet that published the derelict Doc Kearn’s accusations.

Part of that testimony is certain to include Ring owner and editor Nat Fleischer who was still alive and bore witness to Dempsey’s hand being wrapped publically in his corner.

Longtime Heavyweight contender Cleveland Williams was employed by Boxing Illustrated to test the plaster theory on a hot summer day with 5 rounds on a heavy bag, the result being both he and his manager concluded the steaming mess of crumbles would have proven worthless in a fight.

Dempsey would go on to more big gate records as the most exciting heavyweight in history. Her he was literally pushed out of the Ring by the Wild Bull of the Pampas, Luis Angel Firpo, that naturally caused a lot of controversy because all the Knockdowns that proceeded that moment melts all logical thought processes. It was said that two spectators suffered heart attacks and died that day from all the excitement.

Net result was Jack became the biggest sports name in the Roaring 20s, even bigger than Babe Ruth because the heavyweight title is much more international than baseball. Facts are they once did some gentlemanly sparring and were good friends. On July 4th, 1919 Babe was still a pitcher with the Boston RedSox and making his first big splash with the larger sporting public by setting every new Homerun record the scattered press could conjure up that day. 

Jack stayed relevant on the boxing scene with his boxing themed restaurant next to the old Madison Square Garden where as a 74 year old stepping out of his cab in front of his restaurant, two young thugs with not enough “cents” to know what they were doing attempted a mugging on the elderly gentleman in his finely tailor suit. Jack flattened them and told the cabbie to go in his restaurant to call the police while he kept em down. Even the clowning charismatic Ali had to check out that mighty left hand that left so many down and out.

Anthony Joshua VS Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky, Ali, Joe Frazier, Big George, Larry Holmes, Iron Mike, Lennox Lewis, & Wlad

Anthony Joshua: age 27, 18-0, 18 KO, 44 rounds, 3-0, 3 KO title record. The Josh prime pro career has only just started, yet he is currently the best he’s ever been, so how does that stack up with the best heavyweights ever in a fair comparison, F-A-I-R being the keyword here?

Careful Ref on Josh's Knockdown Follow Through

Careful Ref on Josh’s Knockdown Follow Through

Cross referencing the timelines involved using statistical variables yields the following:

Jack Dempsey 12-1-5, 11 KO 1916, age 19, no contender 5 years before title

Joe Louis 18-0, 14 KO 1935, age 21, no contender 2 years before title

Rocky Marciano 18-0, 17 KO 1949, age 25, no contender 3 year before title

Muhammad Ali 18-0, 14 KO 1963, age 22, one contender Doug Jones 1 year before title

Joe Frazier 18-0, 16 KO 1967, age 23, no contender 1 year before title

George Foreman 18-0, 15 KO 1970, age 21, no contender 3 years before title

Larry Holmes 18-0, 13 KO 1975, age 26, no contender 3 years before title

Mike Tyson 18-0, 18 KO 1986, age 19, no contender 9 months before title

Lennox Lewis 18-0, 16 KO 1991, age 26, no contender 2 years before title

Wladimir Klitschko 18-0, 17 KO 1998, age 21, no contender 2 years before title

My conclusion: Josh whoops all save the possibilities of still green  Joe Louis, Foreman, Tyson, or Wlad getting to him. Josh easily whoops all their comp at that stage with not many of Josh’s comp being whooped by their comp as they build their records on the timeline. Josh represents the new continuation of supersized heavyweights that has taken over the division since the reigns of Lewis and the Klitschkos. His biggest advantage besides size/strength/boxing ability is being a fully mature age 27 in his athletic prime years with unparalleled success, scarcely losing a round. Most of the others were much younger at the same stage and less developed.

These I take to be the protagonists’ best fight showing dominance without controversy or officiating help: Joshua–undefeated Dillon Whyte pretitle

Jack Dempsey–KO champion Jess Willard in a epic beatdown

Joe Louis– KO rematch of 52-7-4 Max Schmeling in the biggest ever fight of the day broadcast by radio internationally to an estimated 70 million radios with uncounted numbers of listeners in dozens of countries gathered wherever a radio could pick up the relayed broadcasts

Rocky Marciano– KO 149-19-8 LH champ Archie Moore

Muhammad Ali– UD 39-4 WBA champ Ernie Terrell

Joe Frazier– UD Undefeated champ Ali in Fight of The Century/Fight of the Year

George Foreman– KO undefeated champ Joe Frazier

Larry Holmes– UD 20-2 contender Randall Cobb
.
Mike Tyson– UD undefeated WBC champ Tony Tucker

Lennox Lewis– UD once defeated 37-1 contender David Tua

Wlad Klitschko– UD undefeated Alexander Povetkin in his homeland of Russia while Russia was engaged in a low level war against Klitschko’s native Ukraine, so political animosity and armament was off the shelf.

