1920-03-12 Jimmy Wilde nd-w pts 12 Frankie Mason, The Coliseum, Toledo, Ohio, USA - WORLD

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1920-03-12 Jimmy Wilde nd-w pts 12 Frankie Mason, The Coliseum, Toledo, Ohio, USA - WORLD. Referee: Ed Smith. Billed as a world flyweight title fight despite the Articles of Agreement calling for both men to be inside 108lbs, Wilde (106¼) won the 12-round press decision handily after doing all the forcing. He also showed great defensive powers, dodging, feinting and shifting before hitting back and overwhelming Mason (106¼). The referee claimed that he had never seen a fighter like Wilde, who was so willing to carry a fight to the opposition and mix matters throughout.

This performance was followed by a ten-round press win at catchweights against his old foe, Young Zulu Kid, at The Armory, Windsor, Ontario, Canada on 12 April. Two further no-decision bouts during his tour saw Wilde risking his title over short distances, Battling Al Murray being counted out in the eighth and final round on 21 April at the Sportsmens’ Club, Camden, New Jersey, and then being knocked out in the second of a scheduled six at the National AC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 13 May.

Sandwiched between these two contests was a one-round kayo win at 116lbs over Bobby Dyson at the Cuddy Arena, Lawrence, Massachusetts on 1 May. An interesting story about Wilde’s fight with Dyson appeared in the May 1951 edition of The Ring magazine. In the article it was claimed that Wilde got wind of a rumour that Dyson, a hard-hitting southpaw, would come out fast, banging in punches below the belt to score a foul knockdown, whereupon the referee would count the Welshman out. Dyson would then claim the title regardless of the fact that the fight was made above the championship weight. Whether that was true or not, Wilde never gave Dyson a chance to land effectively when taking him out with a cracking right to the jaw following a heavy knockdown. The count was completed on the 150-second mark.

The final contest for Wilde (105lbs) during his 1919-1920 tour of North America saw him outpoint Patsy Wallace (112lbs) over ten rounds at the Exhibition Grounds, Toronto, Canada on 24 May. This was yet another contest that was billed for the title where there was little or no risk for Wilde, with the contract calling for a 116lbs weigh-in to protect him.

Following Wilde’s defeat at the hands of America’s world bantam champion, Pete Herman, in a catchweight bout at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, England on 13 January 1921, in order to find an American titleholder at the weight The Ring magazine tells us that two contests involving four of the best men available were held on 11 February 1921. Despite the match being made at 116lbs, Johnny Buff (112) outpointed Mason (108) over 15 rounds at the Tulane Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, while Abe Goldstein knocked out Wallace in the seventh of a scheduled 15 rounder at the Pioneer SC, Manhattan, NYC, New York. No weights were mentioned for the latter contest, although Goldstein was said to be inside 112lbs. Both winners came together over 15 rounds at The Casino, Manhattan on 31 March 1921, and Buff kayoed Goldstein inside two rounds, each weighing 110lbs. The title changed hands after Buff (114¼) was knocked out by Pancho Villa (110), inside 11 rounds at Ebetts Field, Brooklyn, NYC on 14 September 1922. Regardless of the fact that Buff came in above the weight, Villa was recognised as being the American 112lbs champion on his victory.

Adding to his growing reputation, there were two 15-round points wins for the Filipino in Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC that were recorded in The Ring Record Book to have involved the American title, against Goldstein (115½) on 17 November and Terry Martin, who weighed 115¼lbs, on 29 December. These can now be discounted as being mere catchweight contests, despite Villa weighing in at 110 and 111lbs, respectively. However, two contests against American opposition where both Villa and his rivals were inside 112lbs came against Murray (nd-w pts 8 at The Arena, Philadelphia on 1 January 1923) and Mason (w co 5 at the Mechanics Building, Boston, Massachusetts on 13 February 1923).

With two previous points wins over Villa, even though one of them was a press decision, it would appear that Frankie Genaro had the ‘Indian Sign’ over the little Filipino. That was backed up when Genaro (110½) outpointed Villa (109½) over 15 rounds at Madison Square Garden on 1 March 1923 to take the latter’s American title. The result, however, was generally seen as being unjust, and when the promoter, Tex Rickard, lulled Wilde out of semi-retirement for a title defence it was not Genaro who was selected to meet the world champion but Villa. Prior to meeting Wilde, Villa had put together 78 bouts, of which he had lost just four, two of them to Genaro.

Earlier, on 22 February 1923, the IBU stripped Wilde of his European title due to inactivity, appointing the Belgian champion, Michel Montreuil, as the new titleholder. They were also failing to recognise Wilde any longer as world champion, which counted for nothing as far as the Americans were concerned.