Willard-Moran Bout is Too Short

Damon Runyon

Salt Lake Tribune/January 28, 1916

Gets Going Slowly

In spite of the terrific excitement, and the heft of the offers that are being made for a ten-round bout between Jess Willard and Frank Moran, we incline to the belief that such a bout would furnish a middling poor show.

It might serve to give a line on the two men for a subsequent and longer bout, but that’s all. It would probably not be half as exciting as either of the fights between Moran and Coffey.

Willard is a slow beginner. While his record of about thirty battles shows something like nineteen knockouts, his victims in these cases were mostly nonentities of the prize ring, and where he met an opponent of even small ability big Jess generally failed to reduce his man inside ten rounds.

He goes fast enough when he finally gets to going, but it takes some time to arouse him. In the past his temperament was largely responsible for his slowness, the long Kansan being a good-natured bird who seemed to greatly dislike the task in hand, and maybe his temperament has changed since he became champion. Now and then in his fights Jess used to occasionally display a dash of anger and would go out to dispose of the enemy as rapidly as possible, but mainly he is off to a loggy start.

In the first year of his fistic career he dropped several impressions, but even in that year Jess had to go eleven rounds to win one scrap, and lost another in ten rounds on a foul. Two other bouts are indicated in his record as ten-round winds for Jess.

Big Jess’s Record

In his second year he flattened one John Young twice in six, and then five rounds; beat a Mr. Frank Bauer in three, Sailor White in one and Soldier Kearns in eight. Then he ran against Arthur Pelky and Luther McCarty, and failed to stop either in ten-round affairs. He was going up a little in the class of men he was meeting but dropping back in finishing ability as he went up.

In 1913 his knockouts inside of ten rounds included Frank Bauer, One Round Davis, Jack Leon, who is said to be none other than Ivan Linow, the Wild Cossack wrestler, who is just returning to the fighting game; George Rodel, Al Williams and Jack Reed. It took him eight rounds to beat Rodel and eight to win from Williams. He whipped poor old “Bull” Young in eleven rounds that year, “Bull” dying as a result of the encounter, though he was about half dead when they let him enter the ring.

Jess could not stop Carl Morris in ten rounds, and lost to Gunboat Smith in twenty. He fought a four-round draw with Charley Miller, and a ten-round no-decision bout with Rodel. In 1914 he lost a twelve-rounder to Tom McMahon, the Pittsburg bearcat, at Youngstown, Ohio, and then he knocked out Dan Daily and George Rodel. From the Rodel encounter in April, 1914 until April 5, 1915, when he knocked out Jack Johnson at Havana, Willard did not fight, and he has not fought since he met Johnson.

Johnson as a Basis

It took Willard twenty-six rounds to get old Jack, and it as twenty-six rounds of fairly earnest endeavor. We note that some of is friends say he could have ended the fight sooner, but we take little stock in that statement. Moran went twenty rounds with Johnson at a time when Johnson was perhaps a shade better than he was at Havana, if only because he was a shade younger, and Moran’s friends say he was strong at the finish.

They say, too, that Moran would have won had the fight gone much further, but we are inclined to doubt that assertion, just on general principles. It indicates, however, that the Pittsburger really was closing well, and that he was in no danger of being knocked out. Figuring, then, on the basis of their respective showings against the big black, it seems unlikely that Willard can stop Moran in ten rounds.

After meeting Johnson Moran knocked out Bombardier Wells, Gordon Sims, and Jim Coffey twice, and before meeting Johnson he had dropped Al Palzer and Tim Logan. Prior to that he had his no-decision contest with Sailor White in Philadelphia. Preceding these no-decision affairs he knocked out Al McCluskey in five rounds, and before that he lost to Gunboat Smith in twenty rounds in San Francisco.

Moran’s friends apparently want you to throw out all his fights prior to the Johnson affair, which would deftly erase a number of defeats from the memory, but taking his record as a whole, class of men considered, he seems to be a slightly better finisher than Willard. He has never met a Willard, however.

Moran in Best Shape

He will probably be in better condition than Jess if they meet in New York in the near future, because he has been fighting, while Jess has been idle. Those who saw Willard when he was here the last time say he must weigh in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. He weighed around 265 when he fought Johnson. It is going to be no easy task for him to get rid of all that excess on short notice.

Those who are familiar with the styles of the two men believe that Moran’s best chance to win will be through a consistent attack upon Willard’s body. It is not likely that the Pittsburger can get to Jess’s jaw, and so he will have to try to wear the Kansan down. It seems quite improbable that Moran can do this in ten rounds, if he can do it at all.

Moran can take a terrific pasting, and Willard’s failure to drop such as Tom McMahon argues that Moran should weather ten rounds without any trouble. The result of the match, if it is made, will probably be a slow, lumbering affair, that may draw in a lot of money, but which will be productive of very little satisfaction.

The announcement that Tex Rickard, promoter of the Gans-Nelson and Johnson-Jeffries fights, wants to stage the Willard-Moran matter at the Hippodrome, caused some discussion yesterday, and the question was raised as to whether the boxing commission could issue a licensee for a fight at the Hippodrome. The law provides that anyone applying for a license must own or hold a lease for at least a year upon the building wherein it is proposed to conduct the boxing.

Fred Wenek, chairman of the boxing commission, informs us that it would be a simple matter for the owners of the Hip or any similar house to take out such a license, either for the purpose of covering one event, such as the Willard-Moran affair, or for a series of events on occasions when the house is not otherwise occupied.

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