Thursday, July 4, 2019

Fight Should Have Ended in One Round -- July 4, 2019

New York Evening World, 05-July-1919
100 years ago today, on 04-July-1919, heavyweight champ Jess Willard, the Pottawatomie Giant, defended his title against Jack Dempsey, the Manassa Mauler, in Toledo, Ohio.

New York Evening World, 05-July-1919


No Fighter Ever Worse Beaten Than
Willard -- Expert Declares Battle
Should Have Been Stopped Earlier
-- Most One-Sided Championship!
Bout Ever Staged.
By Robert Edgrcn

Copryright,1919, by the Press Publishing Co. (The New York Evening World).
Fighting with the fury of a bulldog tearing down a mastiff, Jack Dempsey knocked out Jess Willard here yesterday afternoon in one round. The second round never should have been fought, and never would have been fought but for a series of amazing blunders caused by having amateur officials. Technically, the knockout was scored at the end of the third round, when Ray Archer threw the towel into the middle of the ring, with Willard terribly beaten and helpless in his corner, one eye completely closed.

It was the most one-sided fight for a title ever seen in any ring. Willard, smiling and apparently confident, landed the first two blows before Dempsey went into him like a thunderbolt. Half a minute later the biggest of all champions was a reeling, battered hulk, dazed, smashed out of all resemblance to anything human. The effect of Dempsey's blows was startling. They landed so fast the eye could hardly follow the flying gloves. At each crunching, crashing clout Willard's face was changed as if Dempsey were a sculptor dissatisfied with a portrait in clay and deliberately obliterating it, feature by feature. Cuts and huge bruises showed every time Dempsey's hand snapped back to position for another drive. Carl Morris, in Madison Square Garden, in the tenth round with Flynn -- Battling Nelson in the fortieth round with Wolgast at Port Richmond -- were no, more terribly beaten than Willard in a single round with Dempsey.

Whether it was a one-round fight or three, Dempsey has shown the world that he is one of the most remarkable fighters that ever clouted his way to a championship. He is of a new type. They were right when they called him a "bone crusher." He fights like no other champion ever did.


Beside his action in a real fight, his training work was merely play. He was cool when the fight actually started. Terribly grim and determined, he was like a bulldog taking his grip, never to be shaken off. His speed was startling, and his attack so sudden and furious that nothing could stop it. Yet when Willard rallied for a moment Dempsey stepped toward him. Panther-like, he feinted and stepped aside to make Willard follow and leave an opening. He was not simply a plugging, battering fighter -- he was cold, calculating and sure of the effect his blows would produce.

The great arena began to fill early in the day. Airplanes flew about overhead. Hundreds of flags fluttered in a sharp breeze. A big observation balloon hung over the stands at the end of a steel cable. Cars tolled down the single road of approach and masses of spectators walked in straggling column. The big park around the arena was covered with refreshment stands. It looked for all the world like the infield at the English Derby.

Inside the arena the great crowd was in its shirt sleeves, broiling under a sun that glared down from a sky of polished brass. The heat was terrific. Hardly a bit of air was stirring In the great bowl. Thousands stayed under the stands until the big event was about to go on. Tho preliminaries were hardly looked at in the tense excitement of waiting for the main event.

At 3.30 P. M when the fighters were to have been in their corners, Major Biddle appeared with his marines, with guns and bayonets, and gave an exhibition of bayonet and knife fighting that was tolerated by the waiting crowd, impatient for the appearance of the men they had come to see. Tbe Major took part In various exhibitions himself, explaining hoarsely that he had invented some marvellous fighting stunts and then demonstrating. He was always last on his feet, while the marines were strewn around the ring and tho moving picture cameras clicked merrily.


The crowd grew restless while the Major posed. At last that was over, and just four minutes before 4 o'clock Dempsey stepped into the ring, accompanied by his training staff, who were to second him. Dempsey was pale under his deep coat of tan. His face looked drawn, and he was evidently under an intense nerve strain. But he took his corner immediately and sat down, while Bill Tate raised a big green umbrella to protect him from the sun.

