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Old 06-03-2011, 12:39 AM   #650
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Default Re: How good was Dempsey's title reign?

Originally Posted by Cmoyle View Post
My only interest was pertaining to the comment about fixed Miske fights, nothing else. Here's some dope on the Brennan - Miske fight:

"Billy hurt Brennan with right and left punches to the jaw early in the second round, and then chose to coast the rest of the way, clinching often, and using his shoulder to push Brennan away. He won this round as well. After the round, the referee, Leo Shea, went to Brennan’s corner and warned him to put forth more effort.
The referee’s warning seemed to have the desired effect on Brennan, as he became the aggressor in the beginning of the third round, landing a number of blows to Billy’s head. Billy covered up and clinched. When they were separated, Billy hurt Brennan with a hard left to the mouth. He rushed in and landed a series of lighter punches and Brennan fell to the canvas, rolling just outside the ropes. He rolled back inside the ring, and was attempting to rise as the referee’s count reached five, when the bell rang to end the round, saving him from a possible knockout.
Brennan’s seconds rushed into the ring and lifted him to his feet. He started after Miske, apparently unaware the round had ended, but his aides grabbed him and directed him toward his corner. As he turned he saw the referee, Shea, and shouted at him: “You hit me! What did you hold my hand for?
Shea walked toward Brennan’s corner and replied, “You’re crazy, sap, I wasn’t near you at all!”
When the bell rang to start the fourth round, Brennan appeared groggy as he left his corner to meet Billy. When the two men came together, Billy threw a big right that landed on Brennan’s jaw and he dropped like a rock. As Shea counted off the seconds, Brennan tried to rise, but he floundered about the floor, unable to regain the use of his legs.
At the count of ten, Billy, the referee, and others helped Brennan to his stool. Tommy Gibbons, who was in Omaha for a week’s engagement at the World Theater, and who arrived midway through the fight, stepped into the ring and congratulated Billy on his victory. Then he hurried over to Brennan’s corner.
“Can I help you any, Bill?” Tommy asked Brennan.
Brennan was still dazed and unable to answer at first. But then he opened his eyes and saw Tommy. “Tom, did you see that referee hold my arm? He held me and Miske socked me right on the button. I wasn’t right after that!”
Gibbons helped apply cold cloths to Brennan’s head and then helped him out of the ring.
After the fight, Tommy told reporters he had been late in arriving, and had only witnessed the last half of the third round, and what little there was of the fourth and final round.
“There was no fake about the knockout,” said Tommy. “Brennan was hurt. What went on before I got there, of course, I cannot comment on. But Brennan was really hurt when I saw him. I’ve fought Miske five times and I’ve always had a lot of respect for his punching ability. Billy can sock!”

Most of this came from following source: Omaha World-Herald. 5,000 Fans Razz Terrible Fiasco, November 8, 1923.

Brennan obviously performed very poorly, but I don't believe it was a fix.
I have that report as well as others. The fight was considered a travesty and not just because Brennan was grossly out of shape (which was highly unusual for him, moreso for the fact that at 206 he was only ten pounds max over his best fighting weight) or because he fought so poorly. They also talk about how at times when the action began to heat up on both sides one or the other or both fighters would back off and slow down again. Regardless, Brennan had fought Miske, a prime Miske in fact, several times and was never in anything like trouble he supposedly had with Miske. In fact, all of their early fights, when both were healthy and in their primes, were closely contested and disputed fights. One of two things or a combination of two things took place in this fight: 1. Brennan either threw the fight or at least didnt try his best (which I think is at least partly indicated by his lack of condition) or 2. He was so shot after getting dropped and outpointed by Johnson and having been badly injured in his fight with Firpo that he had absolutely no punch resistence and no business being anywhere near a ring. Either way neither one bodes very well for those arguing that this is somehow a high water achievement for Miske. I would pose the question that if a dying man (and Miske was certainly dying at this point in his career) was more fit to be in the ring than a guy who was supposedly so shot that he was beaten, and beaten badly, by the dying man thats pretty sad. I mean honestly, thats worse, and about as significant a win as Holyfield fight and beating Brian Nielson.

My personal estimation of his career is that his 1918 loss to Dempsey signalled the beginning of the end of his career as a serious contender. When Greb beat him in 1919 that pretty much solidified it and by the time he lost to Levinsky in 1919 he didnt need to be considered a contender anymore (That fight was filmed for those keeping score). It was after this fight that he retired due to his Kidney ailment and only returned when his automobile dealership went belly up and lawsuits forced him back into the ring to try to pay off his debts. He certainly hadnt done anything to earn a shot at Dempsey in a minimum of two years and I would argue longer. Dempsey knew he was sick, he admitted this several times and the thing that gets me about this is that he attacked Miske with vicious body punches. "I wanted to get it over with and get him out of there" he said in an interview I have with him. Kind of cold IMO. By this time, as Ive stated several times it was fairly well known within boxing circles that Miske was seriously ill. Sportwriters had written about it on and off since 1919 and, again, discussed it fairly heavily during the buildup to the 1920 Dempsey fight. Its no stretch to assume that fighters (who were a pretty tight nit group in those days) were willing to play ball to help Miske out. Even if they didnt conciously how hard are you going to try to kill the guy across from you who you know is dying? Especially when he was as well liked in the community as Miske. Which is another thing that makes me think people were willing to be sympathetic to him. Ive never read a bad word written about the guy from ANYONE in regards to his person.
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