1916-10-24 Battling Levinsky w pts 12 Jack Dillon, Armory AA, Boston, Massachusetts, USA - USA

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1916-10-24 Battling Levinsky w pts 12 Jack Dillon, Armory AA, Boston, Massachusetts, USA - USA. Referee: Larry Connolly. Following Dillon’s first loss for over four years, Levinsky, who had begun his professional career as Barney Williams, claimed the title. Although neither man weighed in, according to the TS Andrews’ Record Book Levinsky was conveniently considered to have made the stipulated 175lbs despite some newspaper reports stating that he looked at least ten pounds heavier than Dillon.

The fight itself saw Levinsky have every advantage in all rounds bar the fifth, with Dillon lacking his normal aggression and speed. Rushing in wildly, Dillon was generally stopped in his tracks as Levinsky jabbed to the head and moved. On other occasions, Dillon was rocked heavily by lefts and rights, while the challenger showed that he could take whatever was thrown at him before hitting back accurately. The Boston Daily Globe report of the fight said Dillon lost because his hands were in bad shape from fighting too frequently, while, in summing up, Luckett Davis makes the valid point that Dillon certainly did not behave like a champion defending a valuable title.

In the meantime, Levinsky was hardly perceived to be a world champion and the light heavyweight division remained away from the public eye.

Ten days later, on 30 October at the Clermont Rink, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, Levinsky (181lbs) risked his newly won title when allowing Billy Miske (170½lbs) to make the weight for their ten rounder. Miske received the press decision, but not the championship.

Then, on 8 December, Levinsky met Gus Christie at the Wayne Avenue Gymnastic Club, Dayton, Ohio. According to the Dayton Daily News the fight was made for 15 rounds and Lou Bauman, the referee, gave it as a draw, while The Ring Record Book showed in to be a ten-round no-decision bout. Regardless, it was made at catchweights with the southpaw Christie around the 170lbs mark and Levinsky a good 20lbs heavier. Although the paper reported that it did not involve the ‘big title’ and then went on to say that the light heavyweight championship was at stake, they also stated that for Christie to win the title he would have to beat Levinsky inside the distance. However, at no time did Christie look likely to score an inside the distance win despite him having the better of things up to the tenth round and when Levinsky came on strong over the last five sessions the press generally saw it too close to call.

Coming into 1917, another fight which was billed for the title, involving Levinsky at catchweights, was held at the Grand Opera House, Youngstown, Ohio on 17 January when he met Bob Moha over 12 rounds with no referee’s decision in prospect. However, despite the fight being disqualified from having title status when Levinsky failed to weigh in, had Moha, who was reported to be comfortably inside 175lbs, won inside the distance there is no doubt that he would have laid claim to the title.

When Levinsky took on Miske (nd-w pts 10 on 27 February at the Auditorium, St Paul, Minnesota), the St Paul Pioneer Express reported that, by his showing, Levinsky is the actual as well as the technical light heavyweight champion. While the paper went on to say that the fighters were due to make 175lbs, elsewhere it was reported that the men weighed in wearing their street clothes, Levinsky scaling 185½lbs to Miske’s 182½.

Later in the year, on 16 October at The Arena, Boston, Massachusetts, Miske was outpointed over 12 rounds by Kid Norfolk, who claimed the title on winning. Although there was never any real proof that either man was inside the limit, the Boston Globe reporting them to weigh at least 175lbs, Norfolk continued to bill himself as the ‘black’ champion at the weight and was eventually awarded a championship belt to justify the claim. Although I cannot trace any legitimate championship bouts for Norfolk, on 3 May 1921 at The Casino, Manhattan, NYC, New York, weighing 181½lbs, he outpointed the Jamaica Kid (175lbs) over 15 rounds of a contest in which the New York Times had earlier quoted the Kid as saying he would claim the ‘black’ title if he won.

Meantime, Levinsky’s fight against Tommy Gibbons (nd-l pts 10 on 23 March 1917 at the Auditorium, St Paul, Minnesota) was reported by the St Paul Pioneer Express to be a billed title contest with the champion hoping to make 175lbs. Regardless of billing, the official weights reported in the press showed that while Levinsky came in at 176½lbs, Gibbons, at 161½lbs, was easily inside the championship weight.

Another fight where an over the weight Levinsky (180) risked his title came at the Fairmont AC, Bronx, NYC on 9 May against Bob McAllister (164), the press giving both men a share of the spoils after ten rounds.

When Levinsky met Johnny Howard (1 pts 12 on 20 June at the National AC, Marieville Gardens, Providence, Rhode Island) in a contest billed for the 175lbs title, the Providence Journal reported that the latter was handicapped in height, weight and reach.

It was now quite clear that Levinsky did not mind risking his title claim in catchweight fights and when he took on Harry Greb on 6 September, losing the ten-round press decision at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Gazette reported Greb to be 162lbs with Levinsky seemingly outside the weight class.

On 16 October, Levinsky was seen by the press to have outpointed Tom McMahon at the Amphitheatre Rink, Winnipeg, Canada and although it was billed as a title fight there were no weights reported to back it up.

A further instance of Levinsky not bothering to make the weight came at Sohmer Park, Montreal, Canada on 31 October when he landed the ten-round press decision over the Zulu Kid. The Montreal Herald poured scorn on Levinsky’s title claim when reporting that the Kid, really a middleweight, would have surely won the title had he carried a punch.

Throughout 1918, Levinsky’s claim was sidelined as he continued to fight above the weight.