Within a few seconds Willard came into the opposite corner and stood leaning against the ropes. Like Dempsey, Willard was pale. Close to him, I saw that the "goose flesh" showed on his legs, and when he stood still there was a slight twitching of the muscles of his thighs. I could see the throb of his heart under the tight drawn skin that covered his ribs. He stood in the corner, looking around over the crowd, and In a moment the signs of nervousness disappeared. A sun shade was raised over him, too, and he stood there at ease, leaning against the ropes and looking around the ringside, to nod and smile at his friends. Willard was a picture of a trained athlete On the outside, at least, he was a perfect specimen ot a man.

In the huge arena all was so still that you could have heard a pin drop. There wasn't even the click of a telegraph instrument or a typewriter, as all strained to see the two men who were about to meet for the championship of the world. After a moment, Willard walked lightly across the ring and offered his hand to Dempsey, who was still sitting in his corner. Willard was smiling -- he always smiles. A smile is his natural expression. Dempsey looked up grimly and shook hands without a word. Willard went back. Then they came out again and stood side by side while the cameras were snapped and the moving picture machines clicked. Willard towered over Dempsey, but Dempsey didn't even look up at him as they shook hands again.


Facing Willard squarely, he kept his head lowered and his eyes staring straight at the middle of Willard's body, as if he was concentrating every thought on striking at that spot the moment the fight began.

There was a striking contrast between the men. Willard, huge, fair skinned, slightly browned by the sun, smoothly muscled, might have been some ancient Greek Apollo come to life. He was still smiling his friendly smile. Confidence, smooth, smiling confidence, radiated from him. He seemed pleased that he was about to give an exhibition of his skill.

But Dempsey was entirely different. He was the fighter, from the squarely set feet of him to the lowered head and scowling brow. He was burned black by the sun, like some fighting aborigine from some strange savage land under the Equator. He was indescribably grim, unsmiling. He stood squarely facing Willard, legs slightly spread, broad shoulders hunched, arms drawn up as if he was already preparing to launch the blows that were to beat Willard down, eyes staring straight ahead. Willard had smiled around at the crowd. Dempsey saw only one man, and that was the man he must beat. It seemed to me that he didn't even listen to the instructions of Referee Pecord, and that he went to his corner reluctantly to await the ringing of the bell that was to begin the fight.
At last they stood there in opposite corners, Dempsey was still staring straight at Willard, head lowered. Willard was staring at Dempsey. eyes drawn to narrow slits. The smile was gone.

And then came comedy. Warren Barbour, timekeeper, had been sitting by the bell. A $500 stop watch was on tho board before him. He was ready, but being an amateur timekeeper It had never occurred to him to see if the bell would ring. Pecord nodded. Barbour reached out a fine hand and pulled the bell cord, at the same time starting his watch, while the two other official timekeepers started theirs with htm.


The bell gave out a feint (sic - JT) little tinkling sound. The fighters, poised there in their corners, waiting, didn't hear it. Referee Picord didn't hear It. Barbour pulled the cord again, and again the old traditional "clang of the gong" failed to come. There was another little tinkle.

Picord, hearing nothing, waved his hands impatiently. The fighters, leaning forward and balanced to start swiftly from their corners, shifted their foot and looked around. Barbour tried to work the gong. Experienced old timers all around his side of the ring were shouting: "Get a hammer." But nobody had a hammer concealed about his person.

Again the gong tinkled, and this time the fighters heard it and started toward each other, but Picord rushed between and waved them back. He knew well enough the gong didn't make enough of a sound to be heard at the end of the round. Pulling a whistle, Barbour tapped the tinkling gong, blew the whistle and started his stop watch all at the same time.

The fighters leaped from their corners and the fight was on. In an instant they were together.

