1889-08-27 (160lbs+) George LaBlanche w co 32 Nonpareil Jack Dempsey, California AC, San Francisco, California, USA

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1889-08-27 (160lbs+) George LaBlanche w co 32 Nonpareil Jack Dempsey, California AC, San Francisco, California, USA. Referee: Hiram Cook. Contested in four-ounce gloves, and felt by some in later years to have involved Dempsey’s title claim, it was announced by the Master of Ceremonies before the fight with LaBlanche (161) got underway that it would not involve the championship or the belt, just a purse. This was due to the French-Canadian being unable to make the required weight of 154lbs. Until the finish it was nearly all Dempsey (151), who jabbed and moved out of danger well while continually working the body. When Dempsey scored a knockdown in the 18th he looked a sure fire winner at that stage. Although the Irish-American continued to box well the fight came to an abrupt end in the 32nd (also variously reported as the 30th and 31st) round when LaBlanche, under pressure in a corner and facing the crowd, suddenly pivoted with great force to land solidly on Dempsey’s nose. The punch had a devastating effect, and with Dempsey unable to get up before being counted out the referee handed the decision to LaBlanche.

Amidst cries of ‘foul’, the blow which came to be known as the ‘pivot punch’ was controversial to say the least, being reported by some papers as a terrific right swing and by others, including the New York World, as being delivered by the right forearm. Years later, writing in the May 1925 edition of The Ring, A. D. Phillips, who claimed to have been present, stated that LaBlanche had whirled off the ropes with his right hand swinging backwards, while Nat Fleischer, writing in the March 1927 edition of The Ring, claimed that LaBlanche had pivoted on his left heel and swung his left arm, held stiffly at full length. Whatever the truth of the matter, Dempsey had lost his unbeaten record. Following the fight it was claimed that LaBlanche had worked on the finishing blow with his trainer, Jim Carroll, who had used the same tactic in his contest with Sam Blakelock. This was debunked by many, who claimed that the blow was a fluke.

Despite any claim put forward by LaBlanche, the Californian Athletic Club refused to support him, stating that regardless of the result as they considered 154lbs to be the middleweight limit the Canadian did not belong to that weight class. However, that failed to stop LaBlanche continuing to bill himself as the man who beat Dempsey to win the title.

In England, a catchweight championship competition was won by Jack Welland, who outpointed Jim Richardson over four rounds at Saddlers Wells Theatre, Clerkenwell, London on 14 December 1889. Then, in 1891, Welland won two championship competitions, outpointing Jim Haines over six rounds at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Westminster, London on 4 April and Alf Bowman over seven rounds at the Goodwin Gym, Shoreditch, London on 5 December.

On 1 November 1894, Arthur Bobbett challenged all England at 162lbs.