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Thread: willard... most maligned champ legacy

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    willard... most maligned champ legacy

    got to be one of the toughest & most durable sob's to ever enter the ring... additionally a more talented and guile possessed athlete then ever given credit for...

    In the most important 2 fights of his career.... consider the pair of overlooked goods he brought to the table, before you hear or buy into another marginalization of his career and legacy ...

    vrs jack johnson, an above avg hitter & a great defensive specialist... willard went 26 rds to connect & dispatch the fading but still formidable legend.... sure, people will say johnson was over the hill and/or took a dive... but the documented film evidence belie these claims... granted johnson was past his prime, but to claim he still had no skills or wasnt trying to win... is to simply ignore the footage... though lumbering, willard was athletically balanced and agile on his feet... he added smarts and toughness spacing himself away from various early flurry attacks johnson mounted early to end the fight... then later in the fight w/ iron lung endurance, he turned up the heat in the 20th+ rds., effectively executing a dispatching of the withering johnson... w/o this upturn in momentum and pressure, imo johnson, thru guile, wouldve been able to grapple and wrestle out a holding decision... contrary to some reports, the temperature wasnt in the 90's-100's ... it was april in havana... avg temperature low 80's... a temp johnson couldve sustained the distance in... yet willard, turned up the heat w/ a punishing right jab and started punishing and backing up johnson... eventually hurting him for good w/ a legit hard right cross... bottomline, a 2nd rate fighter doesnt pull off this type of task... it took a measured plan, the discipline to stick w/ it, well conditioned endurance and the skills to finish it... willard delivered & to this day few people give him the due, for what was a formidable task...

    in his other most notable fight... willard endured a level of pain very few could or would weather... early in the fight its clear willard still possessed a quality jab and the ring savvy to effectively tie up his opponent... willard's problem was he ran into the best giant killer to ever enter a ring... at that point dempsey's quickness, killer instinct, hunger, underrated arm grappling strength & athletic foot speed were at their absolute peak... the explosive combinations exploding out of an innovative crouch and pounce stance were textbook made for a large slower moving fighter... dempsey caught him w/ perhaps the most devasting, belt fight, left hook... uncorked out of a 3 punch swivel combination... the timing and maximization of power in the connection of the 4th punch left hook was clockwork perfect... willard's right cheek bone was shattered & caved in... his head was violently swiveled to the left as if shot... his brains were shaken instantly into a blurry world of discoherence... yet this very tough westerner in his own right, summoned a gut level resevoir of survival to raise himself up in a blur of pain & lost senses... & what did he get up to? ... a maelstrom of searing 105 degree heat & screaming fans w/ point blank hammers coming from both the left and right caving into broken bone and flesh... was willards response to wither, submit & fold himself to the killing floor?... no, again & again, 6 more times infact... willard manned himself up to weather more... today that would be labeled suicidal... back then, in a work or starve world... it was proving your manhood... problem for willard was he had to endure this rite of early 20th century passage vrs a killer w/ cold eyes & anvil fists... enduring body & facial damage, that considering the outdoor enviroment, literally put his life in the balance... yet w/ crushed ribs, broken nose, missing teeth, crushed cheek, broken jaw & smashed ear drum he out lasted the first bell... then rather cover up he amazingly mounted an attempted attack for 2 rds as his live blood drained away in the suffocating oven heat... finally in convulsions on his stool his handlers mercifully saved his life (literally) and threw in the towel... sure there was no belt or more big $ gained for such an effort... but to those that mark notable events in the lexicon of time... should place that day in july toledo as more then a testament to a new western sensation... it was also a mirror to a type of unique primal toughness that reflected a certain time and place in america... valor today and then had one thing in common... by definition, few if any can step up to it's demand then or now... willard's 3 round survival signified that era's definition of that lofty term.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by HandToMouth
    got to be one of the toughest & most durable sob's to ever enter the ring... additionally a more talented and guile possessed athlete then ever given credit for...

