Jess Willard vs. Jack Dempsey
1919-07-04 : Jack Dempsey 187 lbs beat Jess Willard 245 lbs by RTD in round 3 of 12
- Location: Bay View Park Arena, Toledo, Ohio, USA
- Referee: Ollie Pecord
- Judge: Tex Rickard
- Judge: A Drexel Biddle
- Timekeeper: William Warren Barbour
World Heavyweight Title
On that hot 106-122 degree day in July, when 187-pound William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey unleashed his very first left to the head of 245-pound Jess Willard in the opening round, he dislocated Willard's jaw and knocked him down. He floored Willard seven times in that first round. By the end of the round Dempsey and the crowd thought it was all over.
"Rapid gum-chewing Ollie Pecord was the referee. It was his first championship fight and he was agitated," wrote Dempsey years later for The Ring. (June 1982 issue, pp. 72-82.) Pecord raised Dempsey's hand in victory and the new champ exited the ring.
But then Dempsey was rushed back to the ring to avoid a forfeit, as it had been realized by official time-keeper Warren Barbour that Willard had been saved by the bell at the count of seven. So they fought on.
"By the third round, after having had his jaw broken in several places, his cheekbone crushed, two ribs cracked and four to six teeth knocked out, Willard simply had to give up. By then he was "nothing but a mass of gore." (The Ring magazine, March 1976 issue, p. 24.) According to The Ring, Willard "had to quit when his crushed ribs threatened to puncture a lung." Still there were shouts of "Quitter!" by the crowd. "His manager and handlers did a disappearing act. His eyes were so swollen that a spectator had to lead him back to his dressing room. Spitting blood, he kept mumbling, 'I have $100,000 and a farm in Kansas....'" The Ring, December 1979, p. 72. A rumor later surfaced that Dempsey's left hand had been encased in hardened plaster-of-Paris.
Willard's injuries were exaggerated by the press. Actually, he had been examined by a doctor in his dressing room and found to have suffered a slight fracture of the jaw and other minor contusions. Willard then drove himself back to his hotel room.
- Five-ounce gloves were used in a 20-foot ring.
- On January 26, 1919, former world heavyweight champion Tommy Burns of Canada predicted that Dempsey would defeat Willard and advised all his friends to put their money on him.
- There was considerable disagreement between Referee Pecord and Timekeeper Barbour as to when the towel was actually thrown into the ring. Barbour said it was after the bell rang to start the 4th round.
- The Ring December 1956, "Special Feature" (Were Dempsey's Fists Loaded?)