Tom Sharkey's Heavyweight Title Claim

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by MaccaveliMacc, Apr 3, 2024.



  1. MaccaveliMacc

    MaccaveliMacc Member Full Member

    194
    250
    Feb 27, 2024
    As Jim Corbett retired from the sport, Peter Maher became the new heavyweight champion by acclamation of the press and the former champion himself. He wanted to fight Corbett, as he was suspecting his claim wouldn't last the passage of time. Damn right it didn't.

    Maher then got beat by Bob Fitzsimmons in the fight billed as the championship fight. After that, Corbett announced his comeback and got the recognision as the champ from the jump, even tho he didn't consider himself the champion, writing in his letters to Bob that he wanted to win the championship BACK.

    So we got 2 people who could claim the title of the champion. Fitzsimmons however loses the controversial fight with Tom Sharkey due to the horrible refereeing by Wyatt Earp.

    My question is: was Sharkey's claim to the heavyweight crown recognized by some portion of the public based on the official result? We know that the Corbett vs Fitzsimmons fight was considered the fight for the championship, due to the controversial nature of Bob's loss, but it was an official win for Sharkey after all.

    And question number 2: can we say, at some point, after Sharkey "defeated" Fitzsimmons, say that 3 boxers held the legitimate claim to the heavyweight championship?
     
  2. mcvey

    mcvey VIP Member Full Member

    95,101
    24,865
    Jun 2, 2006
    I don't think so, Sharkey was never considered champ.
     
  3. SimonLock

    SimonLock Member Full Member

    245
    394
    Nov 15, 2018
    I think his claim was generally ignored, as it was clear he had lost to Fitzsimmons and the "official" result was nonsense.

    Sharkey himself pursued his claim though, he issued this challenge in March 1897 shortly after the Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight:

    “I claim the championship of the world. It is mine and I intend to claim and hold it until my colours are lowered. Fitzsimmons tells the world that he has retired from the ring, but whether he has or not I am the champion. I will fight him at any time or place. I have $2,500 deposited with W.W. Naughton as a forfeit for a bet of $10,000. Money talks, and if Fitzsimmons, Maher, Goddard or any one else wants to cover it they can do so at any time and I will be greatly pleased. I whipped Corbett before 10,000 people and he had plenty of training and was in as good condition as he was when he met the Cornishman. As for Fitzsimmons, I got the decision over him and would have knocked him out had I not been fouled. Who has any better claim on the world’s championship than I?” Thomas J Sharkey, Champion of the World.
     
    MaccaveliMacc and Greg Price99 like this.
  4. MaccaveliMacc

    MaccaveliMacc Member Full Member

    194
    250
    Feb 27, 2024
    Is there any info if Jeffries claimed the championship after beating Sharkey?
     
  5. Melankomas

    Melankomas Prime Jeffries would demolish a grizzly in 2 Full Member

    3,162
    3,493
    Dec 18, 2022
    He got the better of Corbett in the 4 rounder they had shortly before Corbett’s fight with Fitzsimmons, but it wasn’t a title fight nor was it even really a victory on Sharkey’s part. I’m pretty sure the official result is a draw.

    While not many recognized Sharkey’s ‘claim’, it did sour many’s opinions of Corbett and how he would perform against Fitzsimmons.
     
  6. SimonLock

    SimonLock Member Full Member

    245
    394
    Nov 15, 2018
    No, I've never seen anything indicating Jeffries accepted Sharkey's claim, or tried to inherit it. Fitz was seen as the champion, and Jeffries as the leading contender.
     
    Greg Price99 and MaccaveliMacc like this.
  7. HistoryZero26

    HistoryZero26 Member Full Member

    262
    192
    Jan 6, 2024
    Tom Sharkey took over the Maher lineage after Fitz was DQd.

    He then took over Joe Goddards title claim when he beat him.

    He took both these claims into the first fight with Jeffries.
     
