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This Day in Boxing History: Terrible Terry TKOs Little Chocolate

Arne K. Lang

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Terrible Terry

On Jan. 9, 1900, Terrible Terry McGovern and George “Little Chocolate” Dixon locked horns in the arena of the Broadway Athletic Club in New York City. Contested at 118 pounds, the bout between the exalted little gladiators – both of whom would enter the International Boxing Hall of Fame with the inaugural class of 1990 – was the first big fight of the 1900s and, in hindsight, the loudest example of a “changing of the guard” fight since Gentleman Jim Corbett upset John L. Sullivan in 1892.

Little Chocolate

George Dixon was born in 1870 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In those days, the maritime province of Nova Scotia had the largest population of blacks of any province in Canada, many of whom were descendants of former U.S. residents who were assisted in escaping to Canada by British sea captains after supporting the British in the American Revolutionary War.

In 1870, at age 17, Dixon turned up in Boston where he had his early fights. In his 12th bout, he was matched against a railroad brakeman. The match was scheduled for 12 rounds but went 14. The referee was unable to determine a winner after 12 and ordered two additional rounds. He was still unable to separate them after the extra sessions and the bout went into the books as a draw. There would be three rematches that produced the same result, the last of which went 26 rounds. (In this era, draws were endemic. Some veteran fighters finished their careers with more draws than wins and losses combined.)

It was in Boston that Dixon hooked up with Tom O’Rourke. A plasterer by trade, born and raised in Boston, O’Rourke exploited his political connections to become one of the most influential people in boxing, serving the sport as a matchmaker, manager, and promoter.

For a time O’Rourke controlled all four of the leading boxing clubs in New York. He managed the two leading black fighters of the 1890s, George Dixon and Joe Walcott, and promoted several fights involving the great black lightweight Joe Gans. But the pragmatic O’Rourke was an equal opportunity employer who would join the rush to find a Great White Hope when Jack Johnson won the heavyweight title.

O’Rourke brought Dixon to London in 1890 where he laid claim to the world featherweight title with a 19th round stoppage of Nunc Wallace. For the remainder of the century, Little Chocolate, as he came to be referenced, was recognized as the world featherweight champion, notwithstanding two losses, both on points, in bouts billed as world title fights. As a weight class, the featherweight division then had no fixed boundary. His bout with Wallace had a ceiling of 114 pounds. In subsequent title fights, he weighed as high as 125.

Dixon’s fame grew with each successful title defense and he came to be seen as invincible. Terry McGovern burst his bubble.

Terry McGovern

Ten years younger than George Dixon, Joseph Terrence McGovern was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, but his parents moved to Brooklyn before his first birthday and he grew up in that city, America’s fourth largest before it was folded into New York City in 1898.

The McGoverns lived in South Brooklyn in an area heavily populated by Irish immigrants, many of whom found work on the waterfront of the heavily polluted Gowanus Canal. It was a hardscrabble neighborhood but a close-knit neighborhood with a strong sense of community.

McGovern’s father died when Terry was 14. Three years later, after working as a newsboy and in a lumberyard, McGovern, carrying 110 pounds, made his pro debut in Brooklyn in a 10-round fight against an equally inexperienced opponent. Terry was disqualified in the fourth round (details are vague). The following year he was disqualified again, this coming in the 11th frame of a 25-round contest with Tim Callahan. These would be his only losses heading into his 1900 fight with George Dixon.

McGovern fought Callahan, a top shelf fighter from Philadelphia, three times in a span of four months. Their second meeting, which went 20 rounds, was ruled a draw. Terry knocked Callahan out in their third encounter. A left to the body followed by a right to the jaw put Callahan down for the count in the 10th round.

After one of these three fights — there are conflicting reports as to which one – McGovern’s contract was purchased by theatrical producer Sam H. Harris. The Broadway magnate sold a piece to his frequent collaborator George M. Cohan, the astoundingly prolific playwright, songwriter, and actor, and entrusted the day-to-day affairs of Terrible Terry to Joe Humphries, New York’s most prominent ring announcer. As was true of George Dixon, McGovern now had influential people in his corner.

McGovern’s first eight fights went the distance, but as he matured he became a knockout machine. Prior to meeting Dixon, he reeled off a string of 13 wins by KO, 11 coming within the first three rounds. The most eye-catching of these knockouts was a first round stoppage of England’s previously undefeated Pedlar Palmer. Their brief encounter played out in a makeshift arena in the little village of Tuckahoe, New York, 16 miles from midtown Manhattan.

