1917-05-28 Benny Leonard nd-w rsc 9 (10) Freddie Welsh, The Casino, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD

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1917-05-28 Benny Leonard nd-w rsc 9 (10) Freddie Welsh, The Casino, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD. Referee: William McPartland. When a champion fought in a no-decision contest (as regulated under the Frawley Law in New York between 1911 and 1917) it was generally recognised that the only way he could lose his title was by failing to last the distance in a fight that was made at the championship weight. In this case, however, Leonard (133), who came in two pounds inside the class limit at the ringside weigh-in, claimed the title on his victory, despite Welsh (136¾) arguing that it had been articled as an over-the-weight contest and that the referee had no right to stop it when he did. While Welsh received scant backing and decided to retire, Leonard, supported by the press, was quickly accepted as the new champion by the American public.

The fight itself saw Leonard in control most of the way as Welsh fought defensively, but in the ninth round Leonard cut loose, dropping the champion three times from big right hands to bring about the stoppage on the 1.15 mark. This was the start of a legend, as Leonard proved a great favourite with the fight public and showed all the attributes one needed to make a great fighter. At his peak he had it all, exhibiting excellent ringcraft and presence, good punching ability with either hand and the ability to pace a fight.

On 25 July at Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Leonard (133) knocked out the featherweight champion Johnny Kilbane (127) inside three rounds of a six-round no-decision contest before meeting Young Rector over six rounds at the Island Stadium, Toronto, Canada on 3 September. In what was reported as a no-decision contest at 133lbs, Leonard stopped his man inside five rounds.

When Leonard met Phil Bloom (nd-w co 2 on 14 September at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) although the papers reported that the men were down to weight it is unclear what poundage they were implying, so whether this contest involved the title in any way has to be viewed with an open mind.