1916-09-30 (160lbs) Les Darcy w co 9 (20) George Chip, Baker’s Stadium, Sydney, Australia

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1916-09-30 (160lbs) Les Darcy w co 9 (20) George Chip, Baker’s Stadium, Sydney, Australia. Referee: Arthur Scott. In what would prove to be the last contest of his career, Darcy (159½) was far too good for Chip (159½). Chip, who found that he was unable to deal with the Australian’s straight left and was an open target to follow up rights, was showing signs of wilting as early as the second round. Shaken up badly through to the sixth, Chip was finally dropped by a right to the jaw, and although he somehow managed to make it through to the ninth he was knocked out by a right-hand counter midway through the session.

Having made yet another successful defence of the Australian version of the 160lbs title, Darcy was put on standby for the Great War being fought in Europe. However, some time later, in November, he was reported missing and thought to be on his way to America. After turning up in the USA on an oil boat, via Chile in South America, Tex Rickard, the promoter, tried to match him with Georges Carpentier, but was turned down by the latter who was heavily committed to the war at that time.

Eventually, Darcy was matched against Jack Dillon in New York for early March 1917, but when it became clear that he had left Australia in disguise to avoid the call-up the State Governor barred the fight from taking place. Darcy then signed to meet Mike Gibbons at 160lbs in Wisconsin for 10 April, but that too was blocked. Then, after agreeing to meet Chip in Ohio on 25 April, pressure from patriotic groups in the State saw that match also cancelled. Following that, he was matched to defend his title against Jeff Smith over 20 rounds in Louisiana on 23 April. Once again Darcy met with disappointment when the promoter, bowing to pressure from the State Governor, called the fight off on 14 April, substituting him with Young Ahearn.

Having applied for American citizenship and enlisted with the Aviation Reserve Corps in Memphis, Tennessee on 24 April, it seemed that Darcy’s luck was about to change when he was matched to fight Len Rowlands in that State on 7 May. Tragically, it was not to be. Taken ill on 4 May Darcy was forced to postpone the fight, spending the next three weeks fighting for his life before passing away on 24 May. Although many people were offering up all kinds of suggestions as to the reasons for his untimely death at the age of 21, it was reported in the press that decayed teeth and badly infected tonsils had ultimately led to him contracting septicaemia from which there was no way back.

With the Australian version of the 160lbs championship falling vacant on Darcy’s death, Smith, who had knocked out Ahearn in the fifth round at the Louisiana Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana on 23 April, immediately reclaimed the title. But with Ahearn having been knocked out inside a round by Harry Greb just three weeks earlier, on 2 April, at the Power Auditorium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his claim was not taken seriously, especially as he continued to fight at a higher weight.