The clever Palmer, who had one of boxing’s best nicknames – “Box o’ Tricks” – arrived in New York with great fanfare. Terrible Terry blew right through him. It was the first title fight under Queensberry rules that ended in the first round and it was a rousing performance by McGovern that had every bit the wow factor as Mike Tyson’s 91-second annihilation of clever Michael Spinks in 1988.

After this fight, reporters exhausted every synonym for typhoon to describe McGovern’s fighting style. He was a thunderstorm, a Krupp cannon, and a Gatling gun all rolled into one, said the prominent referee and pugilistic authority Charley White. But in the eyes of many, Terry, not quite 20 years old, was too wet behind the ears to defeat George Dixon. Lore had it that Little Chocolate had engaged in more than 800 bouts and had been knocked down only once. “More money was bet and won on Dixon than any half dozen fighters of his time,” noted a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The arena of the Broadway Athletic Club was relatively small, holding only four thousand. But 4800 squeezed their way in to see the fight, slated for 25 rounds, and at least half as many huddled outside in the cold, unable or unwilling to meet the steep price demanded by scalpers who did a brisk business.

The Fight

Dixon started strong. For four rounds, said a reporter, Dixon showed all of his marvelous old-time speed and proved superior when fighting at long range. During the battle, which lasted one second short of eight full rounds, Dixon staggered McGovern half a dozen times. But the Irishman stayed tight to his game plan which meant working the body to wear his adversary down.

In round seven, McGovern became a head-hunter. One of his punches appeared to break Dixon’s nose. It bled profusely. And then in the next round he battered Dixon all over the ring, knocking him down five times (some reports said eight) before Tom O’Rourke threw in the sponge. “It was,” reminisced New York Evening World sports editor Robert Edgren (who would be one of McGovern’s pallbearers), “the fastest and most sensational encounter at that weight that has ever been seen in this country.”

Postscript 1

Reporters wrote about the battle as if it were George Dixon’s final fight. To the contrary, he went on to have 76 more ring engagements, 48 in England, before retiring in 1906. During his career he answered the bell for an alarming 1744 rounds.

Thirteen months after his final fight, George “Little Chocolate” Dixon, once hailed as the greatest little man the sport of boxing had ever seen, died alone and destitute in New York’s Bellevue Hospital. The cause of death was said to be alcoholism. He was 37 years old.

Postscript 2

Twenty-three months after dethroning George Dixon, Terry McGovern lost his featherweight title to William Rothwell, a little known fighter from Denver who took the ring name Young Corbett II. Rothwell knocked him out in the second round in Hartford, Connecticut. It was a massive upset. Terry fought off and on for the next five-and-a-half years, but mostly in little 6-round fights where no decision was given.

McGovern went broke too. He squandered a good portion of his ring earnings backing slow horses at Coney Island racetracks. In 1907, Sam Harris arranged a series of benefits for him, the first of which was held on Jan. 23 at Madison Square Garden. McGovern was then a patient in a sanitarium in Stamford, Connecticut. He was in and out of sanitariums during the last 10 years of his life.

On Feb. 20, 1918, Terry wasn’t feeling well and checked himself in to Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital. Two days later he was dead. The cause, depending on the source, was pneumonia complicated by nervous exhaustion or Bright’s disease complicated with acute indigestion.

In common with George Dixon, Terry McGovern was 37 years old when he drew his final breath.

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Fast Results From Latvia: Mairis Briedis and the KO Doctor advance in the WBSS

Arne K. Lang

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briedis vs glowacki

The semifinal round of the Wold Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament played out today in Riga, Latvia, the hometown of Mairis Briedis who was matched against Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki. Both fighters had only one blemish on their ledger and in both cases their lone defeat came at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk.

The fans left happily after Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) knocked out Glowacki (34-2) in the third frame. But it was messy fight that invites a lot of second-guessing and likely a challenge from the Glowacki camp.

After a feeling-out first round, Briedis cranked up the juice. An errant elbow landed behind Glowacki’s head, putting him on the canvas. For this discretion, Briedis was docked a point. A legitimate knockdown followed — Glowacki was hurt — and then another knockdown after the bell had sounded. The referee could not hear the bell in the din. It was a wild scene.

The fight was allowed to continue, but didn’t last much longer. Coming out for round three, Glowacki wasn’t right and Briedis pounced on him, scoring another knockdown, leading referee Robert Byrd to waive the fight off at the 27 second mark. It wasn’t Byrd’s finest hour.

