1928-08-29 Johnny Hill w pts 15 Newsboy Brown, The Stadium, Clapton, London, England - GB

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1928-08-29 Johnny Hill w pts 15 Newsboy Brown, The Stadium, Clapton, London, England - GB. Referee: Sam Russell. Billed as a world title fight and generally recognised as one prior to the formation of the BBBoC as we know it today, Hill, the British champion, was an extremely adept and clever boxer who had previously beaten Emile Pladner on points over 15 rounds to win the British version of the European title. Despite the IBU not recognising Hill because full championship conditions were not applied due to a lack of judges, with the Scot being thought of as a good bet for the world title he was matched with the Newsboy, who held the Californian version of the title. Watched by over 50,000 spectators, the fight itself was cleanly contested from the opening bell. Press reports generally stated that the lanky Hill (111½) had the advantage in nine of the rounds, while Brown (110¼), the heavier puncher of the pair, was always dangerous. Without a doubt it was extremely exciting, the last few rounds producing a frenetic pace as Brown went all out for a knockout, but it was not enough to change the referee’s opinion at the final bell.

There is little doubt that Brown lost his title claim on the result, Hill being recognised as a worthy claimant by many, including California and, eventually, the NYSAC, especially after Izzy Schwartz was outpointed over 12 rounds by Pladner at the Cycling Velodrome, Paris, France on 1 December. Although it was contested at catchweights, with the Frenchman winning clearly support for Schwartz in New York was on the wane. In a letter written on 12 December to David Hill, the father and coach of Johnny, Charles Harvey, the chairman of the NYSAC, stated quite clearly that the NYSAC recognised Hill’s claim was as good as any and wanted him to meet an American (presumably Schwartz) for their version of the title.

Unfortunately, support for Hill diminished somewhat on 7 February 1929 after he was knocked out at the Cycling Velodrome by Pladner, despite the match being made at 115lbs and technically not involving his 112lbs title claim. Even the new BBBoC failed to get behind him when he twice defended his British title in 1929 against Ernie Jarvis (winning on points over 15 rounds at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London on 21 March and by a tenth-round disqualification at the Cartyne Greyhound Track, Glasgow on 29 June), by refusing to allow world championship billing to be attached.

However, the promoter, Jeff Dickson, still felt Hill had plenty to offer, booking him to meet Frankie Genaro for the NBA title at the Royal Albert Hall on 17 October 1929. Shockingly, having gone to meet the American as he docked in England on 27 September 1929, Dickson was informed that Hill had passed away after contracting pneumonia and suffering a burst blood vessel in a lung.