1883-02-23 George Godfrey w rsc 6 (6) Charles Hadley, Cribb Club, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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1883-02-23 George Godfrey w rsc 6 (6) Charles Hadley, Cribb Club, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Referee: John L. Sullivan. Billed as a battle for the ‘black’ heavyweight title in two-ounce gloves and held under MoQ Rules, both men were badly punished in what became a slugging match. The fight came to an end after Godfrey had fought Hadley to a standstill and the latter was unable to continue.

The first ‘black’ champion with gloves appears to have been C. C. Smith, who claimed the title after challenging all America in 1876. He was followed by Morris Grant, who was said to have won a three-round ‘black’ tournament in 1878, and then by Hadley who twice outpointed Grant over three rounds in 1881. Even at this stage it was becoming clear that ‘black’ fighters were generally finding it difficult to obtain matches to their advantage and early in 1882 Richard K. Fox set up a Police Gazette championship medal competition specifically for them to compete in. Contested over three or four rounds at Harry Hill’s Theatre, Manhattan, NYC, New York, the idea was that any man who won the tournament three times would keep the medal. Having won six of ten contests against Grant in 1882, including a walkover, Hadley duly collected the medal and went forward to meet Godfrey after knocking out Harry Woodson in two rounds on 10 January 1883.

Following his win over Hadley, Godfrey, who had also been claiming the ‘black’ title since September 1881 when John L. Sullivan walked away immediately prior to a contest between the pair taking place, next took on McHenry Johnson on 10 May 1883. Billed as a four-round spar at the Revere Hall, Boston, the contest was stopped by the police in the fourth session after Johnson was floored with Godfrey well on top.

Further short distance fights for Godfrey in Boston where his ‘black’ title claim was at stake came against Johnson again (drew 4 at the Concert Hall on 10 May 1884), George Taylor (drew 4 at the Earley AC on 6 December 1884) and C. C. Smith (drew 6 on 15 January 1885). I have been unable to locate a venue for the last named contest, but in all probability it was held at Tom Earley's club.

Regardless of further competition, with Godfrey generally recognised at this time as being the best ‘black’ fighter in America all others would remain in his slipstream.

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