1898-10-24 (158lbs) Tommy Ryan w pts 20 Jack Bonner, Greater New York AC, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA

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1898-10-24 (158lbs) Tommy Ryan w pts 20 Jack Bonner, Greater New York AC, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Referee: Alex Brown. According to the New York Herald report of the fight, Ryan (149) v Bonner (158) involved the 158lbs title. The Ring Record Book lists this contest as being for the vacant world title, but, in reality, it was only the American version which was at stake and even that was not conclusive, with Bob Fitzsimmons continuing to class himself the champion and Charles Kid McCoy having a stronger claim than Ryan.

There was no doubting that Bonner’s wonderful condition got him through a fight he would eventually lose and that Ryan had to be careful throughout. In the second round, Bonner, who was confident of victory, dropped Ryan with a right to the head for ‘nine’, but although dazed the latter came roaring back to match his man blow for blow. Thereafter, Ryan had the upper hand and after dropping Bonner for ‘three’ in the fifth with a right to the jaw he upped the pace and worked the head and body consistently to weaken his man. Cut badly on the left eye in the tenth, Bonner was right up against it and the last three sessions saw Ryan chopping him up bit by bit without taking too many risks.

On the same date, at the Athletic Club, Louisville, Kentucky, Jimmy Watts stopped Jim Janey inside seven rounds to claim the ‘black’ title. Although Watts lost his title claim when he was knocked out inside eight rounds by Joe Walcott at the same venue on 30 May 1899, it was clear that the latter was only interested in fighting for more generally recognised title at that time and there were no defences as such for him.