23 May Bushy Graham w pts 15 Izzy Schwartz, Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA - NY
23 May Bushy Graham w pts 15 Izzy Schwartz, Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA - NY. Referee: Lou Magnolia. Contested for the vacant title as far as the NYSAC were concerned, it was not recognised as such elsewhere, especially with the flyweight kingpin, Schwartz (111¼), being matched against Graham (118) instead of a leading bantam. Although Schwartz was willing and had speed on Graham, who looked slow in the early sessions, it became one-way traffic as the latter’s strength began to tell, and in the 14th Schwartz was dropped for a ‘nine’ count before battling on. Not only that, but Graham’s better boxing was piling up points throughout and the bloodied but unbowed Schwartz, although dropping the unanimous decision, received warm applause for his game display.
Despite it being reported in some quarters that the NBA were prepared to support Graham following Bud Taylor’s official announcement on 21 August 1928 that he could no longer make the weight, in reality they wanted a series of eliminators involving Graham, Kid Francis, Teddy Baldock, Archie Bell and Panama Al Brown, to find a single champion, while Nat Fleischer, writing in The Ring magazine, reported that the promoter, Humbert Fugazy, was trying to put a bout together between Graham and Francis for the title. Fleischer had earlier reported that Graham, who had to weigh in three times before making 118lbs for Schwartz, should not be considered as the champion until he had beaten Francis and inferred that he should show that he could also make the bantam limit without draining himself.
It was then reported that the NBA would support the winner of a fight between Francis and Brown, set for 13 September 1928 at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC as their champion. Made at 118lbs, Brown (118¼) duly outpointed Francis (117½) over 12 rounds, despite coming in over the weight and paying forfeit. Brown’s claim to the title was later refuted by the NBA’s new president, Edward Foster, who claimed that Brown had never been recognised at that time by their organisation and it was his manager, Dave Lumiansky, who had misinformed the press.
Following the Francis fight, Brown took off for Europe, fighting a series of catchweight contests between October 1928 and April 1929. Although The Ring Record Book reported that Graham had abdicated the NYSAC version of the title in January 1929, which does not seem to have been the case, the final straw came when he was matched against Kid Chocolate over 15 rounds at the new New York Coliseum, Bronx, NYC on 12 April 1929. Although initially carded for the title over 15 rounds, the NYSAC failed to support it as such when it became clear that Graham was unable to make 118lbs. The fight went ahead at 122lbs at the insistence of Graham (121½), with Chocolate (120) winning by a seventh-round disqualification after the former had been warned no less than five times for low blows. Interestingly, Chocolate had earlier announced that he would be inside the bantam limit and would claim the title if he won, while Fleischer reported that both men were given every chance to make 118lbs but failed to do so. Boxing reported that unless the NYSAC formulated some new ruling, Graham had ceased to have an interest in the world title.
In Britain, the Clapton Stadium promoters had been looking to bring over Graham to fight Baldock, but after negotiations stalled, Baldock set about deciding the British title with Alf Kid Pattenden instead. On beating Pattenden (w pts 15 on 16 May 1929 at Olympia, Kensington, London), the British Boxing Board of Control (newly restructured from the old NSC controlled body that was formed in 1918) promised that it would do everything within its powers to get Baldock a crack at the world title.
With Graham finally out of contention, Fidel LaBarba, back home after twice defeating Willie Smith in South Africa, was matched to meet Chocolate over 15 rounds at the New York Coliseum, Bronx, NYC on 22 May 1929. Although the NYSAC had not given the contest title status they strongly advised the pair to make 118lbs at the weigh-in and when they both came in above the limit the distance was reduced to ten rounds with Chocolate getting the nod.
Continuing to work on sorting the mess out, the NYSAC then stated that they would be happy to see Brown, Chocolate, Pete Sanstol or Gregorio Vidal in an elimination tournament. After Chocolate had shown a lack of interest in meeting Brown, Vidal jumped at the chance of a fight with the man from Panama, and they were brought together in what was initially thought to be an eliminator. Although Vidal only had a moderate record in Europe and was not even the champion of his own country, he had been loudly cheered when gamely outpointed by Chocolate over ten rounds at Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 5 June 1929. It was clear that the BBBoC were now right behind Baldock and it was eventually agreed that the Englishman would meet the winner of Brown v Vidal sometime in September.
Immediately prior to Brown meeting Vidal, it was reported that title matches against Francis and Domenico Bernasconi, the European champion, had earlier fallen through because Brown had demanded too much money. Then, after news broke that he had walked out on a contract to fight Denmark’s European featherweight champion, Knud Larsen, in Denmark on 21 June 1929 in order to meet Vidal, he was suspended by the Illinois Boxing Commission until he was prepared to honour that agreement.