Willard jabbed Dempsey twice. The champion was standing straight up, smiling again, and starting easily. He didn't put much behind the jabs and Dempsey hardly noticed them. Dempsey was crouching and moving swiftly. As Willard advanced, Jack turned and stepped swiftly away to draw Willard on, turning like a flash to meet him. Willard stopped. Again Willard stepped forward, and Dempsey turned half away, only to whirl and slip close under Willard's left arm, and drive a terrific right hook to Willard's side, just over the heart. Instantly Dempsey stepped away. Over Willard's ribs a round red mark showed where Dempsey's crushing blow was landed.

Annoyed, perhaps, because his careful guard had failed, the big champion stepped forward a pace and missing a jab, followed with a short right that landed lightly and didn't move Dempsey's lowered head back an inch.


Twice more Jess jabbed and tried a short right as they closed, but without hitting Dempsey effectively. Dempsey swiftly turned away, flashed back, and leaping in drove a solid right squarely into the pit of Willard's stomach before the big fellow could make a move to defend himself. The blow brought Willard up standing, and in an instant, while their bodies Were almost touching, Dempsey whipped that curving left overhand blow over Willard's lowered arms and caught him on the right eye. It was the same blow that stunned Fulton and made him easy for a first round knockout.

It didn't put Willard down, but it settled the outcome of the fight then and there. The effect of it was as if Willard had been struck with a hammer. His eyebrow was gashed, and in an instant the eye and the whole side of his face puffed out of shape.

Then Dempsey cut loose with the full fury of his attack. He no longer turned deftly to avoid Wlllard's punches and draw him on. Standing close, toes square to the front, balanced on both feet and leaning in, he hit as fast as he could, with both hands. The gloves crashed on body and jaw.

Startled, amazed, 50,000 spectators gasped at the sight of Willard beaten back along the ropes, beaten across the ring, reeling, trying with bulk and strength to stand up before that cyclonic, furious rush. Willard was beaten down like any one of the twenty men Dempsoy has knocked out in a single round. The champion was being beaten down. He was reeling backward, weaving from side to side as no Fitzsimmons and no Ketchel over weaved. Shifting lightly, Dempsey at last threw all of his splendid youthful strength into a crashing right. Caught squarely on tho chin, Willard fell with a thud. His right eye was closed, His left was popped wide open In stunned realization that at last he had been knocked down, that a referee was counting over him, that he was being knocked out of the world's championship.

Dempsey stood back not dancing, not eager, but excited. Pecord counted seven and Willard pushed his great bulk up from the floor and was on his feet. But he was no longer towering. He was bent over, crouching, reeling back and Dempsey was after him, driving blow after blow, taking no blows in return, grim fury in his set face and scowling brows, the power of a kicking mule in his flying fists.

Wlltard was tossed back by blow after blow. Nothing human could have stood against the storm. He was game enough, but what good was gameness when every blow threw his head back until his neck nearly snapped, and his huge hulk shook like an oak with the woodman's axe at its roots.


Willard went down again, and again, and each time he touched the floor he rose more slowly and heavily. The first knockdown was in Dempsey's corner. If the spots where Willard fell were cut from that ring canvns ther'd be little left. At the end of the round he was down in another corner, and the count had reached seven again when timekeeper Barbour blew the whistle and tinkled the gong desperately and every one near Barbour shouted to Pecord the time was up.

Pecord waved Dempsey to his corner and stopped counting. Men leaped into the ring from overy side. Seconds reached Willard and dragged him, half conscious, to his chair, to work on him frantically. Pecord followed Dempsey and laid a hand on him, and Jack Kearns, wildly excited, exclaimed to Dempsey that it was all over.

Dempsey looked around and stepped from the ring to run to his dressing room, The whole crowd was on its feet. Men were in the ring. Willard's seconds were trying to revive him. Pecord was trying to clear the platform. Barbour, eyes on his $500 watch, tinkled the bell and nobody heard it. He blew the whistle. In the roar around the ring, that was lost too. Pecord, running around, was shoving every one out of his way. Confusion everywhere excent in Willard's corner. There faithful Jack Hempel and Walter Monahan were working hard to revive the champion, and Willard, smashed, bloody, stirred to consciousness and sat up. Smelling salts was shoved under his nose.

