1932-03-18 George Nichols w pts 10 Dave Maier, The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA - NBA

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1932-03-18 George Nichols w pts 10 Dave Maier, The Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, USA - NBA. Referee: Phil Collins. Scorecards: 57-43, 51-49, 49-51. Billed for the vacant NBA title, and a battle between southpaws, the Chicago Tribune reported that at the final bell the three judges barely knew what to do after what had been a vicious, hard-punching, devil-may-care affair. Both Nichols (163) and Maier (173½) had whaled away at each other with so much force that one or the other might have been knocked all the way home and back again. Giving away over ten pounds in weight, Nichols won the split decision and Maier, who rallied in the closing sessions with left hooks and right-hand counters, would recall: “I think I was robbed, but what could I do about it”.

On the same bill as Nichols v Maier, Baxter Calmes and Harry Ebbets outpointed Jim Braddock and Roscoe Manning, respectively, over ten rounds. Manning had lost a disputed decision to Calmes in the elimination series and a meeting between the winners of these two contests was seen as a way of finding Nichols’ first challenger. However, Ebbets and Calmes, by now fighting as a heavyweight, were never matched and Nichols failed to make a defence. Then, after losing three of his next four fights the NBA stripped him of the title in December, ahead of announcing the following month that if a promoter matched any two men from their top five - Maxie Rosenbloom, Billy Jones, Mickey Walker, Bob Godwin and Joe Knight - they would recognise the winner as the new champion.

Ultimately, it was Knight, who was unbeaten in his last 19 fights, having wins over Rosenbloom, Godwin, Nichols and Battling Bozo during that time, and Godwin (who had two draws and a points loss against Rosenbloom during the same period) who contested the crown. Interestingly, pre-fight articles in both the Palm Beach Post and Miami Herald suggested that Knight was already considered by the NBA, a body which governed ring activities in 33 States, as their champion and would thus be defending the title.