1904-10-31 (133lbs) Joe Gans w disq 5 (20) Jimmy Britt, Mechanics’ Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USA

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1904-10-31 (133lbs) Joe Gans w disq 5 (20) Jimmy Britt, Mechanics’ Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USA. Referee: Ed Graney. For over two years Britt had disputed the title, firstly drawing the ‘Colour Bar’ and later claiming that Gans was incapable of making 133lbs. However, while Gans proved he could make the weight for this one it obviously left him weakened, something that was painfully exploited by Britt. The only thing that saved Gans was Britt’s impetuosity. Having downed the coloured man twice in the fourth round, Britt was forgiven for hitting him after the bell because of the din, but there was no excuse in the fifth and he was finally disqualified after hitting his rival who was in the act of rising from another knockdown.

Britt continued to claim the title on the grounds that the action of the referee was unwarranted and that in the eyes of many Californians he was the champion.

Although Gans would not make 133lbs ringside again for close on two years and despite The Ring Record Book stating that Gans gave up his title in November 1904, there is no evidence to suggest that he ever did. Why would he want to do that in an era where fighters never gave up their hard-earned gains due to the lack of controlling bodies.

Having been inactive for a considerable period while recuperating from illness, Gans eventually came back to draw over 15 rounds against Mike Twin Sullivan at the Lyric, Baltimore, Maryland on 16 September 1905. Sullivan had been after a 133lbs championship match for some time and although it was reported that Gans scaled 133lbs to his rival’s 135 it should not be taken as read due to the fact that it was quite clear that neither man could make those weights at that time. While it may or may not have involved Gans’ 140lbs title claim, once Sullivan had beaten Jimmy Gardner for the welterweight crown that November the way was clear for a rematch with the 142lbs championship as the prize.

Meanwhile, it was widely reported on 11 February 1906 that Jack Blackburn was claiming the American lightweight title, having repeatedly challenged Gans to meet him at 133lbs to no avail. The problem for Blackburn was that although he could probably have made 133lbs it would have been a struggle and he continued to fight among the bigger men.