    In the most important 2 fights of his career.... consider the pair of overlooked goods he brought to the table, before you hear or buy into another marginalization of his career and legacy ...

    vrs jack johnson, an above avg hitter & a great defensive specialist... willard went 26 rds to connect & dispatch the fading but still formidable legend.... sure, people will say johnson was over the hill and/or took a dive... but the documented film evidence belie these claims... granted johnson was past his prime, but to claim he still had no skills or wasnt trying to win... is to simply ignore the footage... though lumbering, willard was athletically balanced and agile on his feet... he added smarts and toughness spacing himself away from various early flurry attacks johnson mounted early to end the fight... then later in the fight w/ iron lung endurance, he turned up the heat in the 20th+ rds., effectively executing a dispatching of the withering johnson... w/o this upturn in momentum and pressure, imo johnson, thru guile, wouldve been able to grapple and wrestle out a holding decision... contrary to some reports, the temperature wasnt in the 90's-100's ... it was april in havana... avg temperature low 80's... a temp johnson couldve sustained the distance in... yet willard, turned up the heat w/ a punishing right jab and started punishing and backing up johnson... eventually hurting him for good w/ a legit hard right cross... bottomline, a 2nd rate fighter doesnt pull off this type of task... it took a measured plan, the discipline to stick w/ it, well conditioned endurance and the skills to finish it... willard delivered & to this day few people give him the due, for what was a formidable task...

    in his other most notable fight... willard endured a level of pain very few could or would weather... early in the fight its clear willard still possessed a quality jab and the ring savvy to effectively tie up his opponent... willard's problem was he ran into the best giant killer to ever enter a ring... at that point dempsey's quickness, killer instinct, hunger, underrated arm grappling strength & athletic foot speed were at their absolute peak... the explosive combinations exploding out of an innovative crouch and pounce stance were textbook made for a large slower moving fighter... dempsey caught him w/ perhaps the most devasting, belt fight, left hook... uncorked out of a 3 punch swivel combination... the timing and maximization of power in the connection of the 4th punch left hook was clockwork perfect... willard's right cheek bone was shattered & caved in... his head was violently swiveled to the left as if shot... his brains were shaken instantly into a blurry world of discoherence... yet this very tough westerner in his own right, summoned a gut level resevoir of survival to raise himself up in a blur of pain & lost senses... & what did he get up to? ... a maelstrom of searing 105 degree heat & screaming fans w/ point blank hammers coming from both the left and right caving into broken bone and flesh... was willards response to wither, submit & fold himself to the killing floor?... no, again & again, 6 more times infact... willard manned himself up to weather more... today that would be labeled suicidal... back then, in a work or starve world... it was proving your manhood... problem for willard was he had to endure this rite of early 20th century passage vrs a killer w/ cold eyes & anvil fists... enduring body & facial damage, that considering the outdoor enviroment, literally put his life in the balance... yet w/ crushed ribs, broken nose, missing teeth, crushed cheek, broken jaw & smashed ear drum he out lasted the first bell... then rather cover up he amazingly mounted an attempted attack for 2 rds as his live blood drained away in the suffocating oven heat... finally in convulsions on his stool his handlers mercifully saved his life (literally) and threw in the towel... sure there was no belt or more big $ gained for such an effort... but to those that mark notable events in the lexicon of time... should place that day in july toledo as more then a testament to a new western sensation... it was also a mirror to a type of unique primal toughness that reflected a certain time and place in america... valor today and then had one thing in common... by definition, few if any can step up to it's demand then or now... willard's 3 round survival signified that era's definition of that lofty term.

    Great post. 100% right on the money.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    I agree with this statement:

    "got to be one of the toughest & most durable sob's to ever enter the ring..."

    I disagree with this statement:

    "additionally a more talented and guile possessed athlete then ever given credit for..."

    Willard was at best an extraordinarily tough - but otherwise pedestrian - heavyweight who happened to catch an out-of-shape Jack Johnson at just the right time.

    I also agree with the s.o.b. part, standing alone. By many accounts I have read, Willard could give Ty Cobb a run for his money in the s.o.b. department.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by raylawpc
    I agree with this statement:

    "got to be one of the toughest & most durable sob's to ever enter the ring..."

    I disagree with this statement:

    "additionally a more talented and guile possessed athlete then ever given credit for..."

