Originally Posted by mcvey
As the two posts above mine have said Johnson , as he began to decline through his lifestyle ,and lack of training, did not pursue a fight with Langford, who had improved since his one sided thrashing in 1906. Langford would have been his most dangerous challenger,and to beat him,he would have needed to be in the sort of shape he had not been since he fought Jeffries in 1910.
Lets be clear Johnson many times stated in print he would defend against anybody who could come up with his price ,$30,000, the amount Burns received for defending against him back in 1908.
Johnson signed at least three times to fight Jeannette, but the fight was vetoed by the authorities.
Johnson stated he would fight Langford at the NSC in London, but their derisory offer of £3000 meant the fight never happened there.
Curley and Coffroth ,the two leading promoters in the US at the time, both stated," two coloured fighters do not draw".
There are newspaper articles saying there were big offers for Johnson to fight Langford in France, and Australia.
How serious they were is a moot point .
On December the 19th 1913, Johnson defended his title against Battling Jim Johnson, the next day Langford fought Jeannette also in Paris.
How much did Langford get for the fight?
The most vociferous haters of Jack Johnson say Langford is a certainty to have beaten Johnson after 1910 .
I disagree.The heaviest weight we have for Langford for 1910 is 170lbs in Sept when he beat Jeannette.
In April of that year he scaled 166lbs for a fight with Jim Barry.
.At the beginning of 1910 Langford lost to Fireman Jim Flynn, a man Johnson toyed with twice.
I can't see Langford with a realistic chance of beating Johnson in 1910.
1911 .In April ,scaling 161lbs Langford drew with Mcvey,a man Johnson thrashed three times.
In August weighing 180lbs Langford stopped Jack O Brien, haters of Johnson say O Brien was past his best when he managed a draw with Johnson over 6 rds, well that was in 1909 two years earlier, I doubt he had improved.
In September weighing 178 Langford beat Joe Jeannette great result.
December, scaling 170 Langford lost to McVey, not so great.
1913 Langford drew with McVey, and Colin Bell .
September Langford scaled 185lbs for John Lester Johnson.
Weighing 199.5 Langfrod drew with Jeannette
November Langford lost to Gun Boat Smith some thought he deserved the win.
Clay Moyle undoubtedly has more insight into this fight.
Langford rounded out 1913 by beating Jeannette, Sam weighed 185.75 .
1914 May. Langford drew with the emerging Harry Wills ,Langford weighed 187lbs
August, Langford drew with Battling Jim Johnson.
October Langford drew with Jeannette.
Langford was 199.5lbs.
My tortuous point is Langford's fluctuations in weight,and his unpredictable results indicate that.
1. He himself was not guaranteed to be in the kind of shape needed to challenge Johnson for his title.
2. He was no certainty to win that title, if given the opportunity.
Did Johnson draw the colour line? No imo, I believe he drew the $$$$ line.
This is an excellent post, and one which cant really be disputed factually.
Just some other things to consider also,
Like Dempsey and others, Johnson rarely defended at all. In a sense you could say he lived the high life, though i am not sure many would choose his version of the high life over dempseys.
Johnson dominated the three top contenders when they actually fought. Not much more he could do. It would almost be like accusing Sonny Liston for Ducking Floyd Patterson in his comeback, had he won the title. Not much more johnson could really do.
The three guys mentioned, with hindsight were the three top contenders. I am not so sure they are the out and out standout contenders at any point in time for anything other than longevity. Certainly they were not standouts like Tyson was for Spinks, Lennox was for Briggs, Johnson for Jeffries (or even vice versa) etc.
Jim Johnson is one guy i feel is dreadfully underated and underappreciated today. This is a guy who has fought on even terms with Johnson, mcvey, Jeanette, Langford, Tate, arguably even Wills, who has never (from my recollection) been stopped by any of those guys and yet he is just considered a journeyman boxer who was nothing special and simply a battler. I dare say if he was known as Sugar Jim Johnson, bonecrusher Jim Johnson or maybe even Gunboat Jim Johnson he would have a huge following and resume today.
The Wills situation would have been interesting. Hypothetically, if Johnson had rematched and beat Willard, or even better say Dempsey, would a Wills fight be made. Wills was the second highest paid and best drawing fighter of the Dempsey era and definitely the most dangerous challenger. Presumable after beating Dempsey, Johnson could write his own price against white challengers. This would be a very interesting and telling situation, i think.