John L. Sullivan vs. Alf Greenfield (1st meeting)

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John L Sullivan 198 lbs beat Alf Greenfield 170 lbs by TD in round 2

  • Date: 1884-11-18
  • Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
  • Greenfield, of Birmingham, England, was the recent victor in a British boxing tournament put together by former champion Jem Mace. He was subsequently brought to America by National Police Gazette publisher Richard Kyle Fox so that he could face world champion Sullivan. Prior to the fight, Sullivan, Fox, Greenfield, and Patrick Sheedy (Sullivan's manager) were all arrested for organizing an illegal prize fight and their case was decided before the New York State Supreme Court on Monday, November 17, 1884. The Judge ruled that, because both fighters promised not to knock the other one out, they should be allowed to continue with their 'scientific exhibition.'

    The bout took place the next night, November 18 (source: John L. Sullivan and His America). It was held at Madison Square Garden, before a crowd of 7,000. The first round of the match showed little action, with Greenfield landing the few telling blows. Sullivan came on in the second, attacking ferociously, while Greenfield resorted to holding. Pinned in a corner, Greenfield suffered a cut above his left eye, prompting Clubber Williams, Chief of Police to step in and end the affair. Announcer Billy Williams declared Sullivan the winner.

    Both fighters were arrested immediately after the bout and taken to the police station. One thousand angry fans followed on foot, braving a bad snow storm. Both men were charged with participating in a prize fight. Both made bail and were released, pending trial. The angry crowd took several hours to disperse, despite the snow and cold.