1886-03-14 (156lbs) Nonpareil Jack Dempsey w co 13 (finish) George LaBlanche, Larchmont Sound, Long Island, New York, USA

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1886-03-14 (156lbs) Nonpareil Jack Dempsey w co 13 (finish) George LaBlanche, Larchmont Sound, Long Island, New York, USA. Referee: James O’Neil. Reported to be a catchweight bout by some papers, but a middleweight defence for Dempsey by the New York Herald, it was fought under MoQ Rules in kid driving gloves. With just nine people in attendance, the men went at it hammer and tongs from the moment the fight started and the pattern was immediately set as LaBlanche (155) went to work with shortarm blows at close quarters, while Dempsey (149) concentrated on solid left leads. By the end of the fourth, LaBlanche’s left eye was beginning to close due to the champion’s excellent left-hand work and by the eighth he was spitting out teeth. It was a terrific battle with much give and take. In the tenth, in response to the referee’s order to break, LaBlanche dropped his hands and was belted to the floor vainly claiming a foul. Thereafter it was blow for blow until LaBlanche sank to the floor from sheer exhaustion at 1.05 of the 13th and was counted out.

Almost a month later, on 10 April, Richard K. Fox of the Police Gazette presented Dempsey with the middleweight championship belt, for which he had to contend with all challengers for four years and remain unbeaten in order to keep it.

On 22 November, Dempsey (164) took on the 158lbs Jack Burke at the Mechanics Pavilion, San Francisco, California in what was billed as a ten-round catchweight exhibition contest. Interestingly, as neither man would accept the club’s choice of referee there were two men appointed, Frank Crockett to look after Burke’s interests and Jack Hallinan doing likewise for Dempsey. It was an interesting contest, Burke being the aggressor and harder puncher of the two while Dempsey was by far the cleverer and at the end of ten rounds it was declared a draw. Following the match-up, Professor Harry Maynard offered the men a purse of $1,000 and a percentage of all receipts over $250 if they agreed to meet in a fight to the finish. For whatever reason, nothing came of the offer.