The tournament organizers anticipated the complication of a draw and assigned extra judges to eliminate this possibility. They did not anticipate the complication of a “no-contest.” If the outcome isn’t overturned, Briedis, a former WBC cruiserweight champ, is the new WBO title-holder.

Dorticos-Tabiti

In the co-feature, Miami-based Cuban defector Yunier Dorticos, nicknamed the KO Doctor, lived up to his nickname with a smashing one punch knockout of previously undefeated Andrew Tabiti. The end for Tabiti came with no warning in round 10. An overhand right left him flat on his back, unconscious. Referee Eddie Claudio didn’t bother to count. The official time was 2:33.

It was easy to build case for Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs). He was three inches taller than Tabiti, packed a harder punch, and had fought stronger opposition. But it was understood that Tabiti, now 17-1, had a more well-rounded game. Moreover, there were concerns about Dorticos’ defense and stamina.

Dorticos was ahead on the scorecards after nine frames. He rarely took a backward step and let his hands go more freely. And it didn’t help Tabiti’s cause that he was docked a point for holding in the sixth frame. Earlier in that round, an accidental clash of heads left Dorticos with a cut over his right eye. The ringside physician was called into the ring to examine it and let the bout continue.

With the victory, Dorticos became the IBF world cruiserweight champion and moved one step closer to acquiring the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy in what will be, win or lose, the most lucrative fight of his career.

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Angel Ruiz Scores 93 Second KO in Ontario, CA

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Angel Ruiz

(Ringside Report by Special Correspondent Tarrah Zeal) ONTARIO, CA – “Path to Glory” featured some of Southern California’s hottest prospects carving their image into the boxing world through the Thompson Boxing Promotions platform at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA Friday night.

Undefeated welterweight prospect Angel Ruiz (14-0, 11 KO) of Maywood, CA finished veteran Miguel Zamudio (43-13-1, 27 KO) from Los Mochis, Mexico with an impressive stoppage at 1:33 in the first round scheduled for eight.

At 21 years young, Ruiz (pictured) came into the night with four KO wins in his last four bouts and looking to continue his streak. A second-round body shot win over Gerald Avila (8-17-3) on May 10th and first round KO win against Roberto Almazan (8-9) just this year.

Ruiz was just getting started in the ring using his long distance and power punches to punish Zamudio.

Twenty seconds into the opening round, Ruiz’ mouthpiece went flying out and a timeout was called. Once the mouthpiece was placed back in, Ruiz administered a quick flurry of punches but with no exchange from Zamudio, referee Raul Caiz stepped in and stopped the main event fight.

After the fight interview Ruiz was asked about what he saw in the fight, “I see this guy. He wants to fight. He was trying to fight but I’m too hard. I got you.” Ruiz said. “I feel ready. I want to fight with the best.”

With 89 amateur bouts under his belt, although not signed with any promoters, Ruiz is verbally challenging Vergil Ortiz, “Vergil if you see this video, remember me”.

Brewart

In he co-main event, a six round junior middleweight bout, Richard “Cool Breeze” Brewart (6-0, 2 KO) of Rancho Cucamonga, CA won a unanimous decision over Antonio “El Tigre” Duarte (2-1) of Tijuana, Mexico.

Brewart was coming into the fight looking like the faster, more technical fighter of the two. Duarte over-telegraphed all of his punches, allowing Brewart to use his overhand right and awesome agility to angle out of reach.

Even after Duarte checked Brewart on the chin with a strong punch, Brewart’s power punches always ended the rounds. The judges scored the bout 60-54 twice and 59-55 for Brewart.

Other Bouts

A victorious unanimous decision at the end of a six-round toe-to- toe bantamweight fight was given to Mario “Mighty” Hernandez, (8-1-1, 3 KO) of Santa Cruz, CA over lefty Victor “Lobo” Trejo Garcia (16-11-1, 8 KO) from Mexico City, Mexico.

Continuous hard punches were exchanged from both brawlers starting at the bell of round one. Fans were excited after a flurry of punches and then a clear push from Hernandez sent Trejo to the floor at the end of round three, giving the crowd excitement for the coming rounds.

It deemed to be a bit of a challenge for both, as orthodox Hernandez managed to match southpaw Trejo’s overhand right punches with his own in response. After six rounds of continuous action two judges scored the bout 57-56 and one 59-54 for Hernandez.

In what would be an exciting and entertaining four-round heavyweight bout, Oscar Torrez (6-0, 3 KO) from Riverside, CA took on Allen Ruiz (0-2) of Ensenada, Mexico.

