Tommy Burns vs. Philadelphia Jack O'Brien (3rd meeting)

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1907-05-08 : Tommy Burns 175 lbs beat Philadelphia Jack O'Brien 167 lbs by PTS in round 20 of 20

  • Location: Naud Junction Pavilion, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Referee: Charles Eyton

This was the third match between Burns and O'Brien, the first being a decision victory for O'Brien and the second a draw. But there were many who felt that Burns got the best of the action and, during negotiations for a third fight, O’Brien refused to fight unless Burns would agree to take a dive. In order to get O’Brien to sign the contract, Burns agreed but then double-crossed the arrangement by telling all to promoter Tom McCarey on fight night, May 8, 1907. McCarey subsequently went before the audience and declared that all bets were off, revealing the plot. Stunned by the change of events, O’Brien, already sitting on his stool in his corner, had to be shoved out into the ring to fight. He subsequently back-pedaled away from the oncoming champion for a full twenty rounds until referee Charles Eyton granted Burns his decision.
Fort Wayne Journal says Burns weighed 175 pounds.

According to Burns himself, the disagreement was around the rules governing in-fighting. O'Brien wanted the "clean-break" with no punching allowed in a clinch and Burns wanted no such restriction. Burns said O'Brien refused to fight him unless the "clean-break" was in force. (O'Brien had previously demanded the same from Sam Berger in their negotiations. Los Angeles Herald)

Sources:

Ward, Georffrey C. Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
The Real Story of the Burns-O'Brien Fake Fight by Tommy Burns, Tacoma Times: [1][2]