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Old 07-01-2012, 06:33 PM   #31
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

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Originally Posted by Seamus View Post
Here's another entity from the same time that the wise old-timers thought to be invincible. A smart lot they were.

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Old 07-01-2012, 07:02 PM   #32
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

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Because Jeff was viewed as invincible, had never lost, was never decked, had been training for the fight for nearly 2 years, was very convincing in saying he would win, and a lot of folks said he looked very good in training, including all of his sparring partners, who picked him to win easily by KO, plus he was a big strong huge imposing dude who had better results against common opponents, and Johnson was consistently underrated. A lot of folks thought Johnson was about to get his comeuppance and get badly exposed. Again, we can look back now and see it otherwise, now that we know the result, and yes there were plenty who questioned Jeff's ability to come back after being out so long, but there were also a LOT of folks who were convinced Johnson was about to get KO'd by a guy who was so great that he did not need to be at his best to do it. Hence, the fight was huge. It would not have been that big of a deal if folks thought Jeff was some shot shell going in, or else they would not have been so interested. This fight was HUGE. Newspapers had massive daily coverage and analysis of this fight and their training for a couple of months before it took place. Again, people bet their hard earned cash on Jeff, and HE was the odds favorite all the way up to the opening bell. If folks thought he was shot and could not come back, they would have bet on Johnson and the odds would have shifted. Folks were that convinced that Jeff would win.
I agree with what you are saying for the common fan but Jeanette and Langford were not only fighters who knew how inactivity effects performance but fighters that fought Johnson so they knew how good he was .. again, I feel their public positions were motivated in part by political correctness and a dislike for Johnson ... as Archie Moore said " they a lll want me to say Marciano was the greatest I ever fought and I often do but it's not the truth, Charie Burley was .. "
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:28 PM   #33
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

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Cool down W. Tell me as you state about "a lot of fantasy matches pit 1 man in his prime against another man out of the ring for FIVE tears "?
Post me the numerous matches you cite above of one man in his prime against another man way out of his prime ?...Almost all great fantasy matches assume both fighters were at their bests...
Alright, maybe I was a little harsh, but really (bold)? I didn't say anything along those lines abd youve falsy assumed on what i posted. I said fights that could have happened at the time but didnt, not this specific example that is the same in every caae.

The classic is full of matches like Bowe Vs Tyson in 1991, Old Foreman Vs Mike Tyson, 92 Lewis Vs 92 Bowe. Now was Foeman, Lewis or Tyson in there prime in any of those fights? No. Fights like, prime Hearns/Leonard/Duran/DeLaHoya/Tito/Mosley/Forest/Whitaker etc Vs Floyd are all examples of at least one fighter not being in their prime as these fits would be contested between LW-WW. The body snatcher Vs Eubank at MW is another example of this.
McCallum's prime weight was at LMW so effectively it isn't a prime for prime match up. Hell, there was even an Ali from the Berbick fight Vs Foreman from the Holyfield fight thread.

I could keep going on, but i'll assume you see the point I'm making?
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:37 PM   #34
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

well we can say Jack Dempsey vs the Ali that fought Holmes...I see an early KO for Dempsey ....Jeffries was a shot fighter and shot is shot....Ali was shot against Holmes but against a slugger like Dempsey or Louis he may have gotten seriously injured.

Jeffries against Johnson was bad but put a prime Langford, Marciano,Louis or Tyson in there or one of the Klitschko's and the man may get killed
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:42 PM   #35
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

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well we can say Jack Dempsey vs the Ali that fought Holmes...I see an early KO for Dempsey ....Jeffries was a shot fighter and shot is shot....Ali was shot against Holmes but against a slugger like Dempsey or Louis he may have gotten seriously injured.

Jeffries against Johnson was bad but put a prime Langford, Marciano,Louis or Tyson in there or one of the Klitschko's and the man may get killed
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:43 PM   #36
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

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I agree with what you are saying for the common fan but Jeanette and Langford were not only fighters who knew how inactivity effects performance but fighters that fought Johnson so they knew how good he was .. again, I feel their public positions were motivated in part by political correctness and a dislike for Johnson ... as Archie Moore said " they a lll want me to say Marciano was the greatest I ever fought and I often do but it's not the truth, Charie Burley was .. "
Moore was in part being sour grapes like Langford was, to some degree. Plus, I'd like to have a nickel for every time a fighter says the best or toughest guy he fought was someone he beat. Moore didn't get KO'd by Burley, but Marciano beat the hell out of him, and this was after Moore said Rocky was overrated and he would own him. Everyone has a plan until they get in there and get hit and have a guy coming with nonstop power and never getting tired, and not as easy to hit as you thought going in.

Anyway, you are right it doesn't always pay to be honest. Not in one's economic interest. Like for instance Langford claiming over and over again until some believed him that he decked Johnson and had him badly hurt and really should have won, blah blah, when every local report said Johnson decked Langford twice and gave him a good beating, and that all Sam proved in that fight was that he could take an ass beating. I suppose if Sam came out and said, 'Johnson beat the crap out of me and is the best in the world, who no one can beat, and will beat the hell out of Jeffries,' that wouldn't help him garner a ton of interest in a rematch bout with Johnson.