Could Joe Louis beat Max Schmeling with the rematch being held in Nazi Germany? We can’t say other to note it was easier to beat Max in Yankee Stadium than to travel to hostile Berlin. Can Wlad beat Josh in front of 90,000 screaming meemies in England’s Wembley Stadium? In two weeks we’ll have that answer.

6-6, 250 lbs vs 6-6, 250 lbs in Black Tees

6-6, 250 lbs vs 6-6, 250 lbs in Black Tees

My conclusion for now: Dempsey, Tyson, Frazier, Foreman, Lewis, and Wlad comprehensively whooped better fighters than did Josh, and certainly Rocky also by the legendary status of Moore who might well whoop Whyte also even if a bit of a stretch size and age wise. Whyte vs Terrell or Cobb would be good 50-50 scraps. I could go into the 2nd and 3rd best bouts showing dominance, but this project just a short refresher of the historical timelines of these fighters, and by the end of his career, Josh surely will have many more scalps in comparison. Thing is, if Josh whoops Wlad in his upcoming, bingo, now he has a comparable victory to Frazier.

Finally, let’s look at where the fighters were at age 27 as Josh currently is.

Jack Dempsey age 27, out of boxing for that year, title record 4-0, 4 KO.

Joe Louis age 27, beat Buddy Baer, Billy Conn, Lou Nova, Buddy Baer rematch, Abe Simon, all title fights before being inducted into the Army for 3 yrs. Title record of 22-0, 19 KO.

Rocky Marciano age 27, usually by KO beat Tiger Ted Lowry, Bill Wilson, Keen Simmons, Harold Mitchell, Art Henri, Willis Applegate, Rex Layne, and Freddie Beshore, all pre-title fights the year before his title with Rex Layne being his first Ring ranked scalp.

Muhammad Ali age 27, in boxing exile up before the US Supreme Court for judgement with a title record of 10-0, 8 KO.

Joe Frazier age 27, BTFO out of Ali in FOTC/FOY. Title record 8-0, 6 KO.

George Foreman age 27, KOed Ron Lyle, Joe Frazier, Scott Le Doux, and Dino Denis at the start of his comeback from Ali loss, title record of 3-1, 3 KO.

Larry Holmes age 27, beat Tom Prater, Horace Robinson, and Fred Houpe, all unranked pre-title fights 2 years before his title.

Mike Tyson age 27 incarcerated on bogus rape charges arranged by DKing. Title record of 10-1, 8 KO.

Lennox Lewis age 27, beat Razor Ruddock and then Tony Tucker for his first title(vacated by Big Dummy Bowe)

Wlad Klitschko age 27, beat a couple of minor fringe contenders looking for his 2nd title, title record of 6-1, 5 KO.

My conclusion: Ali and Tyson were unavailable, but more proven and would be the favorites. Rocky and Holmes were too poorly tutored to beat Josh if ever. Lewis was near the same unproven stage as Josh, but Dempsey, Louis, Foreman, and Wlad were more proven and have excellent chances of knocking Josh out with Josh being the underdog. As much as I love Frazier, this a bad size and style matchup for him that I’d pick Josh over in spite of Frazier being more proven. Lewis knocking out washed up versions of Razor Ruddock and Tony Tucker yields no confidence in him as he always looked ready to faint when entering the ring. Josh in comparison has the Eric Molina defense to take him to a 3-0, 3KO title record, and he’s coming up on the Wlad challenge, so he has 7 more months to make his 27 year old destiny.

In summary: Josh is up there by many measures in his current form or has surpassed many on this list at the comparable timelines, most particularly at the comparative 18-0 marks. He still has quite the gauntlet to traverse before being mentioned with the upper echelons of greats as I’m sure most already instinctively know.

The Tyson Fury Show Makes American Debut

The widely acclaimed and equally reviled British heavyweight, Tyson Fury, makes his American network debut with a delayed Showtime broadcast from historic York Hall at Bethnal Green, London.

