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Old 10-11-2007, 11:04 AM   #1
OLD FOGEY
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Default Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

Another poster, perhaps as a joke, opined that Willard might have proven too much for Jeffries with his size and his long left. I don't think that is a joke. Jeff never fought any major opponent over 200 lbs. Willard fought several who were about as big as Jeff, and had wins over Johnson, Moran, Morris, McCarty, and Pelkey, among others.

How does the Willard of 1915 do against a peak Jim Jeffries in a 45 round bout?

Last edited by OLD FOGEY; 10-11-2007 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:09 AM   #2
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

One thing that I want to say at the outset is that my impression of Jeffries is of someone capable of doing the better work of these two. This being the case, when the two start to deteroirate in terms of condition (very obviously this one is going late), Jeffries will take over entirely.

The difference between a durable quality fighter deteriorating and a less skilled fighter deteriorating is massive because the fighter of greater quality is the one capable of taking advantage of the poorer fighters mistakes.

This is presuming a lot, I know but I'm working from the following:

Willard is not more durable than Jeffries (though they are in the same sort of class).

Willard does not have a better chin than Jeffries (though they are in the same sort of class).

Jeffries has the superior skills.

Allowing for all of this I see a deeply horrible late stoppage.
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Old 10-11-2007, 12:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

45 rounds with a sadistic referee? Very hard to make a pick.

I would say that Jeffries has the edge in skill but it's hard to judge because of the lack of film.
When Willard came along, gloved boxing had evolved a bit and while i don't think much of Willard's jab compared to later gloved champions, how good is Jeffries' jab? I have not seen much of it nor do i see fighters of his time make much use of it.

Willard proved his conditioning when he went 26 rounds with Johnson and knocked him out. Johnson was a big guy, though somewhat overweight, old and seemed to be not 100% focused on boxing.

On the other hand, Jeffries as far as i know, never fought a 200+lb guy with good skills and durability to go with it. He also took quite some beatings from smaller fighters. It seems to me he often took quite some "early" (10+ rounds) punishment to wear his opponent down and knock him out later. It should also be noted that Fitzsimmons and Corbett weren't quite young anymore either; this helped him in wearing them down. I'm not sure if he could do the same with Willard.


I think this is a toss-up because there are too many unanswered questions.
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Old 10-11-2007, 02:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPontius
45 rounds with a sadistic referee? Very hard to make a pick.

I would say that Jeffries has the edge in skill but it's hard to judge because of the lack of film.
When Willard came along, gloved boxing had evolved a bit and while i don't think much of Willard's jab compared to later gloved champions, how good is Jeffries' jab? I have not seen much of it nor do i see fighters of his time make much use of it.

Willard proved his conditioning when he went 26 rounds with Johnson and knocked him out. Johnson was a big guy, though somewhat overweight, old and seemed to be not 100% focused on boxing.

On the other hand, Jeffries as far as i know, never fought a 200+lb guy with good skills and durability to go with it. He also took quite some beatings from smaller fighters. It seems to me he often took quite some "early" (10+ rounds) punishment to wear his opponent down and knock him out later. It should also be noted that Fitzsimmons and Corbett weren't quite young anymore either; this helped him in wearing them down. I'm not sure if he could do the same with Willard.


I think this is a toss-up because there are too many unanswered questions.
If you are right ,remembering that Willard is considered one of the less impressive Champions ,where does that place Jeffries considered by some one of the best?,Im not making a judgement either way here,I think your post has some very pertinent points,with which I agree,particularly the bit about Jeffries taking a lot of punishment before wearing down ,smaller ,older fighters.I wonder if Dr Mendoza will respond ?
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Old 10-11-2007, 03:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

At the first look most will probably think "Jeffries by KO, easily...", but IMO that would be a great matchup if you are also a bit bloody-minded, sadistic and hardboiled fight-fan like me. Willard was unbelievable hard, he had an iron chin, he was 6ī6 tall with over 230 lbs weight, he had a good one-punch, good stamina, etc., Jeffries had similiar strenghts, only that his skills were much better. Jeffries was like Willard a slow starter, who wore his opponents down, the same "tactic" Jess used to do. But I would pick Jeffries by KO in the 18th round ca., because his jab and his hooks would do a lot of damage, Willard on the other side canīt KO him IMO, it would be relatively close in the first few rounds, but than I see James J. taking advantage because of his much better boxing skills...
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Old 10-11-2007, 03:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

Probably would have been a marathon, but I can see Jeffries taking it late.
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Old 10-11-2007, 03:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcvey
If you are right ,remembering that Willard is considered one of the less impressive Champions ,where does that place Jeffries considered by some one of the best?,Im not making a judgement either way here,I think your post has some very pertinent points,with which I agree,particularly the bit about Jeffries taking a lot of punishment before wearing down ,smaller ,older fighters.I wonder if Dr Mendoza will respond ?
Well, it depends a bit on the context. Boxing has changed a lot over the last 100 years.