Regardless, even Tommy Burns picked Jeffries to win, as did Munroe, Sharkey and Fitz too, all of whom had been in the ring with Johnson at some point, and all but Burns in the ring with Jeff at some point, and I don't think these guys were necessarily just trying to ingratiate themselves, although that is possible.

Of course, there were those who picked Johnson, like John L. Sullivan, Battling Nelson, and Stan Ketchel, and I think they were just rendering their honest opinions. I don't think a guy is being dishonest if he picks Jeff but being honest if he picks Johnson. Sometimes guys just get it wrong.
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:24 PM   #37
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

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Originally Posted by apollack View Post
Plus, I'd like to have a nickel for every time a fighter says the best or toughest guy he fought was someone he beat. Moore didn't get KO'd by Burley, but Marciano beat the hell out of him, and this was after Moore said Rocky was overrated and he would own him. Everyone has a plan until they get in there and get hit and have a guy coming with nonstop power and never getting tired, and not as easy to hit as you thought going in.
One of the great truisms of the sport.

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Of course, there were those who picked Johnson, like John L. Sullivan, Battling Nelson, and Stan Ketchel, and I think they were just rendering their honest opinions. I don't think a guy is being dishonest if he picks Jeff but being honest if he picks Johnson. Sometimes guys just get it wrong.
Since you are knee deep in all this stuff, was Ketchel in Jeffries' camp? I remember reading somewhere that Ketchel wanted to sucker punch and KO Jeffries during the ring intro's because he had seen him train and knew he was completely shot. Stanley supposedly wanted to save the pride of the white race or some such nonsense.

Also, and not to take the steam out of your upcoming work, what was the veracity of Jim Flynn's contention that the Johnson-Jeffries affair, were it to be held as originally planned in San Francisco, was to be a fix?
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:09 PM   #38
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

Hogwash to both.
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:37 PM   #39
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

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Hogwash to both.
Weird. I'll have to dig up where those claims came from. At first I took them as gospel. Then, having not seen anything of the sort repeated by others, I have become skeptical.

edit: The fix story came from Gunboat Smith (not Jim Flynn) in In This Corner. Can't remember where the Ketchel part came from. So, you think Smith was lying? What would his motivation have been? Thanks.

re-edit: just reread Smith's interview for the book. kind of a prick.

Last edited by Seamus; 07-01-2012 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:57 PM   #40
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

After Ketchel picked Johnson to win; when he came to visit Jeff's training camp and watch him train, he was asked to leave, and he did. Johnson asked Ketchel to be his timekeeper, and Stan accepted. So Ketchel was in the Johnnson corner for the fight. Basically Stan had gained a great appreciation for Johnson from their fight. He said Johnson was a whole lot more clever, defensively sound, and a much harder puncher than folks realized.
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:54 AM   #41
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

Adam,

I don't know about Langford really ever having Johnson badly hurt in their one and only fight but I've come to be convinced that he did at least knock Johnson down once during the fight. I can't remember the first source right now. But, as a result of re-reading some memoirs of their mutual Australian trainer, Duke Mullins, recently I found the following:

Dec. 4, 1937 – The Sporting Globe – Duke Mullins memoirs
Johnson was never anxious to talk about Langford. I tried on many occasions to open him up but he changed the subject quickly.

Just before his fight with Burns for the world’s title on Boxing Day, 1908, I asked Johnson if the punch that put him on the floor in his fight against Langford hurt.

“No, Dook,” he said, “I was caught off my balance.”

I bring this up only because I seem to remember arguments taking place from time to time as to whether or not Johnson ever went to the canvas in that fight. Maybe the other source was that book 'Mes Combats', in fact I think it was but I believe some have disputed the accuracy of the account in that booklet.

On the subject of Ketchel's plan to deck Jeffries right before the fight with Johnson I am anxious to hear more about Ketchel's role during the fight. Here's an excerpt from a book written in 1935 by Edward Sullivan titled 'The Fabulous Wilson Mizner.'

"Spectacular as was Ketchel's brief and tragic career, one of the most amazing incidents ever included in the annals of the ring would have been added to it but for the intervention of Wilson Mizner at Reno, Nevada, the night before Jack Johnson defeated Jim Jeffries.

"Stanley knew Jeffries well and liked him, but when we went out to Jeff's camp to see him, Stanley, who had fought Johnson, knew instantly which way this fight 'to maintain White Supremacy' was sure to go. Jeff had been out of the ring for six years and looked it. Further, the pressure of this tricky responsiblity in which he was literally accountable to the white race for the proper defense of it's alleged group superiority, weighed so heavily upon him that he was walking around in a daze. He had done everything possible to get into good condition, but the old boy was simply not there, and knew it.

"Johnson, the Galveston roustabout, was a cagey, able fighter. Whatever his actual abilities, they had been magnified in Jeff's mind so that, uncertain of his own comeback prowess, he was licked before he ever got into the ring.

