Tom Sharkey vs. James J. Corbett (2nd meeting)

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James J Corbett 183 lbs lost to Tom Sharkey 178 lbs by DQ in round 9 of 20

  • Date: 1898-11-22
  • Location: Lenox A.C., New York, New York, USA
  • Referee: John Honest Kelly
  • Purse was $20,000 USD
  • Gate Receipts exceeded $47,000 USD
  • Attendance was close to 10,000 persons

James J. Corbett, coming off a loss to Cornish legend Bob Fitzsimmons, was determined to get a second try at the title he once held. In his first bout after a year of inactivity, Corbett took on rugged contender Tom Sharkey. Corbett had previously drawn with the sailor (Sharkey) and was trying to record a win that would propel him into the heavyweight picture once more.

In the second round Corbett was dropped by a right hand swing to the jaw by Sharkey. It was the only knockdown of the fight. Sharkey was on his man from the get-go setting a terrific pace, shifting his attack from head to body and back again. Corbett then was forced to fight on a dime with the hard-punching sailor. Corbett managed to get in several punches per round, but none seemed to have any effect on the iron-jawed ex-tar.

Corbett and Sharkey, prior to the bout, had agreed to break cleanly and not punch on the clinch. This agreement would help Corbett, because clinching was extremely important for "Gentleman Jim," as he would be "out-muscled" by Sharkey if he were to exchange with him too long. In the ninth (according to contemporary accounts) Corbett hit Sharkey low and the latter protested to the referee. There was a lively exchange in which Corbett may have been getting the worst of it. According to Referee Kelly, Corbett's man McVey attempted to climb through the ropes but was blocked by a policeman. Seconds later the same fellow crawled into the ring and Kelly was forced to order the men to their corners, whereupon he declared all bets were off and Corbett was disqualified. Kelly later told reporters that he considered the interference by McVey to have been premeditated, and for this reason he had called off all wagers.

McVey was later accused in print of having taken $5,000 USD to throw the fight in favour of Sharkey. It was later revealed that many hundreds of thousands of dollars had been placed on the Sailor late in the day by Western books. Sharkey and Corbett were likely not involved in the scam.

The next day, Corbett objected to his cornerman's actions, saying that in the ninth round he felt, " decidedly good fettle, ready and willing to go a long journey. The sailor could not whip me in a week..."