1910-07-04 Jack Johnson w rtd 15 (45) James J. Jeffries, The Amphitheatre, Reno, Nevada, USA - WORLD

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1910-07-04 Jack Johnson w rsc 15 (45) James J. Jeffries, The Amphitheatre, Reno, Nevada, USA - WORLD. Referee: Tex Rickard. The former champion was coaxed out of retirement on the grounds that he was expected to win for the white race and put Johnson (208) firmly in his place. Unfortunately for his supporters, after six years out of the ring and at the age of 35, the weary Jeffries (227) was just not up to the task. Systematically beaten, at the end of the 11th round Jeffries’ corner wanted to retire him but he would not hear of it. With Johnson taunting Jeffries, while hitting him at will, it could not last and in the 15th the latter was twice dropped before being counted out.

It had been an unedifying slaughter and from that moment on many people involved in boxing, whether it be administering, organising or reporting, felt that it was imperative that America found a ‘white’ champion to supplant the arrogant Johnson. With men such as the famous author and boxing fan, Jack London, beating the drum, thus began in earnest the period which came to be known as ‘The Era of the Great White Hope’, with tournaments springing up around the country to find a successor. Men who were either already claiming the ‘white’ title or were likely candidates included Luther McCarty, Al Palzer, Fireman Jim Flynn, Jim Barry, Frank Moran, Carl Morris, Arthur Pelkey, Gunboat Smith, Tom Kennedy, Jess Willard, Al Kaufman, and Bombardier Billy Wells.

On 6 September 1910 at the Armory AA, Boston, Massachusetts, Sam Langford outpointed Joe Jeannette over 15 rounds and in doing so was generally recognised as the ‘black’ champion. Langford then went on to successfully defend against Jeff Clark (w rsc 2 on 10 November 1910 at the Businessmens’ AC Auditorium, Joplin, Missouri), Morris Harris (w co 2 on 6 December 1910 at the Armory AA, Boston), Jeannette (w pts 12 on 10 January 1911 at the Armory AA, Boston), Sam McVea (drew 20 on 1 April 1911 at The Circus, Paris, France) and Jeannette (nd-drew 10 on 5 September 1911 at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York), before losing to McVea (l pts 20 on 26 December 1911 at The Stadium, Sydney, Australia). However, Langford soon regained the ‘black’ title, outpointing McVea over 20 rounds at The Stadium, Sydney on 8 April 1912.

Earlier, a title fight proposed for 5 August 1911 between Johnson and PO Curran in Belfast, Ireland was called off after Johnson refused to box in Ireland and another championship fight set for 2 October 1911 at the Empress Hall, Earls Court, London, England against Wells had to be called off just days before. This came about after the Home Secretary and a London County Council representative intervened, having taken into account protests by an anti-boxing lobby. The official objection, despite lawyers pointing out the legality of boxing, was against a white man meeting a black man for money.