Under his own rules and circumstances, Jeffries was a great fighter. The way he went undefeated with little boxing skill while fighting excellent fighters is a remarkable feat for sure. But you can't look at his record without noticing that his best opponents were in different weight and age classes.

Willard on the other hand, is much less highly regarded historically and i don't think there are many champions from the '20s to the current crop that would lose a 15 rounder to him.
But a 45 rounder? Different story. Boxing ability, dancing on your toes (the things Ali was great at) are lot less important whereas durability, stamina and heart become a lot more important.
Willard is the ultimate example of evolution, in other words, he was a product of his enviroment (the boxing rules). And at that he may well have been a great fighter. That's why this fight is hard to call.
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Old 10-11-2007, 04:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

What is your opinion, Fogey?
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Old 10-11-2007, 04:56 PM   #9
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPontius
Well, it depends a bit on the context. Boxing has changed a lot over the last 100 years.

Under his own rules and circumstances, Jeffries was a great fighter. The way he went undefeated with little boxing skill while fighting excellent fighters is a remarkable feat for sure.
Please slam your head in the oven door as punishment for this remark.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPontius
What is your opinion, Fogey?
Sort of like yours. Jeffries was much the more dominant fighter in his own time and place than the erratic Willard, but the issue is more complex than that. I think boxing had progressed quite a bit by the 1910's. The country was rapidly urbanizing due to migration from the farms and also heavy immigration. Many of the prospects, such as Willard and Dempsey, came off the farms, but the growing urban public really supported boxing and there were clearly more fights and fighters, and I think it shows in heavyweight competition. Willard was much bigger than Jeff, but often still did not have the same weight advantages. He fought men very close to his own size such as Morris. Gunboat Smith at 6' 2" and 180 lbs is small in the Willard era, but he would have been a good sized heavy in Jeff's time.

So what happens. I go for an upset. Jeff won't be able to push Willard around or wear him down like he did the much smaller men of his own era, and I don't judge Jeff to have Dempsey's punch. I think Willard can punish Jeff with his left and the right cross at a distance, but what really troubles me concerning Jeffries is Jeff's vulnerability to uppercuts against Johnson. Willard was known to have a powerful uppercut. This fight goes a long way, but I think Willard's size and powerful uppercut wins it in a battle of two men without real good defenses, but great toughness and stamina.

Last edited by OLD FOGEY; 10-11-2007 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:42 PM   #11
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

Too much emphasis on weight here. A great fighter is a great fighter and Jeff beat way better opposition than Willard. I would be a lot more afraid to get in the ring with 170-pound Bob Fitzsimmons than some of the 200+ pound guys that Willard fought. Willard didn't even take up boxing until he was 30 years old. Jeez. And he's going to beat Jim Jeffries? I don't think so. Look, his win over Johnson was fantastic, but let's face it, Johnson was over the hill. I think he was like 38 years old, had been very inactive, living the good life, so he was completely ripe for the taking by anyone who was in shape and sturdy and could take a punch from a guy not known for having the greatest punch anyhow. When Willard got in there with a young 185-188 pound Dempsey, he got beaten down. Not saying Jeffries would do it as fast as Dempsey, because Jeff was a lot more methodical, but he'd eventually break Willard down, I think.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:54 PM   #12
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

Quote:
Originally Posted by apollack
Too much emphasis on weight here. A great fighter is a great fighter and Jeff beat way better opposition than Willard. I would be a lot more afraid to get in the ring with 170-pound Bob Fitzsimmons than some of the 200+ pound guys that Willard fought. Willard didn't even take up boxing until he was 30 years old. Jeez. And he's going to beat Jim Jeffries? I don't think so. Look, his win over Johnson was fantastic, but let's face it, Johnson was over the hill. I think he was like 38 years old, had been very inactive, living the good life, so he was completely ripe for the taking by anyone who was in shape and sturdy and could take a punch from a guy not known for having the greatest punch anyhow. When Willard got in there with a young 185-188 pound Dempsey, he got beaten down. Not saying Jeffries would do it as fast as Dempsey, because Jeff was a lot more methodical, but he'd eventually break Willard down, I think.
1. A great fighter is a great fighter--But Johnson was a great fighter also, and Fitz was 36 and hadn't fought at all in two years. Johnson was 37 but a much bigger man.
2. Dempsey--but could Jeff well into his thirties have stood up to Dempsey either. He didn't win a fight after age 29.
3. Which exactly of Jeffries' wins would you rate above Willard's win over Johnson? or the newspaper win over Luther McCarty?
4. Corbett and Jackson--Jackson was 37 and hadn't had a fight in years. Corbett had not beaten a man over 160 lbs since Sullivan in 1892, eight years before the first, and eleven years before the second, Jeffries fight.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:54 PM   #13
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

