1879-08-18 (148lbs) Mike Donovan drew 94 (finish) William McClellan, Platt’s Hall, San Francisco, California, USA

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1879-08-18 (148lbs) Mike Donovan drew 94 (finish) William McClellan, Platt’s Hall, San Francisco, California, USA. Referee: William Barnes. Articled at 148lbs, and using ‘ordinary’ gloves, it was declared a draw after 94 rounds (228 minutes) in a fight that was again more London Prize Ring Rules than those relating to the Marquess of Queensberry. At that point the referee decided neither man had any real advantage and it was pointless to continue, a decision that caused a great deal of dissent among the backers. Fouls had been claimed several times on behalf of McClellan (147), due to Donovan (147) hitting him whilst he was on the floor, but the referee refused to listen. While both men had their moments neither had been able to find a finisher.

Further to a two-round spar with George Rooke at Terrace Gardens, Brooklyn, NYC, New York on 25 April 1881, Donovan pursued a career of boxing exhibitions with heavyweights such as John L. Sullivan, thus leaving the way clear for Rooke to claim the American title.

Rooke may well have claimed to be champion but when he met McClellan (153) at Hunter’s Point, Long Island, New York on 1 December 1881, he was almost certainly in the heavyweight class. Contested in a hall occupied by Kelly and Bliss, it was articled under London Prize Ring Rules using hard gloves. No weights were given or stipulated, although Rooke was thought to scale around 170lbs. Lasting seven minutes, it was called off after McClellan was knocked unconscious and had failed to come up for the fourth round. Prior to this, Rooke had recently been knocked out by Sullivan in a bare-fist fight.

Meanwhile, in Britain, there were several championship competition winners at 148lbs, such as Charlie Mitchell (who outpointed Bill Harnetty over four rounds at the King’s Road Baths, Chelsea, London on 3 April 1883) and Alec Roberts (who outpointed George Cashley over three rounds at Waites Brewer Street Rooms, Soho, London on 13 April 1885). And, on 29 March 1886, after repeatedly challenging all England at 148lbs to no avail, the Sporting Life was reporting that Toff Wall should now be recognised as the English champion at the weight.