1905-12-20 (175lbs) Philadelphia Jack O’Brien w rtd 13 (20) Bob Fitzsimmons, Mechanics’ Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USA
1905-12-20 (175lbs) Philadelphia Jack O'Brien w rtd 13 (20) Bob Fitzsimmons, Mechanics’ Pavilion, San Francisco, California, USA. Referee: Ed Graney. Although being one of a series of eliminators to decide the heavyweight title, and a defence of O'Brien's title claim, technically the fledgeling light heavyweight crown was up for grabs at the same time.
Once the fight got underway it was clear that O’Brien (164) was the faster, using good footwork to get away from trouble, while Fitzsimmons (165) looked for the punch to finish it. Throughout, O’Brien showed his ability to hit and shift, hurting Fitzsimmons badly in the fourth and flooring his rival in the eighth with a stiff right to the jaw. Although Fitzsimmons continued to come forward he was taking more and more punishment and at the end of the 13th he collapsed in his corner, blood pouring from his nose and mouth, whereupon the referee awarded the fight to O’Brien. Fortunately, Fitzsimmons quickly recovered and left the ring unassisted.
Following O'Brien's victory, he was regarded by ‘certain sporting men’ as winning the heavyweight title based on the theory that the championship had reverted to Fitzsimmons on James J. Jeffries’ retirement. However, with both men well inside 175lbs it appears that over a period of time some historians have assumed the above contest to have also been for the light heavyweight title. This was due to Fitzsimmons being generally recognised as the champion, despite there being little interest in the weight class at the time, and the title automatically passing to O’Brien.