1896-12-02 Tom Sharkey w disq 8 (10) Bob Fitzsimmons, Mechanics’ Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USA

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1896-12-02 Tom Sharkey w disq 8 (10) Bob Fitzsimmons, Mechanics’ Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USA. Referee: Wyatt Earp. Announced as being the world champion, Fitzsimmons moved into Sharkey from the off, having the sailor down in the first, fifth and sixth rounds. The last occasion saw Sharkey hauled back into the ring in a dazed state. After hammering away non-stop in the seventh, Fitzsimmons tore into Sharkey in the eighth, and following right and left swings to the head the latter was sent crashing from a left uppercut to the jaw. To the surprise of all those present, the famous Marshall, Wyatt Earp, who was acting as referee, disqualified Fitzsimmons, claiming that the champion had struck Sharkey in the groin as he was on the way down. Sharkey was unconscious for nearly 15 minutes.

The victim of what most people described as a diabolical decision, despite Fitzsimmons going to court to get the result overturned the judge decided that the referee’s verdict should stand. Earp was rumoured to have been a member of a betting ring who had money on Sharkey. However, with everybody present knowing who was the better man Fitzsimmons’ forthcoming championship fight with James J. Corbett continued to attract a great deal of interest.

Regardless of that, Sharkey, who next drew with Jim Williams in an eight-round no-decision contest at the Athletic Club, Salt Lake City, Utah on 5 April 1897, still laid claim to the title even though there was little recognition forthcoming.

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