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. The fight 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. In summing up, Luckett Davis makes the valid point that Dillon certainly did not behave like a champion defending a valuable title.

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 seemingly 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. On 10 January 1917, the Indiana Weekly Messenger reported that Dillon was still the recognised champion, but I have found nothing to support that and nothing to suggest that the latter was continuing to claim the title. In the meantime, with Levinsky hardly perceived to be a world champion the light heavyweight division remained away from the public eye.

30 October 1916, 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 1916, 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, Lou Bauman, the referee, giving it as a draw, while The Ring Record Book showed it 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. The paper reported that it did not involve the ‘big title’, but 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 early 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. 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 Billy Miske (nd-w pts 10 at the Auditorium, St Paul, Minnesota on 27 February 1917), 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.

Sometimes referred to as a world title fight, when Levinsky met Jack Moran (w pts 12 at The Coliseum, St Louis, Missouri on 6 March 1917) the local papers reported both fighters to be in excess of 175lbs.

In the build up, Levinsky’s fight against Tommy Gibbons (nd-l pts 10 at the Auditorium, St Paul, Minnesota on 23 March 1917) 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 1917 against Bob McAllister (164), the press giving both men a share of the spoils after ten rounds.

Two more fights for Levinsky that carried a risk for the title claimant even though he was over the weight came against Leo Houck (nd-w pts 6 at the Athletic Club, York, Pennsylvania on 16 May 1917) and Bert Kenny (nd-w pts 10 at the Fairmont AC, Bronx, NYC, New York on 26 May 1917).

When Levinsky met Johnny Howard (1 pts 12 at the National AC, Marieville Gardens, Providence, Rhode Island on 20 June 1917) in a contest billed for the 175lbs title, the Providence Journal reported that the latter was handicapped in height, weight and reach.

Another contest where Levinsky did not make the weight while his opponent did was against Jack London (nd-w rsc 4 at the Military AC, Brooklyn, NYC, New York on 6 August 1917).

It was now quite clear that Levinsky did not mind risking his title claim in catchweight fights. When he took on Harry Greb on 6 September 1917, 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 1917, 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. On the same date at The Arena, Boston, Massachusetts, Billy Miske was outpointed over 12 rounds by Kid Norfolk, but while the latter claimed the title there was no tangible support forthcoming. With the Boston Globe reporting them to weigh at least 175lbs, there was never any real proof that either man was inside the limit anyway.

A further instance of Levinsky not bothering to make the weight came at Sohmer Park, Montreal, Canada on 31 October 1917 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 mainly sidelined as he continued to fight above the weight, but he managed to give further opportunities to Greb (nd-l pts 6 at Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 6 August) and Houck (nd-w pts 6 at the Athletic Club, Lancaster, Pennsylvania on 25 December). Whether Levinsky made 175lbs for those two fights is not known.

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