Rich Super Power vs Tyson Fury

Rich Super Power vs Tyson Fury

The undefeated, 12-0, 9 KO, Rich “Super” Power is the emergency replacement after previous selections fell out. This will be Power’s 4th bout this year, his last being 6 weeks ago, so he’s been an active fighter. Weighing in at a career low 221lbs, Power looks like he’s been in training as most fighters should be in case an opportunity of a lifetime comes along. At age 30 with a total of 26 rounds in the bank in 12 fights, it’s safe to say that Power counts on power as the defining element of his arsenal.

With an almost identical record of 11-0, 9 Kos, on paper it may seem they are equally matched prospects, but the 22 yr old Fury has been in with considerably stiffer competition, winning his first belt when he beat Big John McDermott for the English title last year and defending it with a knockout in the rematch this year.

Tyson's Fury

Tyson’s Fury

Fury comes from a longstanding family of Irish Travelers whose bareknuckled genealogy goes back a ways. His father, John Fury, also was a gloved boxer for a spell and apparently has the biggest influence in calling the shots in his son’s career. In short, Fury was destined from birth to be involved in some form or another of the Fury family fighting tradition, and made quite a splash with the public from the point of his debut forward.

As one of the most well known British fighters, on that front alone the Fury express has been quite the success story. He struggled mightily with hand problems and a new trainer after winning the English title, but may be righting himself by returning to his original trainer, his uncle Hughie I believe, with the result being his signature fight to date, the knockout of McDermott in a rousing rematch performance.

Not much is known of Power who’s largely been confined to small club fights in Michigan, but Tyson Fury’s bouts have all been televised, so it’s easy to pick up his strengths and weaknesses as a fighter.

He was born premature as the story goes, a single pounder who grew into a massive 6-9 stature, weighing in at 263 lbs for this fight. He’s always had a soft, poorly conditioned look to him, yet handled the 12 round Championship distance in the first McDermott fight as the stronger man at the finish, and he moves well with fast hands for such a big man.

As an offensively styled fighter, he gives plenty of openings for his opponents, but his chin has proven to be sound at this level and nobody has really been able to exploit any of his defensive lapses to hurt him and take away his bread and butter offense. Of course, the most damning evidence of a glaring weakness is the youtube clip of him almost decking himself with his own uppercut, something his critics have howled in delight over.

Fury is a very brash, but very amiable young man very much full of himself in a compelling, charismatic way that draws much attention to anything he does. With a twinkle of the mick in his eyes, he reminds me a bit of the playfulness of a young Cassius Clay who could say the most outrageous things that only piqued public interest.

Fury of course has quite a climb just to reach the foot of the pinnacle the legendary Ali rests on, but he’s one of the most interesting heavyweight prospects in some time, so I thought him worth a shout for anyone trying to find a ray of hope for the future of the heavyweight division.

Fury only recently horned his way into the announcement that David Haye would be defending his WBA title against Audley “A-Force” Harrison in an all British showdown, calling the match “a farce.” Perhaps more prophetically, he opined, “I’d definitely put up a better fight (against Haye) than Harrison. I reckon I could beat Audley Harrison, to be honest. But it’s about getting the chance to prove it.”

If Audley lands another Sprott Hail Mary on the vulnerable chin of Haye, does this mean a Fury defense could be the trump card of the fickle finger of Fate early next year?

Veeerily interesting me thinks, but first things first for young Fury.

Somebody is gonna have to knock Fury off his perch to put a dent in his climb, so is Rich “Super” Power that fighter?

Stay tuned for the results.

Putting the !POW! in Power

Putting the !POW! in Power

R.I.P. Memorial to Mac Foster

http://www.fresnobee.com/2010/07/19/2011397/former-pro-boxer-from-fresno-dies.html#ixzz0uALB7jha

Mac The Knife, AKA “MacArthur” Foster, owing to his patriotic father’s christening as an admirer of General Douglas MacArthur, the two tours of Vietnam combat duty ex-marine, and former heavyweight contender Mac Foster passed on yesterday at age 68.

Standard abbreviated obit essentials and final Ring stats of 30-6, 30 KO don’t do the man justice. He followed his own muse and was his own force of nature, widely respected in his spheres both in and out of the ring.

Foster  joined the Marines after fine high school athletic achievements fielded him a scholarship offer to throw the discuss and shotput at Fresno State University. After his honorable discharge from the Marines, the popular, affable Foster launched his pro career, becoming a self promoted legend by winning all the fights by KO, usually not needing more than a few rounds, so soon enough the world stage beckoned.

Look Out, 20-0, 20 KOs!

Look Out, 20-0, 20 KOs!

