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Johnson vs Jeffries - Boxing's most important fight !!

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Johnson vs Jeffries - Boxing's most important fight !! Empty Johnson vs Jeffries - Boxing's most important fight !!

Post by TRUSSMAN66 Wed 16 Aug 2023, 12:15 pm

Washington Herald...June 26 1910....."Who will win Jeff or Johnson".............See what they did there ?? The Black fighter dehumanised and referred to by his surname...

Barely 50 years out from Slavery a Black fighter had the audacity to be good at his trade and after following top-businessman and Heavyweight Champion Tommy Burns all around the World to Australia....He became public enemy number 1 by destroying the shortest Man to ever hold the title.....Not just that but his raison d'etre wasn't just beating fighters but mocking them as he was doing it.....Johnson could have got Burns out of there way earlier but his habit of waving and talking to the crowd and conversing with his opponents about the relevant topics of the day tended to prolong their agony....

In a nation that regarded the black man as inferior Johnson was far away the best fighter around.....Powerful Americans still regarded "Negroes" as half a man and he was giving racists an inferiority complex.....Enter James Jeffries....

Jeffries is and was one of the Heavyweight greats......A fighter that traded on his great strength and durability......In his title winning fight against Fitzsimmons rumour has it he entered the Englishman's dressing room before the fight and gave him a "friendly" bear hug after which bystanders commented they saw the blood drain from the three weight World champion's face.........Like Tyson after him Jeffries mainly destroyed former champions during his reign (Fitz, Corbett)  and more than once before getting bored and retiring to his farm....Problem was these wins were years earlier and he was an old 35.

However a frustrated Public at its wits end begged the 35 year old to come back and eventually he relented (50,000 in 1910 is about 1.5m today)......Jeffries and Johnson had met before in a Saloon some years earlier when Johnson busy taunting the then champion who wasn't going to give him a shot was asked If he'd like to go in to the Cellar for a 500 dollar bet with the one that came out getting the money.........Wisely Johnson refused and kept his teeth...(Larry Holmes would not have lasted 2 minutes with Tex Cobb in a cellar either).

Money talks and the fight was set for "Independence day of 1910"...What better way to regain both the title and the respect of the White Man....

Hype was massive and tragic in equal measure.......Former champions such as James J Corbett and O'Sullivan opining the "N***er has a yellow streak".........Johnson himself was more measured and respectful....."I am not foolish enough to think Jeffries will be as easy as Ketchel or Burns. He will be harder to beat.  However he may come back looking fit and strong but you will find he won't be able to stand the strain or show the same speed as of old" (washington Herald)....Jeffries himself opined that Johnson had never fought anyone as big as him and that he would win quickly...

Jeffries was 10-7 favorite in the betting on the day of the fight......Heart ruling head in a fight advertised as the "Battle of the Century"......Taking place in Reno in the mid-day heat..

The Fight ????.....Well it was an anti-climax.....As many intelligent boxing insiders expected the fight played out predictably........Johnson doing little early and sizing the old Champion up and waiting for the 100 degree to take its toll on the giant before exacting a beating.....

Jeffries was a shell and to be honest loses to Johnson in his prime anyway though it would have been a closer fight.......

As expected also the aftermath was just as bloody...........Riots took place with casualties all the way from New York to Texas..Hundreds injured and at least 20 dead....leading to President Roosevelt musing on banning Boxing completely....

There will never be a fight as important as Johnson v Jeffries again thankfully........Sign of troubled times but it was also a time when the Title meant a lot.......Sadly those days have gone for ever too !!!....

Great days...Sad days.....But important days......

TRUSSMAN66

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Post by Derek Smalls Fri 18 Aug 2023, 7:04 pm

Reminds me of when we used to discuss the old -timers a lot more.
Actually, I was revisiting this fight recently thanks to a fine book on Joe Louis written by Richard Bak. It’s received wisdom that Jeffries had nowt left but I had the sneaking doubt that Jeffries ,much as he was a “modern” boxer (Sullivan inevitably being an example of someone who relied on  tactics that would make our eyes water) ,well I can’t see him ever decisioning Johnson.
By the way I see Johnson beating Louis,too.
Derek Smalls
Derek Smalls

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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Tue 29 Aug 2023, 12:22 pm

Derek Smalls wrote:Reminds me of when we used to discuss the old -timers a lot more.
Actually, I was revisiting this fight recently thanks to a fine book on Joe Louis written by Richard Bak. It’s received wisdom that Jeffries had nowt left but I had the sneaking doubt that Jeffries ,much as he was a “modern” boxer (Sullivan inevitably being an example of someone who relied on  tactics that would make our eyes water) ,well I can’t see him ever decisioning Johnson.
By the way I see Johnson beating Louis,too.

I can see Johnson being all wrong for Joe Louis too......I see Tunney being a problem for Louis too...Have a feeling Tunney was better than Conn and Conn should have beaten Louis...

As for John L......Those fights were basically strongman contests.....Corbett changed the history of Heavyweight Boxing..

TRUSSMAN66

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