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Old 07-10-2007, 01:20 PM   #1
C. M. Clay II
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Question Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

It really baffles me. Many here make a big deal about Dempsey not fighting harry Wills and he suffers in the all-time rankings (some even rate Wills over him), but almost no one even mentions Jim Jeffries blatantly ducking Johnson when Jeffries was in his prime, and many even rank Jeffries over Johnson ! Why?

Dempsey didn't duck Wills, he tried to get a fight between him and Wills twice and both times it fell through because of mitigating circumstances, and the politics of the time. Dempsey even went to a contract signing and he and Wills both signed a contract to fight. Dempsey tried the best he could, but when he realized it would be near impossible to go over, he abandoned the idea, but he did give it his best shot. Harry Wills even said later that it wasn't Dempsey's fault he didn't get the title shot.

However, Jeffries drew the color line like no other. Johnson was more highly thought of in 1904 than Wills was in 1925, but Jeffries avoided Jack like the plague. even prominent newspapers like The Police Gazette, which was the Ring magazine of it's day wrote articles stating it's ignorance of the reason for Jeffries drawing the color line. Jeffries kept saying that same dumb line over and over again, "I'll never put my title on a line against a black. Never have, never will." When you are fighting guys like Jack Munroe and Jack Finnegan, then the color line thing becomes kind of tired, don't you think? Even Jeffries trainer Bob Delaney admitted that Jeffries was terrified of Johnson during his title reign, and avoided even coming into contact with him whenever he could.

So which sounds worse?
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Old 07-10-2007, 01:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

Jeffries' was worse, but it fortunately came near the end of his career rather than the beginning. And ultimately, he took a massive thrashing from Johnson when he was old (so I guess you can't feel that resentful of his earlier ducking).

I would rate Jeffries higher than Johnson, but he did duck him.
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Old 07-10-2007, 02:17 PM   #3
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

Quote:
Originally Posted by C. M. Clay II
It really baffles me. Many here make a big deal about Dempsey not fighting harry Wills and he suffers in the all-time rankings (some even rate Wills over him), but almost no one even mentions Jim Jeffries blatantly ducking Johnson when Jeffries was in his prime, and many even rank Jeffries over Johnson ! Why?
Basically, Johnson did get to fight for the title, and eventually even fight Jeffries - so the wrong was set right.

When an injustice takes place, someone has to swing for it. Rightly, or wrongly that somebody is Dempsey.

And there's something in it. There's a lot of talk about what Dempsey did to try to make the fight happen and I beleive most of it - but he still didn't fight him. They could have done it, of that i'm sure.
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Old 07-10-2007, 02:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

Dempsey clearly made far more effort to defend his title against Wills than Jeffries did against Johnson. Perhaps more efort than he needed to.

The irony is that Jack Johnson would only have loped off the tail of Jeffries career had he beaten him. By the same token Peter Jackson only stood to trim off the tip of Sullivans career.

It would therfore have made little diference to their legacies if they had lost and would have greatly enhanced them had they won. Dempsey for contrast would have met Wills bang in the middle of his career.
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

Dempsey was not particularly liked by some, he was cricitized for dodging the draft for World War I (but fought with honour in the second World War).

Jeffries was the closest the White Americans got to John L in popularity...

So when the careers of each fighter were being written there was a bias against Dempsey.
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

You know, that's a good point...Johnson can be held to the same standard as Jeffries for ducking black challengers after he won the title. Both were great fighters regardless.
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

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Originally Posted by cross_trainer
You know, that's a good point...Johnson can be held to the same standard as Jeffries for ducking black challengers after he won the title. Both were great fighters regardless.
But Johnson had already taken on most of those boys.

So whilst he can be cricised as CHAMPION, and his moral courage can be questioned (if you yourself are feeling brave) his resume is less susceptable to attack.
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

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Originally Posted by McGrain
But Johnson had already taken on most of those boys.

So whilst he can be cricised as CHAMPION, and his moral courage can be questioned (if you yourself are feeling brave) his resume is less susceptable to attack.
Recently, I believe a couple of discovered fights were posted that showed Jeffries fought some of the top black contenders of his era (pre-Johnson). I don't recall the particulars...do you?
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:40 PM   #9
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

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Originally Posted by cross_trainer
Recently, I believe a couple of discovered fights were posted that showed Jeffries fought some of the top black contenders of his era (pre-Johnson). I don't recall the particulars...do you?
No...my Jeffries knowledge is limited to what Janitor tells me plus the photos I have of him on his tractor (which I really like for some reason).
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Old 07-11-2007, 01:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

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Originally Posted by janitor
Dempsey clearly made far more effort to defend his title against Wills than Jeffries did against Johnson. Perhaps more efort than he needed to.

The irony is that Jack Johnson would only have loped off the tail of Jeffries career had he beaten him. By the same token Peter Jackson only stood to trim off the tip of Sullivans career.

