1885-08-29 John L. Sullivan w disq 7 (finish) Dominick McCaffrey, Chester Driving Park, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

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1885-08-29 John L. Sullivan w disq 7 (finish) Dominick McCaffrey, Chester Driving Park, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Referee: Billy Tait. According to the Chicago Tribune, Sullivan v McCaffrey was contracted for six rounds in three-ounce gloves with a draw to be given in the event that both men were still standing at the final bell and was billed as a contest with gloves that would decide the MoQ championship of the world’. However, the Boston Globe account of the affair gives a rather different impression, reporting, the day before, that it was to be a finish fight as per an advertisement that ran in the Enquirer. This is more likely to be closer the truth, as anything other than gloved exhibitions were banned in much of America at the time and promoters would not have wanted to tip off the authorities.

Throughout the contest Sullivan was the aggressor and had McCaffrey over in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, but the latter was making life difficult for the favourite who was beginning to flag during the seventh. Following the fight, the Sunday Boston Globe stated that it had been stopped at 1.45 of the seventh round and given to Sullivan on a foul, the referee stating that he had disqualified McCaffrey for using his legs illegally. The paper went on to say that there had been 26 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock at the finish, broken down by four rounds of three minutes each, one of 3.20, one of 3.15 and one of 1.45, with six minutes lost between rounds. Regarding the breakdown of rounds contested, it would appear that MoQ Rules got mixed up with London Prize Ring Rules. There was no doubt that McCaffrey believed it to be a finish fight and, not expecting it to end at that point, a riot ensued after his brother pulled a gun and clubbed the former lightweight champion, Arthur Chambers, on the head.

Although Sullivan continued his career with fists, he would be claiming the gloved title from there on, despite it being hardly a fight to remember.

For Sullivan, another fight for him that had a dubious ending came against Patsy Cardiff at the Washington Rink, Minneapolis, Minnesota on 18 January 1887. Supposedly made for six rounds or a finish, Sullivan was said to have broken his left forearm and, with Cardiff having the best of it, called it quits at the end of the sixth, whereupon a draw was announced by the referee, Pat Sullivan. As far as Sullivan’s wife was concerned her husband had tricked all concerned yet again and was perfectly okay.

On 17 May 1887, Jake Kilrain challenged Sullivan to decide the championship of America with fists or two-ounce gloves for $2,500 up to $5,000, the winner to receive the Police Gazette Championship Belt. When Sullivan refused Kilrain’s challenge and had failed to cover his deposit, the belt was awarded to the latter on 4 June in Baltimore on condition that he defended it against all comers from either side of the Atlantic. Kilrain was then challenged with knuckles by Jem Smith, who received a draw after 150 minutes (106 rounds) of fighting on 19 December 1887 in France.

Meanwhile, Sullivan, on the verge of defeat, held on to his version of the bare-knuckle championship against Charlie Mitchell in Chantilly, France on 10 March 1888, when a draw was given after 190 minutes of fighting. He then beat Kilrain in his final bare-knuckle defence, in a fight that lasted 136 minutes in Richburg, Mississippi on 8 July 1889.