Jack Johnson vs. Stanley Ketchel

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Ketchel floors Johnson in the 12th round.
Johnson watches as Ketchel is counted out.

1909-10-16 : Jack Johnson 205½ lbs beat Stanley Ketchel 170¼ lbs by KO in round 12 of 20

  • Location: Mission Street Arena, Colma, California, USA
  • Referee: Jack Welsh

Notes

  • The fighters received 60 percent of the gross receipts, of which Johnson got 65 percent and Ketchel 35 percent. Each boxer posted a forfeit of $5,000 to go as a side bet.
  • Ketchel wanted the fight to be scheduled for 45 rounds, but Johnson insisted on a 20-round bout.
  • The fight was originally scheduled to take place on October 12, but it was moved back four days. The promoter, Jim Coffroth, changed the date for business reasons, saying Saturday was a better day than Tuesday to draw a crowd.
  • Johnson was a 10 to 4 favorite to win and even money to stop Ketchel in less than 15 rounds.
  • There was a crowd of over 10,000. Fully 3,000 were turned away. The promoter stated after the fight that $40,000 had been taken in.
  • Ketchel was down in the second and third rounds.
  • The Ring ranked Johnson vs. Ketchel as the 25th greatest title fight all-time in the Holiday 1996 issue.
  • The Associated Press reported on October 17, 1909:
The climax of the fight was crowded into 34 seconds. At the beginning of the last round there was little to judge from in preceding rounds to pick the winner. The men met in the center of the ring, clinched and wrestled to Johnson's corner. The negro broke way, and, poising himself, dashed at Ketchel, who sprang to meet him. Ketchel drove his right at the black's lowered head. Johnson ducked and the blow landed behind the ear. He stumbled, fell and stretched out on the floor, landing heavily.
Ketchel backed toward the ropes with a smile glimmering on his battered, blood-streamed face. Johnson rose slowly, as though dazed. As he straightened to his knees his eyes encountered Ketchel's, and with the fury of a wild beast he leaped across the ten feet that separated them. His right fist shot to the white man's jaw. The left crashed to the stomach and the right swung again with the speed of lightning, catching Ketchel's head as he reeled back from the onslaught. Ketchel dropped in a heap, and Johnson, unable to stop his rush, sprawled across his beaten rival's legs and fell full length himself.
The negro sprang to his feet with a bound, but Ketchel was out. Once, as the seconds were counted over him, he feebly moved his arms and rolled his head. He gave not another sign of life, and his seconds picked him from the floor, barely conscious. Johnson was still dazed. He clung to the ropes and looked about him in a bewildered way. The crowd broke into murmurings and seemed unable to realize that the fight was over.
  • Legend has it that the two fighters agreed to extend the fight the full 20 rounds for the sake of the motion picture exhibitors. However, Ketchel saw an opening in the 12th round and went for the knockout, flooring Johnson with a right. When Johnson got up, Ketchel moved in for the kill and was knocked out by a massive right from the champion. As Ketchel was counted out, Johnson brushed off a pair of Ketchel's teeth that had embedded in his glove. Johnson allegedly said, "He crossed me and I made him pay for it."

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