"When we came away from that visit Stanley was completely preoccupied. We walked along in silence.

"What do you think? I asked Ketchel finally, although I was pretty sure of the answer.

"He's licked,' said Ketchel.

"I thought no more of it as we passed through the hectic scene that was Reno in those pre-fight days. There was a strange and ominous spirit in the throngs that literally chocked all that the town had to offer in service and hospitality. A vast multitue of negroes had come to see this fight and it was freely predicted that, if Johnson won, all these negroes would not get safely home.

"This type of depressed and determined atmosphere, added to the fact that no one could get decent accomodations and were therefore irritable, made that fight crowd like none other I ever encountered. So desperate was the situation about food for example, that places fit for the accomodations of 400 people frequently held 4,000. Gunmen stood at the doors of these joints to see that waiters, who worked for 24 hours, did not escape further and continued service.

"In all of this confusion, a strange determination had come over Ketchel. In the atmophere of that time it was not so wierd as it will sound now, but it was wild enough to give me a terrific start, knowing that Ketchel said only what he meant.

"I've figured this whole thing out,' he said to me the last thing before bedtime, the night before the fight. 'Jeff's going to be disgraced in that ring and I'm going to prevent it.'

"I had the devil of a time drawing any further information from him, but finally he came out with it.

"I'm going to be introduced from that ring tomorrow' he said, 'and I've been over in the arena today, just seeing how my plan will work out. I'll go over to Jeff's corner to shake hands and I'll knock him out cold.'

"There was not the slightest question in the world but what he planned to do it, either. He was absolutely determined.

"I don't care what they think about it,' Ketch said. 'It will save old Jeff from the worst hole he's ever been in - or any fighter has. I can say that he insulted me or threatened me, but I've figured out just how to get out of that arena in the excitement and I don't care what happens about it."

"I was not in the habit of repeating confidences but without any hesitancy, after unavailing argument, I told Rickard and others about Stanley's intention. We deliberately arranged that he could get nowhere near Jeffries when being introduced. I told him I had done so. Tex Rickard would have been in a fine hole if 'Steve' had saved Jeff's honor.

"To his death Ketchel contended that his plan had merit."

So, now I'm wondering if anybody can confirm one way or another if Ketchel ever got anywhere near Jeffries when he was introduced in the ring that day.
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Old 07-02-2012, 01:07 AM   #42
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

Just dug out another book titled 'Rogue's Progress. The Fabulous Adventures of Wilson Mizner' by John Burke (1975) and see the same story repeated in that book. But, Burke writes that Mizner and Ketchel had bet all the money they could raise on Johnson, while harboring the perverse hope that Johnson would get his block knocked off.

Here's the account in the Burke book:

"Ketchel proposed (to Mizner) that at the weighing-in ceremonies, when various celebreties and other fighters would shake hands with Jeffries and Johnson, he would lay his best punch on Jeffries jaw. The blow would be so devestating in both its physical and phsychological effects that the fight would have to be called off. Thus, by Ketchel's corkscrew reasoning, something of the remaining white pride would be salvaged if yet another white man, especially a former champion, wasn't humiliated by the black champion.

Wilson vigorously contested Ketchel's proposed action. Who were a pair of scufflers like Mizner and Ketchel to bear the white man's burden? The white race, he argued, would survive even if Jeffries was knocked out in the first round. Crusader's armor was too snug to fit around the shoulders. And then he delivered the clincher:

"Think of our dough. We've got everything, including borrowed money, tied up in Johnson winning this fight."

Wilson was sweating by the time he persuaded Ketchel not to go through with his knuckle-headed scheme. Events proved his was the right, if unsentimental, course."

No mention of Mizner having to tell Rickard and any others of the plan to prevent it.
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Old 07-02-2012, 01:14 AM   #43
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

I see that yet another book, 'The Legendary Mizner's' by Alva Johnston (1953) repeats the same story in shorter fashion on pages 153-54. It would be nice to find the original source for all of this, i.e., a possible interview with Mizner in a newspaper.
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Old 07-02-2012, 01:56 AM   #44
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

Clay- Thanks for digging that up. I was beginning to think I had lost it and was fabricating things whole cloth. I am not sure where I read it but that was exactly as I remember it.

I am still interested in opinions on Gunboat Smith's contention that the fight was initially a fix, an understanding the Jeffries continued to carry when the location was moved to Reno, but regarding which Johnson disabused him only a night or two before the fight, telling him things were going to be on the level. If so, would that mean all of Jeffries training was only for effect, to look the part... Not sure what to make of old Gunboat's memories or contentions. He certainly seems an ornery old fart in the interview.
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Old 07-02-2012, 02:13 AM   #45
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Default Re: Sam Langford vs James Jeffries 1910

The Ketchel story is hilarious. In a weird way I wish it were true. The whole concoction is absurd, but speaks volumes about what a character Ketchel had to be. Makes me want to know more about the situation and Ketchel in general.
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