    Willard was at best an extraordinarily tough - but otherwise pedestrian - heavyweight who happened to catch an out-of-shape Jack Johnson at just the right time.

    I also agree with the s.o.b. part, standing alone. By many accounts I have read, Willard could give Ty Cobb a run for his money in the s.o.b. department.
    You know, I believe Johnson had to have been past his prime against Willard-- he was 37 and rusty besides (he was coming off a lay-off and had been fighting only irregularly for some time before that), but I do not believe he was "out of shape." To the contrary, he came in at 205-- 16 pounds less than he weighed against Frank Moran-- and had brought Sam McVey down to Havana with him to help him train. IMO, he took the bout seriously and got himself into as good shape as was possible for his body @ the time.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    The Willard who fought Jack Johnson, under those rules and with that time limit is a match for ANY heavyweight who ever lived. I think that and always have. He had a Buster Dougles nite and like Buster he never got that fine again.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Willard did not have a Buster day ... Buster fought an incredible fight....Willard took a beating for 20 rounds. losing almost every one until an exhausted, out of shape (for him) , 37 year old Johnson gave in to the inevitable.

    I feel Willard is underated by history due to the Dempsey beating ... it is forgotten that Willard did not even turn pro until about the age of 30, he had no amateur background and basically made due with his physical attributes. He was huge, exceptionally strong, had a good, hard jab and terrific power. He had a great chin and great stamina. If he was trained properlyand built up from an amateur today he would have been a much better fighter. In addition, he threw himself to the lions by fighting an absoiutely prime Dempsey at the age of 37 with basically four years of inactivity.

    Willard is often remembered as a Primo Carnera of sorts when he was far better than Primo.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    From The CBZ Encyclopedia:

    Cyber Boxing Champion -- Jess Willard

    by Jim Mace

    [Editor's note: It is with great pleasure that we publish this biography by Jess Willard's grandson, Jim Mace. Articles such as this make us proud of being able to harness the power of the internet to preserve boxing's wonderful history and, as importantly, to meet truly nice people! Mike DeLisa]

    Even within the long-ago memories or recollections of boxing historians and fans of famous prizefighters, the name Jess Willard has almost fallen victim to near insignificance. Jess Willard, the one-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world, and who alone earned the title, "The Great White Hope", has faded from memory, compared to his predecessor Jack Johnson, and his rival, Jack Dempsey.

    One wonders if historians have all the facts, considering that a little thing like Jess Willard's incorrect date of birth curiously never seems to get corrected. Jess Willard was born December 29, 1881 (not 1883) in St. Clere, Kansas. He was the youngest of four brothers born to Myron and Margaret Willard. Willard's father died in October of 1881, at age 37 from wounds received in the Civil War. Jess' mother remarried in 1891 to a man named Elisha Stalker, who had children from a previous marriage.

    As Jess, his older brothers and stop brothers grew up on Mr. Stalker's ranch, the chores of the boys was as normal and customary as most of farm people. Jess got along with his brothers and step-brothers, but never liked going to school. It should be noted that Willard's first love was horses, and from his teens to adulthood, got work on ranches working with horses. Because Jess Willard was an unusually large man -- even in his teens (his brothers were of normal stature) -- he found that he was not suitable to become a cowboy. So, he did the next best thing: He broke and trained horses, sometimes obtaining the horses from the Pottawotamie Indians, and selling them to ranchers or the cowboys themselves.

    Jess Willard grew up in the same area as the young girl he would someday marry. Her name was Harriet Evans, but is historically known as "Hattie". She was born in 1885. Jess and Hattie were married on March 13, 1908 in Leavenworth, Kansas.

    For employment, Jess worked in the livery stable business. He and Hattie moved all over the Midwest for Jess' line of work, landing in Oklahoma and Texas. It was also reported that he almost got work as a policeman in Oklahoma City.

    There is no positive story as to how Jess got into boxing, but it probably started in December 1910, in Oklahoma City. While hanging around the Union Athletic Club, he saw his very first staged bout. It was December 30, 1910, between two welterweights, Harry Brewer and Clarence English.