Quote:
Originally Posted by apollack
Too much emphasis on weight here. A great fighter is a great fighter and Jeff beat way better opposition than Willard. I would be a lot more afraid to get in the ring with 170-pound Bob Fitzsimmons than some of the 200+ pound guys that Willard fought. Willard didn't even take up boxing until he was 30 years old. Jeez. And he's going to beat Jim Jeffries? I don't think so. Look, his win over Johnson was fantastic, but let's face it, Johnson was over the hill. I think he was like 38 years old, had been very inactive, living the good life, so he was completely ripe for the taking by anyone who was in shape and sturdy and could take a punch from a guy not known for having the greatest punch anyhow. When Willard got in there with a young 185-188 pound Dempsey, he got beaten down. Not saying Jeffries would do it as fast as Dempsey, because Jeff was a lot more methodical, but he'd eventually break Willard down, I think.
Jeffires KO'd a 250 pound Dunkhorst in sparring. Those who know boxing will tell you a heavier and slower fighter is more prone to being hit than a smaller and quicker fighter. Which do you want to be vs a puncher?

Willard was rather poor on film. IMO, Moran got the better of him in the film I have seen, and it was truly an awful display of boxing. Willard lost to Smith, and MCMahon on points.

Basically Willaird's entire rep was based on a few white hopes and an older Jack Johnson.

I do beleive Willard was big, could hit, was game ( although he quit once, and never liked boxing ) , but he could not box a lick. How durable was Willard?

I'd say Willard could take a punch, yet he lost via KO vs the two best punchers he faced in Fripo and Dempsey in one sided fights that did not go past 8 rounds. I don't think Willard makes it past 10 vs Jeffries.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:58 PM   #14
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mendoza
Jeffires KO'd a 250 pound Dunkhorst in sparring. Those who know boxing will tell you a heavier and slower fighter is more prone to being hit than a smaller and quicker fighter. Which do you want to be vs a puncher?

Willard was rather poor on film. IMO, Moran got the better of him in the film I have seen, and it was truly an awful display of boxing. Willard lost to Smith, and MCMahon on points.

Basically Willaird's entire rep was based on a few white hopes and an older Jack Johnson.

I do beleive Willard was big, could hit, was game ( although he quit once, and never liked boxing ) , but he could not box a lick. How durable was Willard?

I'd say Willrad could take a punch, yet he lost via KO vs the two best punchers he faced in Fripo and Dempsey in one sided fights that did not go past 8 rounds. I don't think Willard makes it past 10 vs Jeffries.
In fairness, Willard was plenty old and inactive by the time he fought Dempsey and Firpo. I don't think these performances are relevant to how a 1915 Willard would have performed. At 35, younger by years than Willard in the two fights you are talking about, Jeffries was battered by Johnson. I don't think any of these fights tell us how either man would have done at his best.

I've seen the film of Willard-Moran also, and Willard seems to get the edge by far. I have never seen anyone credit Moran with winning this fight.
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:24 PM   #15
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Default Re: Jess Willard versus Jim Jeffries

I have to disagree with the consensus here. The fighting style that Jeffries had against Corbett or Fitz would be different when he fought Willard. He could bide his time vs other opponents and simply wait until the moment was right and take them out.
If you watch any kind of reliable film, you will see that Jeffries was not a slow and ponderous type of guy, he was very fast for a large guy. Sullivan called him the fastest big man he ever saw. Not true for Willard. Who was fairly slow and ponderous.
Willard is going to present himself as a huge, upright, big target, open to Jeffries hooks to both the head and body. Those hooks would take their toll on Willard, I think they would land pretty easily, and what would keep him up would be his ability to take punches, but round after round, I see him getting hit by massive shots and somewhere along the way, he would have been unable to continue and would probably not get off his stool somewhere around the 15-20 round mark.
I think it would be a fairly one sided horrible beating, personally.
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