1919-07-04 Jack Dempsey w rtd 3 (12) Jess Willard, Bay View Park Arena, Toledo, Ohio, USA - WORLD

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1919-07-04 Jack Dempsey w rtd 3 (12) Jess Willard, Bay View Park Arena, Toledo, Ohio, USA - WORLD. Referee: Ollie Pecord. Nearly 20,000 fans packed into the arena that Rickard had built for the fight and they would not be disappointed. Willard (245) was knocked down a record seven times in the opening round and Dempsey (187) actually left the ring feeling he had already won, only to be called back to finish the job. After punishing Willard throughout the second session Dempsey came out with a rush in the third, hitting the champion almost at will. Staggering back to his corner in a pitiful state, his right eye closed and face battered, after Willard slumped down on his stool, a badly beaten fighter, his corner advised the referee that their man was through for the night and the fight was over.

Incidentally, although taking place in Ohio, a State more accustomed to contests of a no-decision variety, Dempsey v Willard was billed for 12 rounds of boxing with a points verdict to be given if necessary. Tex Rickard took the fight to Toledo when he discovered that under Ohio law at the time, it was up to the local authority, not the Governor, whether boxing took place within the town.

The day after his victory, Dempsey was quoted as saying that he would be drawing the 'Colour Line' and would be paying no attention to black challengers forthwith.

Meanwhile, Harry Wills, the ‘black’ champion, was gunning for Dempsey and, in keeping busy, defended against Jeff Clark (nd-w rsc 4 on 18 August at The Arena, Syracuse, New York), Sam Langford (nd-w pts 10 at The Arena, Syracuse, New York on 30 September) and Joe Jeannette (nd-w pts 8 on 20 October at the 4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey). A day later, on 21 October, Langford drew with Jack Thompson over 15 rounds of an advertised ‘black’ title fight at the Convention Hall, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Even though there was a belt at stake it did not do either man much good as Wills quickly eliminated both of them. Langford (w pts 15 on 5 November at the Convention Hall, Tulsa) came first followed by Thompson (nc 3 on 1 January 1920 at The Coliseum, San Francisco, California and w pts 15 on 12 January at the Convention Hall, Tulsa). On a run, Wills’ next three defences were against Andy Johnson (nd-w co 1 on 17 March at the Auditorium, St Paul, Minnesota), Langford (w pts 15 on 23 April at the Stockyards Stadium, Denver, Colorado) and Ray Bennett (w rsc 1 at the Armory AA, Bridgeport, Connecticut on 1 June).