1927-10-22 Pinky Silverberg w disq 7 (15) Ruby Bradley, State Armory, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA - NBA

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1927-10-22 Pinky Silverberg w disq 7 (15) Ruby Bradley, State Armory, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA - NBA. Referee: Jigger McCarthy. The situation surrounding this fight is shrouded in mystery. Advertised as being for the NBA championship, it was reported by The Ring magazine as Silverberg becoming champion of the world in the eyes of 24 States and four countries.

Let us examine the facts. On 12 October it was stated in the Ansonia Evening Sentinel that the Connecticut State Commissioner, Thomas E. Donohue, who was also the president of the NBA, had sanctioned Silverberg v Bradley as a battle for the world championship, and a few days later the matchmaker informed the public that the winner would receive a belt provided by the Everlast Sporting Goods Company. However, on 19 October, the Boston Post reported that although the match-up was supposed to have been sanctioned by the NBA as a title bout, at their convention the previous day in Toledo, Ohio, the Association had stated that a series of eliminators were being set up to find a suitable champion and no mention was made of Silverberg (who collected his championship belt a few days after his victory over Bradley at a presentation ceremony) and Bradley. Despite all this, Donohue, who should have got the backing of the NBA before making any kind of announcement, was quoted by the Bridgeport Telegram on 21 October as saying that as the Commissioner of the Connecticut Boxing Board he would recognise the bout as being for the flyweight championship of the world. He went on to say that he would also endeavour to get NBA recognition.

The fight itself ended in controversial fashion with Silverberg (112), behind on points after making a slow start in order to conserve his energy, on the floor from a Bradley (110½) mistimed uppercut that hit him in the groin. Unable to carry on, it was a disappointing end and one that did not go down well with the fans, some of whom thought Silverberg could have continued, while others felt that Bradley deserved what he got. Back in the dressing room, and after the doctor declared that there was evidence of Silverberg being struck low, it was announced that the referee had disqualified Bradley.

Meanwhile, after a chunky, hard-hitting newcomer, Frenchy Belanger, beat Newsboy Brown (w pts 10 at The Coliseum, Toronto, Canada on 28 October), the man most people at the time recognised as Fidel LaBarba’s heir apparent, he immediately asked the NBA to retrospectively recognise the fight as an eliminator. Then, on 16 November, Belanger was matched to fight Frankie Genaro, who had resigned from the NYSAC eliminators, and a week later, on 23 November, the NBA said that they would recognise the fight as a final eliminator, the winner to meet Ernie Jarvis with a view to deciding their version of the title.

The NBA saw Jarvis as the British claimant to the European title after victories over France’s Francois Moracchini (w rtd 11 at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, England on 9 December 1926) and Belgium’s Michel Montreuil (w pts 15 at The Ring, Southwark, London on 17 January), and following Belanger’s win over Genaro (w pts 10 at The Coliseum, Toronto) on 28 November the NBA title decider was pencilled in for the following month.

What really happened within the offices of the NBA is still unclear, but after 23 November it appears obvious that Silverberg was not recognised by the main body of the Association as champion, despite him owning the belt. It is also obvious that after all the statements given out by the NBA they would have been looking for the opportunity to strip Silverberg. According to the Ansonia Evening Sentinel, dated 22 December, he was formally stripped within days of losing on points over ten rounds against Bradley in their return match at the Bridgeport Armory on 4 December. Although contested above the championship weight, no consideration whatsoever was given to Silverberg fighting on gamely with a broken hand, while the winner, Bradley, who was inside 112lbs, tried in vain to claim a title that had already been promised to the winner of Belanger v Jarvis.