    Jess Willard's first exhibition bouts were in 1911; and so insignificant were they, that names of the opponents were not even recorded. Jess lost his first exhibition bout in the 3rd round, but won his 2nd bout in the 6th. The first known recorded exhibition bout of Willard's was on February 8, 1911. It was a 4-round bout with Billy Evart; and another exhibition on the same day, with Frank Mayo for 5 rounds.

    Jess Willard's actual and very first fight was with Louis Fink, which was staged February 15, 1911, in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Willard lost by a foul in the 10th round. Thereafter, Willard fought in at least 20 other bouts and exhibitions in 1911. On Victor McLaglen in Springfield, Missouri. Victor McLaglen became a well-known film actor of the 1930s and 40s, and who was known for his roles with John Wayne.

    In 1912 Willard had 13 bouts and exhibitions. In 1913 he fought 13 more bouts, the most noted being with "Gunboat" Smith, and "Bull" Young, who died as a result of Willard's punches.

    From 1908, the world of heavyweight boxing and all of the U.S., was looking for someone to take the championship away from Jack Johnson, the black Heavyweight who became Champion that year. Racism was strong enough in the U.S. back then; and being a black athlete, and a black champion at anything, was very unpopular. So, the boxing world was looking for someone to put Jack Johnson -- this black man -- to the mat, and "bring the championship back to the white race." Jack Johnson's boxing style was not the subject of "sluggers", but of "speed." The question was, who could beat him. No white heavyweight fighter of that era seemed to earn the respect and marks of someone who could do the job. Not even Jim Jeffries, who came out of retirement in 1910 to try, but failed. A catch phrase arose, "A Great White Hope". What white hope was there who could beat Jack Johnson. That "white hope" became Jess Willard.

    With Jack Johnson was on the run throughout the U.S. and South America for evading prosecution of "importation of women for prostitution", promoters finally arranged a site for a Willard-Johnson championship bout, first Juarez, Mexico, and then finally Havana, Cuba. Willard fought only 3 bouts in 1914.

    In the meantime, Willard was cast in a 1-reel short film, "The Heart Punch". It was made in late 1914, but not released until February of 1915. As the record already shows it, Willard beat Johnson in 26 rounds of a scheduled 45-round bout, in simmering 100 degree plus humid temperatures of Havana. After the Johnson fight, Willard only boxed 4 other fights -- all exhibitions. Suddenly, Jess Willard was very popular -- in the world of boxing, of course, for bringing back the championship to the "white race," and in the U.S. lucrative offers abounded -- the movies, the stage. Willard did a stint in vaudeville at Hammersteins' Victoria Theatre in New York, but the biggest deal was with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and later the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, which he owned and operated from 1916-1918.

    In 1916, Willard fought 6 times, one with Frank Moran. There were probably countless exhibitions in 1917, while with the 101 Ranch Wild West Show; and 4 recorded bouts in 1918.

    In 1919, just before Willard took on Jack Dempsey, he made a 7-reel feature film, "The Challenge of Chance," the only feature film he ever starred in.

    The 24 year-old Dempsey beat Willard over three rounds -- one of the most controversial bouts in history. No one can know for sure now, but photos of Willard's bruised body on one side only, plus the logic of a man going to the mat several times in the firstt round, but not again thereafter -- hints of something very suspicious in the fairness of that bout.

    Jess Willard retired from the ring . . . sort of. He fought in a half dozen exhibition bouts in 1922 in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California; and in 1923 made two attempts to make a comeback by fighting Floyd Johnson, TKOing Johnson in the 11th round. The last was in the same year, losing to Luis Firpo in the 8th round.

    Jess and Hattie had 5 children -- 3 girls and 2 boys. The first, Zella, was born in 1909. She was followed by another daughter, Frances, born inn 1911. Their first son, Jess Jr., was born in 1913, followed by another daughter, Enid, in 1914, and then a son, Alan, in 1916. Willard sold his Lawrence, Kansas ranch house in 1921 and moved employment for himself. One was in real-estate. Another was owning the first ranch market, which was in Hollywood, on the corner of Vine and Afton. Jess Willard also earned his livelihood refereeing wrestling matches, which he tolerated, and disclosed of his firsthand knowledge of its fakery. In 1933 he appeared in a bit part in a boxing movie, "The Prizefighter and the Lady", with Max Baer and Myrna Loy.

