Matching Them Out of Class Hurting Game

Damon Runyon

San Francisco Examiner/January 4, 1924

Johnny Wilson Showing Great Improvement; Three Good English Fighters Now in U. S.


New York, Jan. 3.—The middleweight division, well nigh defunct for years, suddenly finds itself possessed of some little class.

It is in a fair way to a real revival. It requires the activity of the matchmakers, who seem to have lost sight of the division, to put it back where it belongs.

For years it has been said that the division died with the passing of Stanley Ketchell, “The Michigan Assassin.” This saying finally came to be accepted as a fact. A number of mediocre champions of the division added to the belief that the class was gone.

But in the past two or three years new middleweights have been developing.

There may be no Ketchells among them but there are some real good men in the division, as good in point of boxing ability as the division has ever known.

The trouble with the middleweight division, as the writer sees it, is that the matchmakers have fallen in with the theory that the division his disappeared. Instead of matching middleweights against middleweights, they match middleweights against light heavyweights, and the light heavyweight class is small. A middleweignt nowadays is a man who weighs 160 pounds or under, while if he scales a pound above 160 pounds he rates as a light heavyweight.

As a matter of fact, the very best of the middleweights today with the exception of the champion, Harry Greb, are men around 158 pounds and even lighter.

As proof of the class of the division just now, the writer makes bold to say that there are half a dozen legitimate middleweights who can give Greb a good fight, perhaps best him, yet Greb has been whipping light heavyweights and heavyweights for years.

A class must be good that has men able to stand off a man who has beaten Tom Gibbons, a fighter who went fifteen rounds with Jack Dempsey.

There are three real good English middleweights in America at the present time. Roland Todd, the English champion, Ted Moore and Frank Moody.

The first showing the matchmakers here gave Todd was against a light heavyweight. They did not accord him the courtesy of a showing against a man in his own class. Todd lost the decision, but made a strong impression.

Moore and Moody are both good men. They have had few opportunities since coming to America.

Johnny Wilson, as the writer told you the other day, has improved greatly since he lost the middleweight title. In a finish fight the writer would pick Wilson to beat any middleweight in the world.

He is a slow beginner. He picks up as a fight progresses. At the end of his fifteen-round fight with Greb, in which he lost the title, Wilson was coming on so stoutly that the writer believes he would have stopped Greb in twenty-five rounds.

St. Paul, the home of some good middleweights of the past, Danny Needham, Mike Gibbons, Mike O’Dowd, among them, has another entry in the class in Jock Malone, one of the cleverest men in the game. Malone is a light middleweight, barely weighing over 160 pounds.

Detroit has a collegian entry in Rob Sage, who studies law in between ring engagements. Sage is a good boxer and a strong hitter.

Other middleweights who make the division compare favorably with any other period of its history are Bert Colinia of the Pacific Coast, the greatest four-round fighter in the world; Jack Delaney of Bridgeport, who once stopped Colima; Eugene Ratner, the “Harlem Hurricane.”

Then there is Dan Hickey’s’new man, Paul Berlenback, picked by many shrewd observers as the next champion of the class, and Leo P. Flynn’s dark-skinned diamond belt holder, Panama Joe Gans.



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