John L. Sullivan vs. James J. Corbett

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Engraving of Sullivan landing a left against Corbett.

James J Corbett 178 lbs beat John L Sullivan 212 lbs by KO at 1:30 in round 21

  • World Heavyweight Title
  • Ticket


  • Sullivan and Corbett boxed an exhibition in San Francisco on June 26, 1891.
  • Sullivan said he would fight any and all challengers—except blacks—for a purse of $25,000 and a side bet of $10,000, winner take all. Corbett and his manager, William A. Brady, quickly raised the $10,000 for the side bet and requested a shot at the crown.
  • Sullivan was a 4 to 1 favorite.
  • Tickets were scaled from $5 to $15.
  • There was a crowd of 10,000 at the Olympic Club in New Orleans.
  • From the International Boxing Hall of Fame:
The match was hardly competitive. Corbett boxed beautifully, dancing around the ring, sidestepping Sullivan's irate rushes and peppering him with counters. In the 21st round, with Sullivan tiring badly, Corbett unleashed a series of punches that staggered the champion. Sullivan, bleeding and battered, retreated to a corner and grabbed hold of the top rope. Too tired to hold his hands up, a right hand dropped Sullivan to his knees. Sullivan managed to rise, but a crushing left-right combination pitched Sullivan forward on his face and chest. Finally he was counted out.
  • This was Sullivan's only defeat and his last fight.