1946-09-13 Tippy Larkin w pts 12 Willie Joyce, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - NBA/NY

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1946-09-13 Tippy Larkin w pts 12 Willie Joyce, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - NBA/NY. Referee: Frank Fullam. Scorecards: 9-3, 9-3, 10-2. Using the ring to good advantage, the champion fought a clever battle against the hustling Joyce (139) and despite being caught by heavy rights and lefts at times was well in front by the seventh round. However, by then it was clear that Larkin (139¼) was tiring and he found himself trapped in corners where he was forced to take some heavy wallops. Getting a second wind, Larkin came back with solid left jabs to keep the onrushing Joyce off balance and, slipping the swings more and more, he came home a comfortable winner.

It is difficult to assess when Larkin lost the support of the NBA and NYSAC, but by the end of 1946 it appears that he was only recognised in Massachusetts as champion. Due to meet Charley Fusari in an overweight match on 13 December he had pulled out at the last moment, only to be stopped inside nine rounds by the latter on 14 February 1947 at Madison Square Garden after the fight had been rescheduled. In his next contest, weighing 139lbs, he actually outpointed Billy Graham (139¾) over ten rounds at the same venue on 21 March 1947. Not contested at a championship distance it was not given credence as a title fight, although he still had the support of Massachusetts as champion.

If there had been any recognition for him as a champion left outside of Massachusetts, to all intents and purposes Larkin (141) would certainly have forfeited it following a fourth-round kayo defeat by the NBA lightweight champion, Ike Williams (136¼), in a non-title bout at Madison Square Garden on 20 June 1947. The Boxing News report stated that Williams could now claim the 140lbs title if he so wished, but he obviously thought better of it. Despite Larkin not making 140lbs again after the Graham fight, he was still being reported as the Massachusetts recognised champion right up until June 1948, but that is the last we hear of the weight division for six years.

There was a brief glimmer of it being resurrected in 1954, when the Australian Boxing Club initially billed a fight between George Barnes and Freddie Dawson as being for the junior welterweight championship. Dawson said he had claimed the title after beating Irvin Steen on points over 12 rounds at the Pelican Stadium, New Orleans Louisiana on 23 September 1950 when weighing in at 140lbs to his opponent’s 145.

Unable to make a case for the title being involved the match eventually went ahead at 142lbs and no more was heard of the weight class until the NBA, supported by the NYSAC, decided to re-introduce it in May 1959 when a match was made between Kenny Lane and Carlos Ortiz, the number one and two rated lightweights, who were both waiting for a crack at the 135lbs champion, Joe Brown.

The previous year, Lane, who had given Brown a close call for the lightweight championship in July, had beaten Ortiz on points over ten rounds at The Auditorium, Miami, Florida on 31 December in a contest that was considered by many to be an eliminator. With Brown in no hurry to defend against Lane or Ortiz, the official NBA line was that both men and others like them would benefit from having an additional weight class set between the lightweights and welters.