1938-10-28 John Henry Lewis w pts 15 Al Gainer, The Arena, New Haven, Connecticut, USA - NBA/GB
1938-10-28 John Henry Lewis w pts 15 Al Gainer, The Arena, New Haven, Connecticut, USA - NBA/GB. Referee: Dave Fitzgerald. Carrying the fight to Gainer (170) from the off, Lewis (174) jabbed, hooked and sunk his right repeatedly under the heart to win at least ten of the 15 rounds, according to Nat Fleischer of The Ring magazine. Although the challenger looked to counter most of the time, Lewis’ blocking of blows was superb and when Gainer got through he was unable push on. Gainer’s best rounds were the eighth through the 11th when he fought viciously to turn the tide, but Lewis came back strongly right through to the end even though he had to take several stiff punches to the jaw before retaining his title by a unanimous decision. Prior to the fight, there was much controversy after Lewis and Gainer weighed in at 10am instead of 1pm without the press being present.
Afterwards, while the press began to smell a rat as to whether Lewis could continue to make the weight, it was reported that he would be challenging Joe Louis for the heavyweight crown at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York on 25 January 1939. At the same time, despite any legal action forthcoming, the NYSAC announced that because Gus Lesnevich had taken himself off to Australia, the remaining three men that they saw contesting their vacant title, Melio Bettina, Gainer and Tiger Jack Fox, would go into the hat with first two out meeting in a semi-final leg. Thus, on 29 November, despite Lewis still claiming to be the champion, Fox defeated Gainer (w pts 15 at The Coliseum, Bronx, NYC, New York) and went forward to fight Bettina to decide the championship. Meanwhile, Lewis lost his heavyweight title challenge against Louis when he was put down three times in the opening round and stopped.