Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14, 1903: James defeats James

SAN FRANCISCO - It was one of the most anticipated and most watched boxing matches in the early history of the sport. James J. Jeffries, the current world champion, was up against James J. Corbett, the former champion.

About 10,000 people jammed into the Mechanic's Pavillion in San Francisco to watch the two boxers fight, to date the largest crowd to ever watch a boxing match. The purse of $35,000 was the third-largest purse ever assembled for a fight as well.

Corbett seemed to be getting the better of the fight in the early rounds, and in the last few rounds was cleary winning on the scorecards. But Jeffries had developed a reputation of being able to take anybody's punches, and he was taking Corbett's best shots without hardly breaking a sweat.

In the seventh round, Corbett used his superior technique to get several clean shots at Jeffries, but Jeffries shrugged them off. Corbett did a bit of taunting, saying Jeffries could never knock him out. In round 8, Corbett used less dancing and more straight punching, finally shaking Jeffries with a few good shots to the face. Jeffries wasn't swayed, though, and in round 9, he caused a bump to appear on Corbett's face. Round 10 decided it, as Jeffries came right after Corbett without a moment's hesitation. A powerful left hook to the stomach sent Corbett to the ground for the first time in the fight. He got up at the count of 9, only to take two more hard punches and go down, this time for good.

Jeffries' victory helped legitimize his championship; he kept the title until retiring the next year, losing only after making a comeback attempt in 1910. Corbett, the champion of the 1890s, never fought again.

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