Of course everything has a beginning, and Foster’s beginning was as a young Marine stationed in Tokyo attending service bouts where he boisterously shouted out a challenge to one of the Marine fighters. Weeks later his commanding officer scheduled him a day off in Tokyo after ordering him to fight the Marine. A day off in Tokyo for a young Marine was like a vacation in Disney World for a kid, but he was quickly exposed to boxing’s storied underbelly when he found himself fighting an experienced Army fighter instead. After having his ears boxed off he landed a left hook and knocked his “inter-divisional” rival out, the rough beginnings of a 20-1 amateur service record, 17 by KO with the one loss highly contested.

This limited experience was the platform that he launched his pro career from, fighting hometown and local west coast matches in a popular era for boxing. Because of his formidable KO record and reputation, it was difficult to get name fighters in the ring, but one day he got an offer to spar with Sonny Liston who was preparing to fight Henry Clark.

Mac went in completely untested at world class level and hoping to hold his own against the still frightening Liston, but the first left hook he landed left Liston sagging on the ropes and with a right hand he was ordered to land by Liston’s manager, Dick Saddler, he knocked him face first to the canvas.

Poor Liston didn’t have anyone looking out for his interests that day.

Reputation growing, Foster did manage to lure in Thad Spencer and later Cleveland Williams twice for the fatal results. He was poised for a title fight against champion Joe Frazier, but had to clear one more hurdle. He had to go through Jerry Quarry, another popular California fighter out of the same era who’d already challenged Joe Frazier in 1969’s Fight of the Year and had been in against the best and mostly come out on top, as severe a challenge as any title aspirant ever had.

Foster entered 24-0, 24 KO, a perfectionist’s perfect record. Joe Frazier was on a tear and was building up for his 1971 epic Fight of the Century with Muhammad Ali to give context. Mac could beat Ali to the Frazier alter with a win over Quarry, but big Mac was cut down to size by the Irish Bellflower who made a habit out of cleaning the clocks of his era’s contenders. After targeting the body with a series of left hooks, Quarry knocked Foster down for the first time in his career and then finished him off by knocking him through the ropes, one of Quarry’s finest fights ever.

This Ring Cover sums up the bout perfectly after all the action had ceased, the perfect denouement flash moment to the fight.

Elevated Flight!

Elevated Flight!

Foster, however,  had turned pro with the expressed intent of whupping the jinn out of Ali who stood against every thing Foster cherished, of being a Christian and patriotic combat Marine who took grave offense at Ali’s “draft dodging” and his statement that “It takes more courage to face a man in the ring than to face bullets.”

So Foster got his wish in his home away from home, Tokyo, Japan when he challenged Ali in what could best be described as an unofficial 15 rd eliminator for the right to challenge Joe Frazier. Foster had never needed more than 8 rds to dispose of his opposition, and usually much less than that, and now he was going up against in my opinion the finest version of Ali who ever existed in the ring for the full 15 rd championship distance.

Foster was never gonna win a decision against Ali, but he was awkward and gave Ali hell for 15 rds, and fairplay, Ali is seldom given proper credit for standing up to the outrageously powerful arsenal of Foster, but he did even if he was dragging at the end as was Foster.

That year, 1972, Ali was 6-0, 4 KOs against Mac Foster, George Chuvalo, Jerry Quarry, Al Blue Lewis, Floyd Patterson, and the other era Foster, Lightheavy champ Bob Foster, so Mac was in some mighty elite company knocked off by the soon to become Ring Legend.

The Ali loss led to a sea change in Foster’s career. His weight balloons and his power deserts him as he goes into later rounds losing decisions against respectable journeymen he was knocking out the year before.

He retires to move on with his life as a local icon active in his community. Perhaps with better management and more grit in the face of the Ali loss, Mac Foster could’ve secured that cherished title challenge that was denied him, but he always accepted the cards that Fate dealt him and knew the timing was just a little off for him, after all, he was in the middle of the most hallowed heavyweight era in the world where Ali, Frazier, Foreman, and Norton were the gilded era fighters of record.

With an incalculable assist from Jerry Quarry, another warrior no longer of this world who said Foster hit him harder than he’d ever been hit before, Boxing wouldn’t be the legendary sport of Kings without these noble fighters throwing in against the best.

God bless and thanks for all the upsets, drama and intrigue. Their fighting spirits live on in another place a few universes down the road somewhere. Perhaps some day all will be reunited for another go of a new storied era.

Perhaps…….