McLarnin vs. Ross, Foster vs. New York

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader/May 31, 1935

New York, May 31. Old Pop Foster and Jimmy McLarnin have taken about $128,000 out of New York City in just exactly a year.

None the less, Pop was pretty hot at everybody around here for 48 hours following the third McLarnin-Ross fight.

He was bawling out the Boxing Commission, the judges of the fight, Referee Jack Dempsey, and the big town in general. He said there is no justice here for McLarnin, though he would have to admit there is plenty of money.

He wound up by directing his ire at the promoter of the fight, Mike Jacobs, because Dempsey was in there as the third man, though a promoter has no more to with selecting the referee and the judges than General Hugh Johnson.

As a matter of fact, a promoter rarely knows the referee and the judges of a bout before the spectators themselves, though Jacobs would have been delighted if he could have capitalized in advance on the presence of Dempsey in the ring. But Pop Foster can be excused to some extent because the old gentleman is so wrapped up in Jimmy that he can see only Jim’s side of any argument—his James can do no wrong. The irascible Pop’s temper had cooled by the time he got around to collecting his money, he was not so drastic in his declamations, and he was duly apologetic to Promoter Jacobs.

No Excuse for Pop

There are excuses for Pop, we say, but there can be no excuses for the conduct of another gentleman interested in the promotion of boxing who took occasion to shoot off his mouth at the ringside Tuesday night, condemning the promoting club for the decision, when this gentleman knows better than anybody else that the club has nothing to say about the officials and could not influence a decision one way or another, even if it so desired.

(No, the gentleman wasn’t Mr. James J. Johnston. The Old Boy Bandit was busy gathering names of celebrities at the ringside for this very writer, but as he usually is accused of all malfeasances in fistiana, it is only fair to absolve him herein.)

The gentleman perhaps regretted his foolish cracks as soon as he made them, because we give him credit for intelligence, enough to know that he was dead wrong, and was also being extremely petty. But the incident shows you that Pop Foster is not the only one who lost his head Tuesday night.

Crowd Well Handled

Never was there a better conducted boxing show in the City of New York.

Most of the credit should go to the New York Police Department.

Police Commissioner Lewis J. Valentine had plenty of his men inside and outside the Polo Grounds, and the spectators commented in complimentary terms on the prompt and orderly manner in which the crowd was handled. There was none of the confusion that often attends a big fight crowd, save at one entrance where a gateman erred in admitting the ringside seat holders into the stands, instead of sending them to the main ringside gate, but the police speedily straightened this out.

The crowd fooled Promoter Jacobs by not using the speedway entrances as liberally as usual, the new subways making the Eighth Avenue gates more convenient, but in general, through the co-operation of the police, the arrangements were as near perfect as is possible.

5,800 Ringside Sold

The fight did not draw quite up to expectations, but $141,000 gross is not to be sneezed at when you consider that this was the third time around for McLarnin and Ross right here in New York.

Promoter Jacobs sold 5,800 ringside seats at $10 per seat. The falling off was in the cheaper seats. This indicates that the boys who have always bought the highest priced seats are still able to buy them, but the lads who used to purchase the $1 and $2 perches no longer have those bobs.

The trouble with a McLarnin-Ross fight from the spectator’s standpoint is that not enough happens.

They give an exhibition that must be a delight to the lover of the fistic science—they feint and countermand, and make each other miss and do all those things that come under the heading of The Manly Art of Self Defense.

Honest Performers

They are both superb craftsmen, both dead game, both thoroughly honest performers.

But they do not knock each other down or knock each other out, and so only the discerning few appreciate their skill, for what the pugilistic proletariat wants, if anybody drives up and asks you, is plenty of blood and thunder inside those ropes, and not mere art.

Jack Britton and Ted-Kid Lewis, welterweight champions of another era, fought twenty odd tunes, and hated each other with increasing violence with every fight, and nearly every fight was a corker from the standpoint of science, but as in the case of McLarnin and Ross, not enough happened.

It is quite probable that McLarnin and Ross will fight a fourth time, though not in New York. It is a great fight for any crowd that hasn’t seen it, and it is conceivable that something may eventually happen. Even in the Britton-Lewis matter, Britton finally scored a knockout over the Englishman.

But as it now takes Pop Foster about a year to fully cool out and decide on Jimmy’s next step, the thing for Ross to do is to attempt his old poundage of 135 pounds and give game little Tony Canzoneri a chance to demonstrate himself the real lightweight champion in fact as well as in name.

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