  8. Shay Sonya

    Shay Sonya The REAL Wonder Woman! Full Member

    1,812
    4,422
    Aug 15, 2021
    I think Tom Sharkey was a Title Claimant but that was about the extent of it. The Lineage as far as I am concerned was Sullivan - Corbett - Fitzsimmons - Jeffries, as accepted by the old Ring Magazine. While I have my doubts about Hart, I will defer to the old Ring Record Book as to the validity of his claim. Then Burns. Then Johnson.
     
    Greg Price99 likes this.
  9. crixus85

    crixus85 Active Member Full Member

    1,499
    1,218
    Oct 18, 2014
    Wyatt Earp the Life Behind the Legend by Casey Tefertiller devotes a 24 page chapter on the Fitz-Sharkey fight.
    It has contemporary accounts from the San Francisco Chronicle amongst other sources.
    Sharkey fouled frequently and gained great acclaim for his acting abilities!
    The result wasn’t taken seriously, evidenced by the fact Fitz got a crack at the title in his next fight.
     
  10. MaccaveliMacc

    MaccaveliMacc Member Full Member

    194
    250
    Feb 27, 2024
    Well, the lineage we know now is a younger concept than what actually happened at the time and it's a oversimplification at best. For example, when Sullivan retired for a while, Frank Salvin was considered the champion and Peter Jackson took over his claim. When Crobett retired and Fitzsimmons beat Maher he was universally recognized as the heavyweight champion. We can't forget about that just because Corbett then returned to the ring. Oversimplifing the lineage just to Sullivan > Corbett > Fitzsimmons doesn't consider almost a year of Bob's recognized reign.
     
  11. MaccaveliMacc

    MaccaveliMacc Member Full Member

    194
    250
    Feb 27, 2024
    So my question is: was there a news outlet or a journalist that recognized Sharkey's claim? And then if he had one, did anyone recognize Jeffries claim after he beat him?
     
  12. HistoryZero26

    HistoryZero26 Member Full Member

    262
    192
    Jan 6, 2024

    At this time there weren't recognition bodies for world titles except the Police Gazette which I think they stopped after Peter Jackson v Slavin. Whatever official recognition existed was in places where the sport was legal hence why most of the official titles at this time are various regional titles of the British Empire. In terms of journalists and anecdotes I'm fairly certain there are many referring to Jeffries as champ as he had a claim to the Maher lineage. And not acknowledging the Maher lineage is a more modern thing. Whatever people had acknowledged Goddard and Sharkey would have naturally recognized Jeffries. Jeffries also had beaten Peter Jackson which would have made him the Police Gazette champ lineally.
     
    cross_trainer likes this.
  13. Shay Sonya

    Shay Sonya The REAL Wonder Woman! Full Member

    1,812
    4,422
    Aug 15, 2021
    It is a very interesting topic. I have seen quite a few who recognize Maher, and what follows from that, even today.
     
    MaccaveliMacc likes this.
  14. janitor

    janitor VIP Member Full Member

    70,014
    23,994
    Feb 15, 2006
    A lot of people took Peter Maher's title claim seriously, but the circumstances under which Sharkey took over the title claim, did not do anything to help its credibility.

    If Corbett had stayed retired, people might just have rolled with it, based on the fact that there was nothing else going.

    Once Corbett came out of retirement, the winner of Corbett Fitzsimmons, was always going to have a much more credible claim than Sharkey.

    I see some parallels with Vitally Klitschko's title claim.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2024
  15. MaccaveliMacc

    MaccaveliMacc Member Full Member

    194
    250
    Feb 27, 2024
    Yeah, Maher's claim is similar to Vitali's in many aspects. That's a great comparison. But Fitzsimmons' claim after beating Maher, when they were considered two of the best heavyweights in the world after Corbett retired, was beyond legit in my opinion. Bob was really considered the world heavyweight champion even by Corbett, who after his comeback wanted to win the title back from. Only after the fight didn't materialized in 6 months, he claimed the championship reverted back to him. So you had 2 heavyweights with valid claim to the championship. Like Ali and Frazier. Like Fury and Usyk now. Tom Sharkey's claim tho is interesting in itself, so I wondered if there is any historical analysis of it.