James J. Jeffries vs. Bob Fitzsimmons (2nd meeting)

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1902-07-25 : Bob Fitzsimmons 172 lbs lost to James J. Jeffries 219 lbs by KO in round 8 of 20

  • Location: The Arena, San Francisco, California, USA
  • Referee: Eddie Graney
  • World Heavyweight Title
  • Gate: $31,880
  • Purses: Jeffries - $14,346, Fitzsimmons - $9,561
  • Jeffries was a 10 to 4 favorite

Jeffries had won the championship in 1899 from the extraordinary Bob Fitzsimmons at Coney Island, New York. Fighting out of a crouch, Jeffries had bullied his way inside the Champion’s guard and battered his ribs, forcing a stoppage in the eleventh round. It took a few years for this rematch to happen, this time in San Francisco. While some took note of the 39-year-old Cornishman’s advancing years and figured the younger, stronger and much heavier champion would likely prevail, others eyed Fitzsimmons’s thirst for revenge. Rumor had it that the challenger was so determined to prevail, he planned to load his gloves with Plaster of Paris.

“Let him do it,” said Jeffries. “I’ll flatten him anyway.”

Jeffries had reason to be confident. The much bigger man, he outweighed Fitzsimmons by more than forty pounds. Despite this, Fitzsimmons took the fight to the champion in the early rounds and inflicted a vicious battering. As early as the second, Jeffries was bleeding from the challenger’s sharp punches which soon broke Jeffries's nose and opened deep cuts around both eyes. But Jeffries was nothing if not tough, and he waited patiently for his opportunity to strike back.

It came in the eighth round. After several blistering exchanges, Fitzsimmons inexplicably paused, lowered his guard, and spoke to Jeffries, taunting him. The champion’s response was a hard right to the belly followed by a thunderous left hook that put Fitzsimmons on the floor and ended the fight. When the challenger later approached the champion to congratulate him, Jeffries regarded Fitzsimmons through swollen, bleeding eyes and said, “You’re the most dangerous man alive.” Anyone looking at the combatants’ faces would have been astonished to learn the unmarked fighter was the loser, while the man sporting a visage marred by lumps and bloody gashes had proven victorious.

It was later revealed that instead of gauze wraps, the Cornishman had used electrical tape. No objections had been made at the time.

The manner of the bout’s sudden conclusion struck some in the assembled crowd as suspicious. Rumors of a “fix” began to circulate in the days following, though both boxers dismissed such speculation as absurd. “The fight was won fairly and to the best man belongs the laurels,” declared Fitzsimmons.

"Robert Fitzsimmons has forfeited his last claim upon the heavyweight championship of the world. He stood off James J. Jeffries for eight rounds, and before receiving his quietus had astonished the thousands of spectators by his brilliant work. As early as the second round Fitzsimmons had Jeffries bleeding profusely from mouth and nose. Again and again he landed on his bulky opponent, getting away in such a clever manner that he roused the big crowd to enthusiastic cheering. It seemed indeed that Jeffries could scarcely stand the pace. But the 8th round came and after a series of hot exchanges Fitzsimmons paused with his guard down and spoke to the champion. The latter's reply was two terrific blows that saved him the championship." The Mansfield News

Post fight comments:

  • "The fight was won fairly and to the best man belongs the laurels." Bob Fitzsimmons
  • "You're the most dangerous man alive." James Jeffries to Bob Fitzsimmons
  • "If a non-spectator had seen Jeffries and Fitzsimmons two minutes after the fight Fitz would have been picked the winner. There was not a mark on him, while Jeffries face was bloody and beaten to a pulp. Only Jeffries' stamina and capacity for punishment saved him." George Siler, noted referee and writer

The Arena was an octagonal building at the corner of Valencia and Fourteenth streets, and had been recently built by the San Francisco Athletic Club. It had entrances at Valencia and Jessie streets, and could seat between 8,000 and 10,000. 8 July 1902 San Francisco Call [1]

New York Times - July 26, 1902