1917-09-21 Benny Leonard nd-w rtd 1 (10) Leo Johnson, Harlem SC, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD
1917-09-21 Benny Leonard nd-w rtd 1 (10) Leo Johnson, Harlem SC, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD. Referee: William McPartland. With both men inside 133lbs, this ten rounder carried a real title opportunity for a man claiming to be the ‘black' champion, but it was all over for him after one minute, 59 seconds when his manager threw the towel in. Right from the opening bell, Johnson (129½) was pummelled around the ring before Leonard (133) really got down to business with powerful lefts and rights to both head and body that left his man virtually senseless, lying across the bottom rope.
On 5 October at the Harlem SC, Leonard forced Vic Moran to retire at the end of the second round. Although the agreement called for both men to be inside 135lbs at the ringside weigh-in, which on paper gave Moran a real opportunity of landing the championship, the latter was reported to have come to the ring at 136½lbs. Scheduled for ten rounds of boxing and refereed by Kid McPartland, Leonard (133½) handed out a boxing lesson in the first, before stepping up the pace in the second round, with a sweeping left hook to the chin doing a fair bit of damage. There was no doubting that Moran was in a bad way but Leonard did not follow up his advantage until shooting over a right hander that left the former on the floor. Although the bell saved Moran at the count of ‘four’, his handlers wisely retired him during the interval.
Remaining busy, Leonard’s no-decision contest against Young Erne at the Broadway Auditorium, Buffalo, New York on 23 October was reported to be a ten rounder in the Ring Record Book, despite the New York Times having it as a six rounder, with Leonard tipping the beam at 134lbs to Erne’s 135. It was reported that while Leonard pressed hard and tried for the kayo, Erne was on the defensive throughout to last the course.
A day later, at the Athletic Club, Cleveland, Ohio, Leonard knocked out Toughy Ramser inside seven rounds. The Sandusky Star Journal stated on 8 March 1934 (in Ramser’s obituary) that Ramser had been given the opportunity to win the lightweight title and completed a remarkable feat for the champion, who had successfully handled four good men – future welterweight champion, Jack Britton (nd-w pts 10 on 19 October at the Harlem SC), Philadelphia’s 136lbs Eddie Wagond (nd-w pts 6 on 22 October at the Olympia AA, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Erne and Ramser – in just six days.
On 28 November Leonard defeated Frank Kirke (nd-w co 1 at Stockyards Stadium, Denver, Colorado) in a ten-round no-decision contest. Although the fighters’ weights were not announced, the Rocky Mountain News reported that Kirke expected to land the title by the only way he could – a knockout - after he was allowed to come inside 135lbs. Unfortunately, for him, Leonard had the same thing in mind as he tore into the luckless challenger, battering him with all the punches in the book and leaving him flat on the deck to be counted out after just 1.20 had elapsed. It was reported to be Denver’s fastest ever finish.