Some one flagged Demnsey. who rushod back into the ring. Barbour was tinkling the bell and blowing the whistle and waving to Pecord.


The second round was beginning, and still Willard sat in his corner, and Dempsey, just back in the ring, stood irresolutely, hardly knowing what to do, and so, when more than two minutes had elapsed since the fallen champion was dragged to his corner, Willard stood up and walked unsteadily across the ring, hands in position ready to fignt again.

A man beside me, an oficial, was shouting, "the boob, the big boob." But Willard wasn't a boob. He was a whipped champion, who hadn't been counted out, who was ready to fight again. He went to Dempsey, and Dempsey met him with furious blows, trying desperately to put him down.

To the amusement of the crowd Willard refused to fall. His head was driven back nnd his distorted face became more distorted under the punishment, hut he wan going in. His one open eye glared with desperation. He crouched and hit with all the strength that was In him. Otto Floto, a Dempsey man on my right, shrieked "They'll get Jack licked. They'll get him licked" Wlllard's uppercuts drove Dempsey's head back again and again as they came together. Willard jabbed and hit as best he could, but the strength had gone out of him with the terrific batterlng of thn first round.


There wasn't a knockout in his big arm and solid fist, no matter how he landed.

I have said that Dempsey was over-trained. There's no doubt about it. Under the mauling and the strain of trying to put Willnrd down to stay he weakened and Willard began to fight better. It even seemed possible that through sheer desperate courage he might recover, but he was in fearful shape, his right eye closed, the whole side of his face puffed out.

His mouth opened as he gasped for breath. Dempsey steadied him again, sidestepped and turned away, only to flash back with deliberate blows that shook Willard no matter where they landed. Willard was desperate now. He felt the championship being torn from him. Hr know his only chance was to land one blow that might put Dempsey down, and he tried.

With all the heart that was in him, walking In without defense, hitting wildly, landing now and then, but almost always being driven back by Dempsey's faster travelling fists, he was hurled on the ropes, to hang there while Pecord begun to count again, for Wlllard's arms were down and his gloves on the floor. It seemed impossible for him to recover this time, but he did, and at the end of the second round Willard was fighting still. He caught Dempsey with a hard left on the jaw, and Dempsey's knees bent. He caught Dempsey with rights, straight rights and uppercuts. Dempsey was weary of putting that huge bulk down.

There was one minute's rest after this round. Barbour blew the whistle and Willard came out, a pitiable signt, to meet tne worst that Dempsey could do to him. I'll say that whatever else Willard may be, he is game.

Jack Dempsey has Indian blood in his veins, quartered with the Scotch and Irish, but I think that he pitied Willard and tried to end the fight without hurting him any more. He started this time with the deliberation, there was only cold calculation in the blows he struck. Perhaps like Fitzsimmons he thought a knockout the most merciful thing. Again and again he landed clean punches on Wlllard's chin and Willard, who had rallied, slowly lost his spred and could only paw out blindly. Dempsey had him in a corner, and with tne utmost deliberation measured him for the knockout blow. When he landed Willard held his feet. He lunged forward and struck out with all the strength he had, still trying to put over one hard blow,

Dempsey hammered him back and followed close. Willard was a fearful sight. It was then, I think, that his jaw was broken. Reeling around the ring, he sunk finally under a storm of blows, to sit on the floor looking up at the grim destroyer who stood looking down at him. There was no joy In Dempsey. He was just plain fighter, a victorious bull dog who would have had more expression, and then the round ended.

Again Wlllnrd was helped to his corner. His seconds were around him with smelling salts and all the rest of it, and the crowd around the ring was shouting to Pecord to "stop It." Pecord might have acted if Willard had come up again, but Ray Archer, his friend and adviser, turned and tossed the water soaked, blood stained towel of defeat into the middle of the ring. The fight was over and JacK Dempsey was champion of tne world.

This time Dempsey stayed in the ring, while a mad rush of admirers tore down the press benches and overturned the writers who sat at them. Willard, reeling to his feet, walked heavily across the ring to where Dempsey stood, reached out and took tne new champion's hand He tried to smile.

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