1892-10-05 (114/116lbs) Willie Smith w co 10 (20) Tom Gardner, Social Club, Kennington, London, England

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1892-10-05 (114/116lbs) Willie Smith w co 10 (20) Tom Gardner, Social Club, Kennington, London, England. Referee: Bernard J. Angle. Billed for the English 114lbs title, onlookers claimed it to be one of the greatest bouts ever seen up to that time. It started slowly as Smith (113½) and Gardner (113½) eyed each other up but by the fifth round the men were fighting furiously. Gardner was the first to crack when he went weak at the end of the fifth, however, he was soon back in the trough trading blows with his rival. At the end of the eighth both men were tiring fast, so hectic had it been, but in the ninth it was all Smith as his body blows began to take their effect on Gardner. After a few moments trading in the tenth a revitalised Smith let go with both hands, finding the body with obvious results, and before too long a right to the jaw had sent Gardner down to be counted out.

On the result Smith challenged the world at the weight, and continued to do so until he outgrew the weight division by early 1894. Smith had first claimed the English 116lbs title when knocking out Tim Sullivan in the first round of a championship competition at the Central Hall, Holborn, London on 4 June. His main rival was Fred Johnson, who had been calling himself the English champion since March 1886.

Although these two men dominated the 116lbs weight class, others who challenged all England included Arthur Wilkinson (October), George Mendoza (November) and Tom Callaghan (December). Another claimant emerged when Goody York (who won a championship competition at St Andrew’s Hall, Westminster, London, on 21 November 1893, when outpointing Joe Rampling over four rounds) came through the ranks.

After Smith moved on, and with a view to decide a new titleholder, Jim Evans (April 1894) and Harry Roberts (September 1894) challenged all England.