    Willard did some work overseas with the USO during WWII, but for the most part was a retired citizen. All but one of his children were married by the mid 1940s, and he had 6 grandchildren by 1953. Jess and Hattie lived in a couple of homes in the Los Angeles and Glendale areas before moving to their last house in the San Fernando Valley.

    Jess Willard lived to the age of almost 87, when he died on December 15, 1968.

    1996 Jim Mace

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Jess Willard's Career Record

    1910
    Dec 25 Kid Ferns Oklahoma City, Ok EX
    Dec 26 Kid Ferns Oklahoma City, Ok EX

    1911
    Feb 8 Billy Evart Oklahoma City, Ok EX 4
    Feb 8 Frank Mayo Oklahoma City, Ok EX 5
    -The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
    Feb 15 Louis "Thunder" Fink Sapulpa, Ok LF 10
    Mar 7 Ed Burke El Reno, Ok KO 3
    Mar 24 Louis "Thunder" Fink Oklahoma City, Ok KO 3
    -Some sources report 3/28/11
    Apr 11 Battling Britt El Reno, Ok SCH
    -This bout was scheduled but not held;
    Britt backed out
    Apr 11 Patsy Corrigan El Reno, Ok EX
    Apr 11 Frank Mayo El Reno, Ok EX
    Apr 11 E.A. Cruse El Reno, Ok EX
    -The previous 3 bouts were held the same date
    Apr 14 Al Mandino Oklahoma City, Ok KO 4
    Apr 29 Joe Cavanaugh Oklahoma City, Ok KO 11
    May 15 William Schiller Oklahoma City, Ok KO 4
    -Some sources report 6/08/11
    Jul 4 Frank Lyon Elk City, Ok W 10
    Jul 5 W.O. Stuckey Cheyenne, Ok SCH
    -This bout was scheduled; The outcome is not known
    Oct 11 Joe Cox Springfield, Mo L 5
    -Willard claimed he was instructed by the referee
    "not to box" and retired
    Oct Victor McLaglen Springfield, Mo EX

    1912
    May 23 John "Bull" Young Fort Wayne, In KO 6
    Jun 29 Frank Bowers St. Charles, Il KO 3
    Jul 2 John "Bull" Young South Chicago, Il KO 5
    Jul 29 Arthur Pelkey New York, NY ND 10
    Aug 19 Luther McCarty New York, NY ND 10
    Dec 2 "Sailor" Charles White Buffalo, NY KO 1
    Dec 27 Alfred "Soldier" Kearns New York, NY KO 8

    1913
    Jan 22 Frank Bauer Fort Wayne, In KO 5
    Mar 5 Jack Leon Fort Wayne, In KO 4
    May 20 Ed "Gunboat" Smith Colma, Ca L 20
    -Some sources report "San Francisco, Ca"
    Jun 27 Charlie Miller San Francisco, Ca D 4
    Jul 4 Al Williams Reno, Nv TK 8
    -Some sources report "W 8"
    Aug 22 John "Bull" Young Vernon, Ca KO 11
    -Young died from broken neck received in the fight
    Nov 17 George "Boer" Rodel Milwaukee, Wi ND 10
    Nov 24 Jack Reed Fort Wayne, In KO 2
    Dec 3 Carl Morris New York, NY ND 10
    Dec 12 George "One-Round" Davis Buffalo, NY KO 2
    Dec 29 George "Boer" Rodel New Haven, Ct KO 9

    1914
    Mar 27 Tom "Bearcat" McMahon Youngstown, Oh ND 12
    -Some sources report "L 12"
    Apr 13 Dan Daily Buffalo, NY KO 9
    Apr 28 George "Boer" Rodel Atlanta, Ga KO 6

