1917-12-05 Benny Leonard nd-w rsc 8 (10) Gene Delmont, The Auditorium, St Paul, Minnesota, USA - WORLD

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1917-12-05 Benny Leonard nd-w rsc 8 (10) Gene Delmont, The Auditorium, St Paul, Minnesota, USA - WORLD. Referee: Ed Smith. Made at 135lbs with a 3pm weigh-in, according to the Milwaukee Free Press Leonard (134) chopped Delmont (130) up for seven rounds before backing the challenger into a corner in the eighth and laying him low with a heavy left to the pit of the stomach. In no position to continue, Delmont was rescued from taking more punishment by the referee.

Seven days later, on 12 December, Leonard (134¼) risked his crown at 135lbs when taking on Patsy Cline (134½). A no-decision bout over a short distance, he could not afford to slip up and did not, cruising to a six-round press verdict (at the Olympia AA, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

Following this, Leonard met Chick Brown (w rsc 5 at the Ryan AC, New Haven, Connecticut on 17 December) in a fight that was reported to involve the title, with the latter told not to weigh more that 135lbs. Almost certainly a catchweight contest, it is unclear as to whether Leonard came in above the weight.

At the beginning of April 1918, the New York Times reported that Leonard would defend his title in two six-round no-decision contests in Philadelphia against Young Joe Borrell and Jack Brazzo, despite being in the Army and somewhat overweight. Borrell made it to the final bell at the Olympia AA on 8 April, while Brazzo was stopped inside four sessions at the National AA five days later. Weights were not announced.

Two more risk fights for Leonard came against Willie Gradwell (nd-w rsc 5 at the Armory AA, Jersey City, New Jersey on 22 July 1918) and Johnny Dundee (nd-w pts 8 at the 1st Regiment Armory, Newark, New Jersey on 20 January 1919). Both were eight rounders and both of his opponents were inside 135lbs, Gradwell scaling 132½lbs and Dundee 130, while Leonard was marginally above the weight.

A few months later Leonard met Dundee (nd-w pts 6 at Shibe Park, Philadelphia on 16 June 1919) in another short-distance bout, and with both men scaling inside 135lbs once again there was some risk involved.

Another contest at Shibe Park, Philadelphia, on 19 August 1919, saw Leonard defend his title (according to the Oakland Tribune) against three-time opponent, Cline (nd-w pts 6), in front of 20,000 fans. There were no weights reported.

When the Syracuse Herald reported in their pre-fight summing up that Leonard versus Johnny Clinton (nd-w pts 10 at The Arena, Syracuse, New York on 8 September 1919) would see the latter make a desperate attempt to win the title, that kind of throw-away line was typical of newspapers of the day. With the fight made at 138lbs and Clinton unable to make 135lbs there was no risk.

Further contests at catchweight for Leonard in which he allowed his opponent to make 135lbs while he came in above the weight, saw him meet Johnny Dundee (nd-w pts 8 at the Armory AA, Newark on 17 September 1919), Phil Bloom (nd-w pts 10 at Billy McIntosh’s Club, Detroit, Michigan on 15 October 1919), Mel Coogan (nd-w co 2 at the 4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey on 10 December 1919), Red Herring (nd-w co 6 at the Southern AC, Memphis, Tennessee on 19 December 1919), Dundee (nd-w pts 8 at The Arena, Jersey City on 9 February 1920) and Charley White (nd-w co 9 at The Arena, Benton Harbor, Michigan on 5 July 1920). The latter fight certainly made the news after White put the champion out of the ring for ‘nine’ with his famed left hook in the seventh before succumbing himself in the ninth.