Les Darcy’s First

Damon Runyon

New York American/January 4, 1917

The Mornin’s Mornin

After annoying the vaudeville customers for a spell, Les Darcy will probably grab our justly celebrated middleweight champ, Mr. Al McCoy, of Brooklyn, for a ten-round bout.

Talk of Carpentier, and Jack Dillon, and Mike Gibbons, and Billy Miske is all very well, but Albertus is undoubtedly the lad they have in pickle for Les.

It is the logical bout, in a way. Les cannot then be accused of picking a sucker, because Albertus is recognized as the champ, and yet Albertus is undoubtedly the softest of the bunch of gents in Darcy’s class for ten rounds.

The folks would think more of Les, perhaps, if he nominated Albertus for a twenty-round battle, and Albertus might prove a surprise and shock in twenty rounds, but there is little prospect of him surprising anybody in ten. Darcy can undoubtedly pummel Al in that distance, and make a good showing, and he always has the chance of knocking out Albertus, and thus gaining recognition as the title holder.

As a matter of downright fact, it is very doubtful if either Al or Les can do the weight that used to be required of middleweights in America, but that will make no difference. Every old weight line, with perhaps a single exception, has been obliterated anyway. The title holders fix the weight divisions nowadays, and the fistic followers accept the arrangement.

The State Boxing Commission has some sort of power in this particular premise, and doubtless could prevent the ballyhoo of any contest as a championship event where the contestants are not making the weights outlined by the commission itself, but nobody expects the boxing commission to do anything about anything anymore. So the Darcy-McCoy affair will be a middleweight championship clash at about 168 pounds ringside.

Darcy Shows Wisdom

Ethically, perhaps, Jeff Smith, the Bayonne battler, would appear to have first call on Les in view of the unsatisfactory ending of their two fights in Australia, but Les’s handlers are undoubtedly going to take into consideration the fact that there is little to be gained in boxing Jeff and everything to lose.

Jeff has only himself to blame that he is not in line to create a demand for a Darcy-Smith battle. His ring achievements have been few and far between since returning to America the last time. He is one of those good fighters who are rarely discovered fighting, although that may not be his fault as much as it is the fault of the brethren of his class.

In any event, he is not likely to get a crack at Darcy. Albertus is the prospective victim. In snatching Albertus, Darcy shows much wisdom, because in addition to having comparative cinch, with a chance at the title, Les will probably get most of the money. The match may not draw much, compared to what other matches might draw, but Les will doubtless demand the fattest portion of what it does draw.

Our middleweight champ, Mr. Albertus McCoy, has ever been rather modest in his financial demands, anyway. The strongest he has ever gone was when he was offered a twenty-round tussle in New Orleans with some bird and asked for $7,500. Still, it was too much for the New Orleans promoters, at that.

He Can Lick Al

The tremendous publicity Darcy has received is certain to make him a great drawing card in his first fight, regardless of his opponent. If he hurdles that first one in good style, he will be a still better card, so he cannot be blamed if he exercises some caution in picking his first opponent.

He would be a fine come-on to light on Dillon, Gibbons or Miske for a ten-round tourney, wouldn’t he? The chances are that any one of the three, in their present form, and with their present knowledge of the short sprint, would make J. Lester look extremely bad.

No matter what his earnest ballyhooers say, there is nothing in Darcy’s record to indicate that he is any marvel. He fought two twenty-round battles with George Knockout Brown, and Brown claims he was entitled to a decision in the last one, while admitting that he lost the first. Billy Miske had Brown punch-drunk and almost out in their ten-round go over in Brooklyn the other afternoon.

Everyone pummels Al McCoy in ten rounds, however—everyone from Jake Ahearn to Mike Gibbons, and Darcy ought to be able to do the same. Everyone pummels Al, but no one puts him out, and there will at least be an element of speculation to the McCoy-Darcy go as to whether Les can do what all the American middles have failed to do. If he fails he is no worse off than when he started; if he succeeds, he has done something.

McCoy won his title by knocking out George Chip in the first round, Chip holding a claim that traced back to a defeat of Frank Klaus. Chip fought McCoy again after that one-round event, and the boys do say that Albertus was down on the floor for a long, long, long—oh, a very long time—but that the authorities then and there in authority failed to take cognizance of more than nine seconds of his recumbence.

Al Is the Champ

Be that as it may, Albertus is called the middleweight champ; Albertus with his 165 pounds, more or less; his heavy legs and his right hand posture, and all, and he who would be king of that division in America must first knock Albertus cold.

They have all tried it. They have all failed. Albertus never wins, but he never loses. He is always in there at the finish; he is always mussed up, maltreated, dragging his two heavy legs after him and grinning pleasantly and bloodily, but he is always there.

Mike Gibbons is probably the only man in America of any class who can scale the legitimate middleweight mark—the mark which has been obliterated with all the rest of the weight marks—yet Mike could not drop Albertus in ten rounds. Mike is today the uncrowned king of the middles, with few real contenders in sight.

Hughy Ross, of Bridgeport: Jimmy O’Hagen, of New York, and Augie Ratner, of New York, are a few lads who are coming along steadily and who are legitimate occupants of the division once graced by Dempsey. Fitzsimmons, Ryan, McCoy and Ketchel; but the old weight line has faded, and under present conditions it will probably be a long time before it is restored.

(Source: University of Wisconsin New York American microfilm archive)

The works of Damon Runyon and other American journalists are now freely available at The Archive of American Journalism. Visit our bookstore for single-volume collections–-ideal for research, reference use or casual reading.