1906-11-28 (175lbs) Philadelphia Jack O’Brien drew 20 Tommy Burns, Naud Junction Pavilion, Los Angeles, California, USA
1906-11-28 (175lbs) Philadelphia Jack O'Brien drew 20 Tommy Burns, Naud Junction Pavilion, Los Angeles, California, USA. Referee: James J. Jeffries. Fighting like a bulldog from beginning to end Burns (172) just about deserved to win the decision from O’Brien (163½), who was never far behind in the scoring. With both fighters' title claims at stake, despite there being no knockdowns the fight was unrelenting and there was plenty of hard hitting. Both men were damaged; O’Brien’s right eye being cut early on and Burns’ left optic closed shut at the final bell. According to O’Brien the fight was pre-arranged with Burns to be drawn. He explained: “The promoter, McCarey, had figured it out that if we fought a spirited draw he could bill the return match during fiesta week and make a small fortune by charging top prices”.
The above contest was billed as deciding the heavyweight championship, but because both men were inside 175lbs over the years record compilers who saw O’Brien as the light heavyweight boss logged it as a title defence. Some, however, including Tom Andrews, recognised Burns as the champion following this contest but there is no evidence that the heavyweight champion was even slightly interested in what was, in the main, seen as a synthetic title at that moment in time.
O'Brien continued to claim the title even after he was stopped by the middleweight champion, Stanley Ketchel, in a six-round fight made at 160lbs at the National AC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 9 June 1909. Down twice in the second and again in the third, O'Brien was rescued by the referee who did not even bother to count him out. There is nothing to suggest that Ketchel, who had earlier that year taken a press decision off O’Brien (nd-w pts 10 at the National AC, Manhattan, NYC, New York on 26 March) at the same weight, was the least bit interested in the light heavyweight title.