1932-03-18 George Nichols w pts 10 Dave Maier, The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA - NBA

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1932-03-18 George Nichols w pts 10 Dave Maier, The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA - NBA. Referee: Phil Collins. Scorecards: 57-43, 51-49, 49-51. Billed for the vacant NBA title, and a battle between southpaws, the Chicago Tribune reported that at the final bell the three judges barely knew how to score a fight that had been a vicious, hard-punching, devil-may-care affair. Both Nichols (163) and Maier (173½) had whaled away at each other with so much force that one or the other might have been knocked all the way home and back again. Giving away over ten pounds in weight Nichols won the split decision, and Maier, who rallied in the closing sessions with left hooks and right-hand counters, would recall: “I think I was robbed, but what could I do about it”.

On the same bill Baxter Calmes and Harry Ebbets outpointed Jim Braddock and Roscoe Manning, respectively, over ten rounds. Although Manning had lost a disputed decision to Calmes in the elimination series, a meeting between the winners of these two contests was seen as a way of finding Nichols’ first challenger. However, Ebbets and Calmes, by now fighting as a heavyweight, were never matched.

Meanwhile, Maxie Rosenbloom remained active, but having failed to make a further defence for nine months he was advised by the NYSAC on 4 May 1932 to meet Nichols within 30 days to unify the title or risk being stripped. Those plans were scuppered when Nichols was beaten by Scozza. Incorrectly recorded as a title fight in the Boxing News Annual, Scozza’s ten-round points win over Nichols at the Broadway Auditorium, Buffalo, New York on 31 May was merely a non-title fight, the victor going on to challenge Rosenbloom for the NYSAC version of the title.

Regardless of being recognised as the champion by the IBU at their May convention, after losing three of his next four fights the NBA stripped Nichols of the title in December, ahead of announcing the following month that if a promoter matched any two men from their top five - Rosenbloom, Billy Jones, Mickey Walker, Bob Godwin and Joe Knight - they would recognise the winner as the new champion.

Ultimately, a match was made between Knight, who was unbeaten in his last 19 fights and had wins over Rosenbloom, Godwin, Nichols and Battling Bozo during that time, and Godwin, with two draws and a points loss against Rosenbloom in the same period. Interestingly, pre-fight articles in both the Palm Beach Post and Miami Herald suggested that as Knight was already considered by the NBA, a body which governed ring activities in 33 States, as their champion he would thus be defending the title.