Welterweight Title Tilt Tonight

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader/May 28, 1935

New York, May 28.-Tonight, at the Polo Grounds, Jimmy McLarnin of Vancouver, defends his title of welterweight champion of the world against Barney Ross of Chicago.

The indications are that this, the opening show of the New York outdoor boxing season and the third meeting between the men, will draw a crowd of upwards of 50,000 and gate receipts of over $200,000.

They fought twice last year.

When they met the first time, Ross was lightweight champion, and McLarnin was welterweight king, and fighting his first fight since winning the title from Young Corbett, III, of California, a year previously.

Ross won on points at the end of fifteen rounds. It was close, so close that a return match was inevitable.

In their second fight, much postponed because of bad weather, McLarnin was declared the winner.

Again it was very close.

Ross retained his title of lightweight champion after being the first man in fistic history to hold both the lightweight and welterweight title at the same time.

He kept fighting at intervals through the winter. McLarnin in the meantime remained idle. Ross found he was having trouble with the lightweight limit. He could make it, all right, but the comfort of the welterweight division with no trouble whatever about making 147 pounds, lingered in his memory.

The New York Boxing Commission elected one Lou Ambers of Herkimer, N.Y., as its No. 1 lightweight challenger, and said Ross would have to fight Ambers before he could fight anyone else in New York.

A match with Ambers presented no glowing financial prospects to Ross, and he finally came into New York and vacated his lightweight title, leaving the way clear to a third match, between McLarnin and himself.

Ambers was then matched with Tony Canzoneri, former lightweight champion, for the lightweight title, and Canzoneri won with ease, and now is the recognized title holder. This same Canzoneri was twice defeated by Ross who took the lightweight title from the New York Italian, then whipped him again when Canzoneri figured as the challenger.

Obviously there was not much contention for Ross in the lightweight division and he steered a wise financial course in moving out. Win or lose against McLarnin he can always drop back and essay the 135 pounds of the lightweight division, if he desires.

The writer leans to Ross in the fight tonight for several reasons.

He is younger than McLarnin, has been in more active service, and figures to improve over his past fights.

He is a pretty cute boxer, and in their first fight he made McLarnin fight to suit him. McLarnin likes to have an opponent come to him. He is not so hot when he is required to do the chasing.

At his peak McLarnin was one of the deadliest punchers of the little men. Against Ross his punch, if he still retains it, was not so much in evidence, as he was always firing at a moving target. It is possible, of course, that too much ring rust has removed McLarnin’s sting forever, though it is the writer’s impression that it will be just as well for Ross if he does not undertake to test the theory. Ross has always been a stiff puncher, but never anything like the benumbering clouter that McLarnin used to be.

Yet McLarnin began his career as strictly a boxer, an exponent of fistic science in its highest form. He was little, and fast, and flashy, apparently without much punch until one night he laid Jackie Fields low with a right hand crack to the chin.

Thereafter McLarnin became quite conscious of his punching power. For a time he was “right hand crazy,” as the boys say. He knocked all his opponents cock-eyed. Indeed, he flattened his last opponent before he met Ross, to win the welterweight title. But against Ross, he has seemed just a boxer.

Both McLarnin and Ross have been training with the same idea in mind—to score a knockout in their third meeting.

McLarnin has boxed in five different classes, from the 112 pound on up to the welterweight, and if he beats Ross it is said he plans to invade the middleweight division. Ross did some fighting below the lightweight notch, but he gained all his fame among the 135.

McLarnin has been one of the greatest drawing cards that New York has ever known. His two fights with Ross, one of them almost completely spoiled by bad weather, yanked in $332,000. He has had some of his greatest ring successes in New York, and is beloved by the fistic fans of the big town.

Here are two fighters against whom there has never been a breath of suspicion. They are always leveling when they are in the ring, and both their fights against each other have been great fights from every angle. McLarnin has had 10 fights here, lost four and won six. Ross has been defeated once in a New York ring.

Little has been said of the preliminaries to the Ross-McLarnin fight, but behind them tonight will appear one of the most promising fighters in the ring today.

One of them is Sixto Escobar, of Puerto Rico, who is fighting Joey Archibald, of Providence. Escobar is said to be the greatest little fighter since Pancho Villa, and he is giving away weight to Archibald tonight.

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