Max Baer vs. Frankie Campbell

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Max Baer 197 lbs beat Frankie Campbell 182 lbs by TKO in round 5 of 10

  • Date: 1930-08-25
  • Location: Recreation Park, San Francisco, California, USA
  • Referee: Toby Irwin

Baer strutted about the ring before the fight, wearing a sneering grin. He paid no attention at all to the man he was to fight. Frankie smiled with confidence as he gazed across the canvas at his opponent. When the bell sounded, Max pressed in immediately, forcing it, letting his punches go fast and hard. Frankie rushed Max to the ropes time and again, forcing him back by sheer energy of attack, forcing him to cover. Baer met his attack with grim purpose. Frankie's seconds Tillie Herman and Ray Carlin taunted Baer from the corner in an effort to break his concentration. Baer ignored their jibes and suddenly whipped over a right hand to Campbell's jaw which dropped him to the canvas. Campbell showed the experience of a campaigner by taking a full nine count, then got up strong and unhurt, to attack again. Max was awarded the round.

As the second round began, Frankie's seconds again jeered Baer. Max attacked Frankie furiously and would not be driven off. He landed blow after heavy blow, and at one point was ordered to elevate his sights. It was a wonder Frankie could take it, but he did, fighting back hard. He drove Baer into the ropes. Baer then drove Campbell into his own corner with a rush. Campbell's seconds yelled at him to "keep low" meaning to weave and bob. When he attempted to do so, he was invariably met with a right hand uppercut. Frankie half pushed, half shoved Max to the floor and Frankie's seconds burst into laughter. Referee Toby Irwin waved Campbell to a neutral corner. Campbell stepped over Baer's legs and smiling to himself, walked lightly to his own corner. He looked down at ringside and waved to his wife Elsie, who smiled with pride. Baer, his pride injured, took no count, rolled over, leaped to his feet and rushed after Campbell. Not realizing that Baer was up, Campbell had not turned, when Baer caught him and knocked him into the ropes with a hard left on the side of the jaw. Frankie saved himself from falling by winding his arms around the top rope. Max was strictly within his rights, but was booed by the crowd. Baer continued to hammer him with body blows. Irwin stepped between the men and disentangled Campbell's arms from the ropes. It looked as if he intended to stop the fight, for Campbell had been pounded apparently helpless in a few seconds. But Campbell stepped aside, squared off, and just then the bell rang. Max was awarded the round.

Back in his corner, Tom Maloney overheard Frankie say to his seconds "it feels like something broke in my head." Frankie came out in the third, however, with extreme vigor which lasted through the round. Campbell changed his style and out-boxed his man. He beat Baer all over the ring. Frankie was awarded the round.

Frankie and Max at battle - August 25, 1930 Campbell came back strong in the fourth round, apparently having completely recuperated from the hard beating in the second. He literally ran across the ring to get at Baer. The fighters slugged each other toe to toe every second of the way. Frankie's seconds again jeered Max mercilessly throughout the round. Campbell was knocked groggy twice for a few seconds, but came right back to hammer Baer's body until Baer visibly weakened and slowed up. Campbell was cautioned to elevate his sights, but he was taking a decided lead in the fight. Frankie was awarded the round.

Shortly before 10:30p.m., with honors even, Frankie's seconds sent him out in the fifth round to try for a knockout. As he trotted to the center of the ring, Cal Working yelled to friends at ringside, “We’ve got him, we’ve got him. We’re going to win now.” The jeering and jibing from Campbell's corner escalated to foul language and attacks on Baer and his family. Max's fury was now white hot and he left his corner enraged and determined to score a knockout. He held his long left arm out to stop Campbell's punches, and slugged at him with his right. The blows were slow, but powerful. Max missed, then leaped forward, hitting with terrific speed and force as he drove Frankie to the ropes with a left hook to the stomach. Campbell was just about holding his own until Baer crowded him into a corner and smashed him on the chin with a devastating right hand. That punch alone actually knocked Campbell out. Baer fought like a man possessed as he continued to drive in rights and lefts to Campbell’s unprotected jaw. Campbell was “out” but Baer did not know it. Campbell could not fall down as he was supported on two sides by the ropes. Campbell’s eyes were glassy. He started to fall forward and was straightened up with a left hand to the chin. There was no way to fall but forward, yet Baer was in front of him punching, punching, punching.

Referee Toby Irwin was positioned behind Baer and claimed he was oblivious to the fact that Campbell was out and unable to defend himself. Later Irwin would declare to friends he had waited until "certain" Campbell had been knocked out for fear the audience would claim the fight was faked. He seemed to overlook the fact that as long as Campbell could bob and weave he could let his head "go" with the blows. Pinned in a corner, he had to accept the full force of Baer's punches. Contrary to popular belief, Max's blows did not cause Frankie's head to slam against the corner post. Tillie Herman, in his bright yellow sweater, stood on the steps leading to Campbell's corner. It was his privilege as chief second to enter the ring and stop the bout but he remained in the corner. Cal Working declared later that he and second Larry Morrison had yelled at Irwin to give Baer the fight and that he had “told the cops that they or Toby Irwin ought to stop the fight" then started to climb into the ring. Perhaps he did, but in the pandemonium Irwin could hear nothing but the roar of the crowd demanding that the affair be halted.

Not until Max had taken at least six “free shots” to the head and body and Frankie had crumpled to the canvas did Irwin intervene. While Frankie lay stretched on the floor unconscious, blood oozing from his mouth, nose and ears, Toby Irwin pushed in between Baer and the ropes and posed for a picture, raising Baer’s arm in a token of victory. Frankie was lifted to his corner, but fell unconscious from the stool. He lay sprawled on the canvas in the open air, the cool mist of the fog on his unfeeling face, as his and Baer's seconds worked to rouse him without success.

Source: Max