"Langford was hoping for a 20 round bout, or finish fight in California with Ketchel and with that on the line he had every reason to hold back...for Gans, or any other lower weight fighter fighting McGovern was the equivalent, money-wise, of someone fighting Oscar De La Hoya today...that is where the money is and that is the fight that all want!"
We'll probably never know for sure, but possibly Gans and his manager could have been induced to lose the fight by a bribe on the part of gamblers. Or maybe they got a visit along the lines of one that Sam Langford claimed to receive the night before his fight with Fred Fulton. Though Sam admitted to legitimately losing that contest, he provided details of a visit the night before by a party who said he would be shot unless he lost to Fulton.
In any case I tend to put a lot of stock in the comments made afterward by the referee, George Siler, who was inside the ring with Gans & McGovern, and the reports of a flurry of activity beforehand on the part of the black community to hedge previously made bets. Here's some excerpts from a couple of articles after the fight:
Anaconda Standards 12-14-1900:
"There were numerous stories last night and today that the fight was fixed for McGovern to win, and the betting set steadily in that direction during the last 24 hours. Wednesday night it was one to to that McGovern would stay the limit. Just prior to the fight it was even money that Gans would be knocked out."
"George Siler, the referee, will make the following statement in tomorrow's Tribune: 'Gans put up the weakest article of fight ever witnessed in Chicago. Hiis every effort was weak and he acted as if he was not tryinig. His blocking, however, was all right, but his hitting, of which so much as been said, was not in evidence. I do not like to accuse a fighter of faking, but will say that Gans' work had all the earmarks of a fake.
Terry fought as usual. He sailed into Gans at the tap of the gong, slashing away with both hands at the head and body. His body blows were the most effective, even though Gans went to the canvas repeatedly from head blows. The knockout was a short right jolt under the chin, and may have been hard enough to put Gans down for the count, but it did not strike me so."
Syracuse Evening Herald 12-14-1900
The Fight at Chicago Had Every Appearance of Being Put Up by Negro
"Referee George Siler - The fight had a bad look. I did not see any blow that should have put Gans in a state of grogginess in the first round and Gan's blows were the weakest ever seen from a man of his known hitting ability.
Terry McGovern - "I did not fake that is a certainty. I tried to finish the fight as soon as I possible could but I confess the result was somewhat of a surprise to me."
Joe Gans - "The better man won. That is all I can give in explanation of the result. I did not "lay down." I was hit hard early in the fight and that seemed to take the wind out of me. I don't think there is anyone who can stand up before McGovern at the lightweight limit."
The Chicago Tribune story written by George Siler, the referee - It was reported that Gans was up nearly all Wednesday night and that colored sports all over the city were betting on McGovern yesterday, having received a tip to the outcome.
The Chicago Record - Terry McGovern knocked out Joe Gans at Tattersalls last night in what appeared to be a fake contest. During the day there was a hurried effort to hedge by colored porters and others who had wagered on Gans. At the ring side the betting shifted to even money that McGovern would win by a knockout, and this in the face of the fact that Gans had to stop McGovern to gain the decision.
The Chicago Chronicle - The betting just before the fight, as well as for two days previous, showed that somebody might have given a tip that Gans was not going to do his best.
Chicago Times Herald - Suprisingly enough the results of the contest confirmed in every respect to the suspicious betting offered Wednesday and repeated that night at the ringside by men who passed through the audience with hands full of bills offering the false odds of even money that Gans would be knocked out by the Brooklyn Terror.