Jack Johnson vs. Philadelphia Jack O'Brien

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1909-05-19 : Jack Johnson 205 lbs drew with Philadelphia Jack O'Brien 162½ lbs by NWS in round 6 of 6

  • Location: National A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Referee: Jack McGuigan

The World Heavyweight Title was at risk because this was a no-decision bout.

"Three or four times during the mix-ups, O'Brien was roughed to the floor, and once he got tangled in the ropes." Philadelphia Inquirer

The Philadelphia Inquirer scored for Johnson. The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader had O'Brien winning three rounds, with two even, and 5th round to Johnson (same report was printed in the New York Sun and Washington Herald). The New York Times ruled it a draw.

Wire reports in multiple newspapers (for example, San Francisco Call) had it a draw. Trenton Times reported that the referee stated he thought O'Brien the winner by a shade.

The Sports Editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer in May 23 issue wrote:

"A half dozen writers, for instance, gave Johnson the credit of having won the bout, but no two of them agreed as to the distance by which he won, and if you read all these accounts you must have come to the conclusion that he won at any distance from a whisker to a city block. And it was the same with the able gentlemen who espoused the O'Brien cause. Some declared that he won all the way, and that but for his willingness to take the initiative there would have been no milling at all, while others gave him the decision solely for the splendid showing he made against such a tremendous physical handicap."

The Philadelphia Item stated that O'Brien soundly out-boxed Johnson.

Stevens Point Daily Journal:

"Jack Johnson, the big colored heavyweight champion, failed to win over Jack O'Brien, the Philadelphia light heavyweight, in a six-round bout. The fight was even and the consensus of opinion was that it should have been a draw, had a decision been permissible. O'Brien's marvelously fast footwork and his superior blocking saved him from damage in several close mixes, and three times he was forced to his knees by the great strength and weight of Johnson in the clinches. It was a fast fight, O'Brien doing the greater part of the leading. Johnson was slow on his feet, and appeared not to be in the best condition. Repeatedly, the champion rushed his smaller antagonist, but seldom landed effectively. A right-hand counter in the fifth round cut O'Brien's right eye, and this was the sum total of the damage done in the six rounds. Johnson had nothing to say after the bout except that he thought he had the better of it. O'Brien was enthusiastic over his showing. He said he had accepted a proposal to meet Al Kaufman in San Francisco in the near future."

All-in-all, it appears this bout was a draw.