    1915
    Feb 24 "Sailor" Jack Carroll Kansas City, Mo EX 3
    Feb Walter Monahan in Texas EX
    Apr 5 Jack Johnson Havana, Cuba KO 26
    -Heavyweight Championship of the World
    Apr 10 Walter Monahan Philadelphia, Pa EX 3
    Hugh Walker EX 3
    May 14 Fred Fulton Rochester, Mn EX 4

    1916
    Mar 25 Frank Moran New York, NY ND 10
    -Heavyweight Championship of the World
    Aug 8 Alfred "Soldier" Kearns Plattsburg, NY EX 2
    Sep 12 Sailor Burke Bridgeport, Ct W 6

    1918
    Jul 4 Jim Golden Fort Riley, Ks EX 10
    Jul 18 Tim Logan Chester, Pa EX 10

    1919
    Jun Walter Monahan Maumee, Oh EX
    -Willard sparred often with Monahan in preparation
    for his bout with Dempsey
    Jul 4 Jack Dempsey Toledo, Oh LT 3
    -Heavyweight Championship of the World

    1922
    Nov 15 an unnamed opponent Hollywood, Ca EX
    Nov 15 an unnamed opponent Hollywood, Ca EX
    Nov 15 Tom Kennedy Hollywood, Ca EX 2
    Nov 15 Joe Bonds Hollywood, Ca EX 2
    -The previous 4 bouts were held the same date
    Dec 19 Scotty Messer Portland, Or EX 2
    Dec 19 Jim Borden Portland, Or EX 1
    -Willard knocked Borden out;
    The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
    Dec 20 Scotty Messer Milwaukee, Or EX 2
    Dec 20 Tom Barnson Milwaukee, Or EX 2
    -The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
    Dec 27 Frank Farmer Yakima, Wa EX
    Dec 27 Alden Schumacher Yakima, Wa EX
    -The previous 2 bouts were held the same date
    Dec 28 Frank Farmer Yakima, Wa EX 3
    Dec 28 Alden Schumacher Yakima, Wa EX 3
    Dec 28 Frank Farmer Tacoma, Wa EX
    -The previous 3 bouts were held the same date

    1923
    Feb 19 Harry Drake Detroit, Mi EX 4
    May 12 Floyd Johnson Bronx, NY TK 11
    Jul 12 Luis Angel Firpo Jersey City, NJ LK 8
    Nick Newman Atchison, Ks EX 6

    1926
    Jimmy O'Gatty New York, NY EX 3


    *** The Following Bout Is Reported But Not Confirmed ***

    1911
    Jul 16 Mike Comiskey Hammond, Ok W 10
    -Some sources report "Mike McKimminsky" on 8/10/11

    *** NCR ALL-TIME HEAVYWEIGHT COMPUTER TOURNAMENT ***
    1968
    Joe Louis LK 15
    Record courtesy of Tracy Callis and Arly Allen, Historians, International Boxing Research Organization

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Disagree. NOBODY, maybe nobody in history was gonna knock out Jack Johnson in 11 or 12 rounds. You are talking about maybe the best heavyweight boxer in history. It (under those rules) took 20 rounds of taking a beating and then acting like a man and a fighter and coming back to win. This was a performance few fighters could have done unless they were very very strong, game, and powerful and in great shape. Those are assets Willard showed in that ring that few men ever have. Yes he took a beating of sorts, but NEVER was he in danger of losing. He knew where he was and what he was doing the whole time. Great performance IMO.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Willard was an extremely well conditioned, strong tough man that day. He outlasted Johnson. If it were a 20 round fight, he would have lost 18 rounds.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by HE Grant
    Willard was an extremely well conditioned, strong tough man that day. He outlasted Johnson. If it were a 20 round fight, he would have lost 18 rounds.
    I don't think so. In a 20-round fight, my guess is that Willard picks up the pace a lot sooner. Johnson might have gotten the nod, he was a great great fighter, after all, but I don't think that's a foregone conclusion.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    While Jess Willard wasn't the most graceful fighter in the
    world, he knew how to use his strength, reach, and size
    well based what I have seen of him in pre-World War I
    footage.

  13. #13
    Roberto Aqui
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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Willard has been greatly maligned, but he did make his money in the day in exhibitions at the expense of his career.

