May 11, 1900: Jeffries vs Corbett I — All It Takes Is One Punch


The primary Jeffries vs Corbett conflict occurred in Coney Island, New York over a century in the past however the storylines highlighted by that historic battle are ones now we have seen on numerous events since. First, it introduced the timeless match-up of the skillful, cerebral boxer in James J. Corbett towards the rugged and ferocious brawler within the highly effective James J. Jeffries. Second, the match additionally provided the dramatic story of a youthful, stronger champion going through the problem of an skilled, former nice vying for one final likelihood at glory; in different phrases, the previous king vs the brand new king.

Jeffries (left) and Corbett pose earlier than the match.

And it was the previous monarch in Corbett who most seen because the underdog. “Gentleman Jim” was regarded as on his manner out as a consequence of his age, extended durations of inactivity and up to date defeats. In March of 1897 he had misplaced the heavyweight championship when he was knocked out by one of many fiercest punchers of all time, Bob Fitzimmons. He then suffered a controversial defeat in November of 1898 towards the highly effective Tom Sharkey in a bout some suspected had been mounted towards the previous champion.

In the meantime, “The Boilermaker” had rightfully earned a fame as a savage puncher who mercilessly pounded his opponents into defeat, no matter pedigree. Having earned the heavyweight title through knockout in a grueling battle towards the identical Fitzimmons who had defeated Corbett, he feared nobody whereas everybody feared him.

Corbett (right) en route to losing his title to Bob Fitzsimmons.

Corbett (proper) en path to shedding his title to Bob Fitzsimmons.

Corbett was thought to be a very smart pugilist who had just about reinvented boxing method. He utilized footwork and lateral motion that had by no means been seen earlier than and he didn’t draw back from clinching to frustrate an opponent’s assault. Most importantly, he continually revised his personal technique primarily based on what he realized from his opponent’s model in the course of the combat. Jeffries’s plan, in the meantime, was easy sufficient: plod ahead regardless of how a lot punishment he absorbed–his massive, heavy body being well-equipped to deal with it–and simply maintain punching. He knew that eventually he would land that one good shot that might flip any combat his manner.

Within the weeks main as much as the match, the general public didn’t give the 34-year-old “Gentleman Jim” a snowball’s likelihood in hell, deeming Jeffries’s benefits in measurement, weight, energy, and age to be greater than sufficient to eliminate Corbett. Looking back it’s straightforward to accuse the viewers of failing to do not forget that ‘types make fights’, however on the time it was widespread information that Corbett was not solely going to lose, however lose badly.

James J. Jeffries

When the 2 champions lastly stepped into the ring, Jeffries outweighed Corbett by at the very least 30 kilos, and most observers have been curious concerning the final result extra out of a way of morbidity than from curiosity in an excellent sporting contest. However the challenger astonished everybody by turning the tables on his youthful, larger adversary. In entrance of an awestruck viewers of over eight thousand, the veteran Corbett placed on a boxing clinic worthy of remembrance.

For 22 of the scheduled 25 rounds, he boxed circles across the youthful champ. He danced, weaved, ducked and moved and made Jeffries appear to be a fish out of water. “The Boilermaker” chased after Corbett the way in which a poker participant on his final stand chases after the river card, however he didn’t appear to even belong in the identical ring as Corbett. Irrespective of how laborious he tried, Jeffries’s bombs stored hitting air, whereas he obtained fixed punishment from Corbett’s exact and completely timed blows.

By spherical 20, the Boilermaker’s nook had labored itself right into a panic, warning the champ he wanted a knockout to win. Jim was properly forward on the scorecards, and confirmed no signal of shedding steam because the combat neared its finish. However what might the champion do besides maintain pursuing “Gentleman Jim,” doggedly stalking Corbett within the hope of touchdown the one massive shot that might flip issues round?

And land it he did. In spherical 23, he caught Corbett with a brief, stiff proper hand simply because the challenger, having prevented a left hook, bounced off the ropes. The blow landed flush and put Corbett’s lights out, the previous champion sunk into unconsciousness earlier than he even hit the canvas. Jeffries had caught his river card, massive time, on the similar time giving boxing one among its actually legendary one-punch knockouts.

Thus Corbett’s gallant problem was repelled, as have been all challengers who vied for Jeffries’ title belt. Extremely, Jeffries by no means misplaced his championship within the ring and would undergo solely a single defeat in his boxing profession, that in a comeback bout towards the “Galveston Big,” Jack Johnson, in one other historic combat a few years later. For his half, Corbett competed solely twice extra earlier than lastly retiring for good, a kind of contests a rematch towards Jeffries in 1903, which he additionally misplaced by knockout. However that night time in Coney Island three years earlier than noticed Corbett give what many got here to treat as, regardless of the result, maybe the best and noblest efficiency of “Gentleman Jim’s” complete profession.

Rafael Garcia


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