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. With nearly 20,000 fans packed into the arena that Rickard had built for the fight they would not be disappointed. Having knocked Willard (245) down a record seven times in the opening round 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.

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 had taken the fight to Toledo when he discovered that under Ohio law at the time it was up to the local authority not the Governor, as to 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 he defended against Jeff Clark (nd-w rsc 4 at The Arena, Syracuse, New York on 18 August), Sam Langford (nd-w pts 10 at The Arena, Syracuse, New York on 30 September) and Joe Jeannette (nd-w pts 8 at the 4th Regiment Armory, Jersey City, New Jersey on 20 October). 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 at the Convention Hall, Tulsa on 5 November) came first followed by Thompson (nc 3 at The Coliseum, San Francisco, California on 1 January 1920 and w pts 15 at the Convention Hall, Tulsa on 12 January). On a run, Wills’ next three defences were against Andy Johnson (nd-w co 1 at the Auditorium, St Paul, Minnesota on 17 March), Langford (w pts 15 at the Stockyards Stadium, Denver, Colorado on 23 April) and Ray Bennett (w rsc 1 at the Armory AA, Bridgeport, Connecticut on 1 June).