    He'd still be one of the larger heavies today with no additional training. The right hand that got Johnson would have KOed 98% of the heavies in history. A beautiful leaping straight right from the supposed unathletic Willard.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy


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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy


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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy


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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Thats some newspaper clip. Amazing. Kiki again youre the man.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Thanks Rocky

    Frank

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    I doubt that big time E...there was not a damn thing he could do with Johnson...Jack slapped him silly ... this was 100 % a matter of an old man getting tired...it was blazing hot in there and Willard wanted to get out as soon as possible as well.

  20. #20
    Roberto Aqui
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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by HE Grant
    I doubt that big time E...there was not a damn thing he could do with Johnson...Jack slapped him silly ... this was 100 % a matter of an old man getting tired...it was blazing hot in there and Willard wanted to get out as soon as possible as well.
    Willard really didn't try to use many of his assets early. He had a plan that worked. Johnson had a plan to get him out early that didn't work. Yeah, Johnson was tired, but those steady Willard jabs and that heart shot a couple rounds earlier set Johnson up.

    Willard was the novice fighter and only a few years younger and had also been more inactive than Johnson. Like the thread states, he's much maligned and never received proper credit.

    Oh, I thought I had shown it could not have been that hot that day. Probably both suffered exhaustion from full sun and full humidity, not the heat which likely was around 80-85 degrees.

  21. #21
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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Jack Johnson weighed around 225 pounds against Willard. All the newspaper accounts around the time of the fight put his weight at 230 pounds or so in the days shortly before the fight.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Roberto: Willard's own words...it was hot as hell in there....so you are saying he could have used his well known abilities to cut off a ring, his legendary speed and overall boxing skills and cut Johnson down with his blazing, accurate punching in about five rounds if he felt like it but did not want to change his plan? Get real please. He lost every minute of the fight for the first 20 rounds to a 37 year old man who trained in a saloon. He won because he was a tremendous physical specimen, in great shape, focused, hungry and in a prime position to outlast that Johnson. Credit him for doing it but let's be real. Let's not overate him or underate him.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr E
    You know, I believe Johnson had to have been past his prime against Willard-- he was 37 and rusty besides (he was coming off a lay-off and had been fighting only irregularly for some time before that), but I do not believe he was "out of shape." To the contrary, he came in at 205-- 16 pounds less than he weighed against Frank Moran-- and had brought Sam McVey down to Havana with him to help him train. IMO, he took the bout seriously and got himself into as good shape as was possible for his body @ the time.
    No, the newspapers of the day said that Johnson weighed about 228 pounds for Willard, and had not trained very hard for the fight. E.g. Chicago Tribune, 4/1/1915 p. 13 and 4/4/1915 (Tale of the Tape). The Washington Post said he was carrying 8 inches more around his waist than when he fought Jeffries. 4/1/1915 p. 8.

    Also, he trained with Bob Armstrong (who was nearly 42-years-old), not Sam McVey.
    Last edited by raylawpc; 12-17-2006 at 10:49 PM.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Guys look at the many photos of Johnson's body from the fight. He had big handlebars and a belly. Your eyes will not lie about this. Look at him in every fight post Jeffries and he gets worse. He was a disturbed man, exhausted by being chased around the world, basically a fugitive from his own country, his financial options dwindling as his passion for the game dies out.

    He had to be in some sort of condition to go that distance but he was no where near the Johnson of Reno five years earlier. The Willard fight was lost at the contract signing. Johnson obviously had no idea how tough Willard was or he never would have agreed to a fight for that distance at that point in his career. To this day I have no idea why he agreed to it unless he was so overconfident he made a terrible mistake.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    I think he simply figured Willard would not possess the skill to hang with him. He was huge for one thing, which would lead one to believe he didn't have the skill to go along with his size, and he started boxing late and everyone knew it. Johnson probably figured Willard was a novelty act who he'd easily outclass. I don't think he could have realized the stamina and skill Willard possessed for his size.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Let's not forget that Johnson was broke. He had worn out his welcome in Europe (and war was on the horizon), and a convicted felon who jumped bail and couldn't enter the U.S.. Latin America was open, but he couldn't make a living there giving exhibitions. How else was he going to make any money?