A surprising uppercut from Ruiz, in the beginning of round one, put Torrez on the canvas and every eye in the room were all fixated on both brawlers. The look in Torrez’ eyes were more calculated, as he was careful from then on.

Wild punches were being thrown from Ruiz without fear of repercussion, but then a quick liver shot from Torrez sent him to his knees. After a couple of seconds to adjust back into the bout, Ruiz was then checked again by left hook to the chin knocking out his mouthpiece. There were 20 seconds left in round two and the round ended with no mouthpiece.

Torrez showed he was stronger and the more technical fighter and finally ended the bout by KO with a right hook to Ruiz’s body at 1:08 in the third round.

Jose “Tito” Sanchez, a rising featherweight prospect with two knockouts in his first two fights and training under star trainer Joel Diaz, out of Indio, CA, took on veteran Pedro “Pedroito” Melo (17-20-2, 8 KO). Even with his low experience in the professional boxing world, Sanchez showed his maturity in the ring by controlling the fight when following Melo around the ring and landing clean left hooks and powerful body shots. After four rounds Sanchez won by 40-36 on all three cards.

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Is the UFC Purchasing Premier Boxing Champions?

Miguel Iturrate

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UFC Purchasing PBC?

Several news outlets are reporting that the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s parent company Endeavor is in talks with Al Haymon to purchase the Premier Boxing Champions. The deal is far from happening and will be complicated if it is completed. Let’s look at some of the details.

Dana White has been the face of the UFC since the brand was purchased by Zuffa in 2001 and over the years he has repeatedly hinted about invading the world of boxing. In his early days as the UFC’s head honcho, White even challenged his biggest star, Tito Ortiz, to a boxing match. The match never happened but to this day White will tell you he would have beaten Ortiz in a fight under Queensberry rules.

In more recent years the UFC co-promoted the Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather Jr match and White, although he would vehemently deny it, also had to have at least tacitly approved of Oscar De LaHoya’s promotion of the third bout between Ortiz and his rival Chuck Liddell. That match-up was likely assessed by White this way: “If Oscar wants to promote MMA let him lose his money,” but he didn’t stand in the way of De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions.

White’s name has also come up in connection with Anthony Joshua. White is said to have had a huge offer ready for the then heavyweight champion, but he backed off when the realization hit that he could not make matches for Joshua in the way he is accustomed because he had no roster of potential opponents. However, White has been insistent that the UFC will “100 percent get into boxing.”

Under new owners Endeavor, White cannot operate like he did under old owners Zuffa, but if the deal goes down it is likely because White crafted some type of long term vision that he sold to Endeavor co-founder and CEO Ari Emanuel (pictured).

When Endeavor purchased the UFC in July of 2016 for a reported $4.05 billion, White agreed to guide the company for at least five more years, of which roughly two are up.

On the flipside, it is difficult to see Al Haymon relinquishing control of PBC. More than likely Haymon would stay in charge of the PBC wing and Endeavor would serve as a cash cow to keep what he has built going.

Haymon must stay aboard for another reason, though few will say it. The reason is ethnicity. If Haymon is left out, that would basically leave Leonard Ellerbe and his boss Floyd Mayweather Jr as the only prominent African-American promoters in boxing and that would not be a healthy situation.

Premier Boxing Champions has a diverse group of fighters among the over 200 pugilists under contract. Some are African-American as are many of Haymon’s key employees and associates. Frankly, at least a portion of those fighters and employees would not feel the same comfort level they have with Haymon if Emanuel, a member of an influential Jewish family (his brother is former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel) and Vegas power broker White were abruptly substituted.

Another effect on the PBC model is on the promotional end. Haymon has cobbled together a group of promoters that operate regionally under his PBC umbrella. The model that Endeavor brings with the UFC will have a more centralized approach to promotion. How will the new owners deal with Lou DiBella in NY, James Leija and Mike Battah in Texas, and Tom Brown in California? Throw in the aforementioned Ellerbe and Mayweather, who operate primarily in Vegas but also in the Washington DC and Baltimore area. How will the promoters who work with the PBC see their relationship change if Haymon left and Dana White was in charge?

Haymon has built the PBC over the years into a big business. He has the PBC on FOX and Showtime whereas the UFC, which previously partnered with FOX, now has a long-term deal with ESPN. This suggests that if a deal is made, PBC and the UFC will have to operate as completely separate entities under the same umbrella, at least for the foreseeable future. And even that might be further away from happening than most people realize.

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