It would therfore have made little diference to their legacies if they had lost and would have greatly enhanced them had they won. Dempsey for contrast would have met Wills bang in the middle of his career.
I disagree. Jeffries was still at his peak when he retired. He was 29 during his last defense, and retired only because there were no more white challengers left, and because IMO he realized that eventually Johnson would have to get a title shot, so he high-tailed it out of there before that could possibly happen. If the fight took place in 1905 like it should have, Johnson would have fought Jim Jeffries at his positive peak.
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Old 07-11-2007, 01:40 AM   #11
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

Jeffries screwed up by not fighting Johnson in 1905 because that was when he would have most likely defeated him. If he wasn't going to fight him then, he never should have done so. People can say race honor all they want, but the real reason he came back in 1910 was the money - it simply was too much to turn down - an unprecedented and unparallelled amount.

Besides the color line, the other reason he did not fight Johnson in 1905 was because there simply wasn't enough money in it. That is because not many experts or writers thought Johnson would win. Also, Johnson's style was boring. Therefore, a less than intriguing matchup meant a small purse. This was particularly so after Johnson lost a close decision to Marvin Hart. That essentially killed any fever for the fight. So, Jeff retired.
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Old 07-11-2007, 02:20 AM   #12
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tobkhan
So Tyson was shot with 24 but Jeffries was still prime with 29. How do you know? Have you seen him fight. I don´t think he was afreid to fight Johnson in 1905 because if he was afraid then he would have been even more afraid after a six year lay-off.
Number one, I never said Tyson was shot at 24. Number two, Jeffries was in his prime when he retired. He was just as sharp according to many accounts of his last fight against Munroe. Maybe he wasn't afraid of Johnson himself, but he was afraid of losing his title to Johnson. When he made the comeback in 1910, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Last edited by Mohak; 03-01-2006 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:38 AM   #13
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

Quote:
Originally Posted by C. M. Clay II
It really baffles me. Many here make a big deal about Dempsey not fighting harry Wills and he suffers in the all-time rankings (some even rate Wills over him), but almost no one even mentions Jim Jeffries blatantly ducking Johnson when Jeffries was in his prime, and many even rank Jeffries over Johnson ! Why?

Dempsey didn't duck Wills, he tried to get a fight between him and Wills twice and both times it fell through because of mitigating circumstances, and the politics of the time. Dempsey even went to a contract signing and he and Wills both signed a contract to fight. Dempsey tried the best he could, but when he realized it would be near impossible to go over, he abandoned the idea, but he did give it his best shot. Harry Wills even said later that it wasn't Dempsey's fault he didn't get the title shot.

However, Jeffries drew the color line like no other. Johnson was more highly thought of in 1904 than Wills was in 1925, but Jeffries avoided Jack like the plague. even prominent newspapers like The Police Gazette, which was the Ring magazine of it's day wrote articles stating it's ignorance of the reason for Jeffries drawing the color line. Jeffries kept saying that same dumb line over and over again, "I'll never put my title on a line against a black. Never have, never will." When you are fighting guys like Jack Munroe and Jack Finnegan, then the color line thing becomes kind of tired, don't you think? Even Jeffries trainer Bob Delaney admitted that Jeffries was terrified of Johnson during his title reign, and avoided even coming into contact with him whenever he could.

So which sounds worse?
Jeffries returned to give Johnson a title match many years after he was retired. Many boxing people still considered Jeffires to be the champion in those days because he never lost his title in the ring. As a contender Johnson was only viewed as the #1 guy at the tail end of Jeffires career. Jeffires retired because there was not enough money in the fighting game. Jeffries did say he’d fight Marvin Hart, who defeated Johnson if the public wanted to see it. I suppose if the money was the same as it was in 1910, Jeffries would have fought Johnson. In prize fighting money always talks.

I think Wills was the #1 rated guy for many years of Dempsey’s title reign, so I would pick him. However the answer to who avoided the best black fighters as champion ironically is Jack Johnson. As champion, Johnson avoided talented black fighters like, Sam Langford, Joe Jeanette, and Sam McVea. The three men were most certainly viewed as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd contenders from 1908-1915. Johnson shut them out. The all time coldest line in history is Joe Jeanette saying after Johnson won the title he drew the color line against this own people.
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:43 AM   #14
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

Johnson never fought a Black challenger either and the reason was the same as the rest( the money was not there)
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:52 AM   #15
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Default Re: Why Does Dempsey Get Bashed For Not Fighting Wills, but not Jeffries for Johnson?

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Originally Posted by Bummy Davis
Johnson never fought a Black challenger either and the reason was the same as the rest( the money was not there)
Jack Johnson had an obscure fight in Paris vs Black journeyman Jim Battling Johnson. Many of the top black fighters of the day fought in France. Jack had an expensive life style, so when he needed money he gave Battling Jim a chance at his title. It was the first all black lineal title match.

Unfortunetly the fight was a fiasco. Jack Johnson hurt his arm and had to retire inside the scheduled 20 rounds. The crowd booed. There was some debate as to who won the fight.Two judges had it as a draw after 10 rounds, the other had Battling Jim in the lead. Since Jack retired, it should have gone as a TKO in the books, however the heavyweight championship of the world was Jack Johnson’s show. After some debate the official ruling was a draw. There was no re-match.
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