    If they had offered to match him with King Kong, the guy probably would have taken the fight.
    Last edited by raylawpc; 12-18-2006 at 08:13 PM.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Willard was a man with great strength, stamina, chin and good power. So was Oliver McCall.

    He was a worthy champion, and not a complete buffoon. He also was not, upon reexamination an adroit boxer-puncher with significant acumen placing him above the Johannsons, Spinks, WBA forgettables and unmentionables and other contenders for "bottom half on the role call of heavyweight champion" honors.

    As for beating Johnson, Johnson was reduced and diminished, and should be afforded such recognition as such. He, like Louis, Holmes, Foreman, Ray Leonard, Robinson et al, believed he would win every time he signed for a match, and I am convinced if he had seen footage of Willard making leather boots out of full sized cows with his bare hands he STILL signs to fight him.

    So Jess Willard probably could have made Lennox Lewis soberly concentrate had they fought. I am also sure he could give Joe Baksi and Lee Oma losses on their ledger or make them scrape for wins. As a bum of the month, I would think the press would mention that Abe Simon looked like a poor-man's Willard.

    And yet, I don't think those calling him among the least of the best are totally selling him short. Better than Carnera? Sure he was. Ingo? I dunno.

    In a 30 round fight, no one would enjoy fighting Jess Willard. In a 15 rounder, I'd send my guy in with him before several others. He is maligned when people associate his complexion to his worth, and lump him into a category of carnival character with gloves.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by raylawpc
    No, the newspapers of the day said that Johnson weighed about 228 pounds for Willard, and had not trained very hard for the fight. E.g. Chicago Tribune, 4/1/1915 p. 13 and 4/4/1915 (Tale of the Tape). The Washington Post said he was carrying 8 inches more around his waist than when he fought Jeffries. 4/1/1915 p. 8.

    Also, he trained with Bob Armstrong (who was nearly 42-years-old), not Sam McVey.
    Waitaminute-- I know I read somewhere just recently that Johnson and McVey even fought an exhibition shortly before the Willard bout and I've seen McVey in the photos as one of Johnson's seconds that day. Am I just completely mixed up? [A possibility.]

    Johnson sure doesn't look like he has any 8 extra inches around his middle to me, and the weight I've always seen listed is 205. You're saying that weight was wrong?

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Jack Johnson weighed about 225-228 before the fight. All of the contemporary accounts I have seen are unanimous in this fact. (I quoted a few earlier). I have a clipping somewhere in which he told Robert Edgren that he expected to weigh between 220 to 225 for the fight. He also admitted to Edgren that it might appear he had not been training very hard, but he was, in fact, "saving himself" for the bout. I will find the clipping if necessary.

    McVey was already in Havana to fight Battling Jim Johnson (they fought in February) when Johnson came to Havana. But his chief trainer (read: sparring partner) was Bob Armstrong. It is certainly possible that McVey helped out. But Johnson didn't bring McVey down there; he was already there.
    Last edited by raylawpc; 12-18-2006 at 09:28 PM.

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    Re: willard... most maligned champ legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by raylawpc
    Jack Johnson weighed about 225-228 before the fight. All of the contemporary accounts I have seen are unanimous in this fact. (I quoted a few earlier). I have a clipping somewhere in which he told Robert Edgren that he expected to weigh between 220 to 225 for the fight. He also admitted to Edgren that it might appear he had not been training very hard, but he was, in fact, "saving himself" for the bout. I will find the clipping if necessary.

    McVey was already in Havana to fight Battling Jim Johnson (they fought in February) when Johnson came to Havana. But his chief trainer (read: sparring partner) was Bob Armstrong. It is certainly possible that McVey helped out. But Johnson didn't bring McVey down there; he was already there.
    I will take your word for it re the Armstrong/McVey issue. Thanks for the info.

    I don't believe a word Johnson said to Edgren or anyone else about any aspect of the Willard fight. That's not to say the official weight of 205 wasn't wrong, of course, but Johnson's word on the subject of his weight is as irrelevant to me as his word on the subject of whether the fight itself was on the level.

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