1927-09-22 Gene Tunney w pts 10 Jack Dempsey, Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois, USA - WORLD

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1927-09-22 Gene Tunney w pts 10 Jack Dempsey, Soldiers Field, Chicago, Illinois, USA - WORLD. Referee: Dave Barry. A fight made famous for what became known for ‘the long count’ after it was estimated that Tunney (189½) was on the canvas for at least 14 seconds during the seventh round, having taken four vicious blows to the head. However, with the referee refusing to take up the count until Dempsey (192½) went to a neutral corner, the champion managed to struggle to his feet in time to continue. Having got himself in better condition for this one and looking to regain the title, Dempsey went after Tunney from the opening bell, slamming in rights and lefts to head and body and occasionally going low in his attempts to win inside the distance. In the fourth, Tunney had Dempsey groggy at the end of the round, but was unable to follow it up in the next couple of sessions after getting on his back foot. After the well documented seventh, during which he managed to keep Dempsey at bay for the remainder of the round, Tunney came back strongly in the eighth. Dropped by a left to the jaw, Dempsey was up quickly, but now Tunney was beginning to force the fight and in the ninth he got home with some good deliveries of his own. The final session saw Dempsey going all out for a kayo, while Tunney countered and stayed out of trouble, and ended with the former champion being staggered by a succession of solid right to the jaw. Although it had been a great effort by Dempsey, the majority of the press gave the fight to Tunney by six or seven rounds while all three judges voted for him.

In looking for Tunney’s next opponent, and following the announcement that Dempsey was retiring due to eye trouble, the promoter, Tex Rickard, set up an eliminating series at Madison Square Garden, NYC, New York involving the former undefeated light heavyweight champion, Jack Delaney, Johnny Risko, Jack Sharkey and Tom Heeney, who had fought a 12-round draw at that venue on 13 January 1928.

After Heeney beat Delaney (w pts 15 on 1 March 1928) and Sharkey lost to Risko (l pts 15 on 12 March 1928), the obvious match was Heeney v Risko, but with Tunney looking to retire in the immediate future and the fact that Heeney had already beaten Risko (w pts 10 on 26 October 1927 at the Olympia Arena, Detroit, Michigan), Rickard circumvented the elimination route by matching the New Zealander with Tunney for the title.

Meanwhile, further ‘black’ heavyweight title defences for George Godfrey, if you could call them that, came against Jack Townsend (w pts 4 at the Olympia BC, Manhattan, NYC, New York on 22 November 1927) and Clem Johnson (nd-w co 1 at the Waltz Dream Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey on 21 November 1927).