Originally Posted by Mendoza
Johnson was champion from 1908-1915. During this time line the top three challengers were Langford, Jeanette, McVey. You could argue Smith as well for a short period of time. Toward the tail end from 1914-1915, you could argue Wills, and Willard were in the top three. Johnson most certainly drew the color line vs. Langford, Jeanette, and Mcvey. There were big time money offers in the papers from known promoters, and the matches could have happened in Australia, or Europe. Johnson wanted easier marks vs. white fighters who were either very small, old/washed up, or journeyman level opponents. In other words, he drew the color line…well sort of. He did face Jim “ Battling “ Johnson, who was black, and the result for Johnson according to the NY time, and book ( Unforgivable Blackness ) was a lucky draw. There was no re-match! Joe Jeanette said when Johnson became champion he forgot his old friends, and drew the color line against his own people. Harsh, but true words.
Smith and Willard were white. Oddly enough, Smith floored Johnson in a four round exhibition match ( Source NY times ) to the point where Johnson’s manager halted the match when Johnson was down and dazed. This happened in 1909 while Johnson was champion. Willard of course, KO’d Johnson in 1915 and took the title.
In summary, Johnson avoided the best black challengers while champion. He fought one black fighter, and the match was a draw. Johnson was KO’d by the best white fighter he fought in a real match, and could not finish the exhibition match vs the other top rated white fighter in Smith. All of the above happened from 1908-1915.
Could you image if Ali avoided Foreman, Frazier, and Norton as champion? Or if Marciano avoided Charles, Moore and Walcott? History would have blasted them. But Johnson gets a pass. Such is the agenda…