Much Ado About Nothing

Damon Runyon

New York American/January 1, 1917

The Mornin’s Mornin

Well, it appears that all our late feverishness about Les Darcy, and Georges Carpentier, and prospective championship matches, and all such as that, was a trifle premature.

The apparent violent activity in matters pugilistic was just a froth on the surface. Slowly everything is settling back to a restful calm. The only noticeable agitation on the bosom of events is the slight ripple over in yon distant shallow caused by Fred Wenck, of the boxing commission, who says someone said something ornery about him, and a thousand bucks.

Well, anyway, it was a great life while it lasted.

Georges Carpentier is not coming to America—not for a long time at all events. You can go bet on that. Les Darcy is not going to fight anyone. He is going in vaudeville.

Jess Willard will commit no contests around here because a canvas of the “public demand” for his appearance disclosed a singular vacuum. Freddy Welsh and Johnny Kilbane are going to take their tourney to Cleveland, or Toledo, or some other distant port, and so here we all are again as flat as a seidel of stale Christiana.

It looks as if Tex Rickard, the great promoter, who had a lot of wonderful matches steamed up in his imagination, and no place to hold ’em, will have to think up something in a hurry to keep in the newspapers. The soft, sibilant sound of the old raspberry is rising for Tex, the great promoter, and rapidly gathering volume.

If publicity is what Tex was after, we must say for him that he got it, but now that he has it, what is he going to do with it? A promoter must keep promoting, else he will presently fall into the same class with our amazingly large array of promoters who never promote anything save a slight irritation of the public ear. Beware of the raspberry, Tex—the old ras’.

Offers to Darcy.

Half a dozen bona fide propositions have been made to Darcy for battles with the best men in his class in America. He has failed to accept one.

He has put them all aside for “future consideration.” Maybe Rickard is responsible for this, in the vague hope that he will still land Carpentier, or that he will get Madison Square Garden, where Darcy might draw more money than anywhere else. But whatever the reason for the Australian’s attitude, it has succeeded in developing doubt as to the sincerity of his declaration that he is anxious to get busy in the ring.

The doubt is sure to be increased if Darcy spends the next ten or fifteen weeks in vaudeville. Jeff Smith, a man who claims to have made Darcy quit in five rounds, and Mike Gibbons, one of the best of the American middleweights, are ready and willing to meet the Australian light heavyweight, and one would think Darcy would be glad to get a crack at the first names, in view of the unsatisfactory endings to their previous bouts.

There are a great many followers of the fistic game in this country who are firm in the belief that Darcy is going to have a very, very tough time with the first-flight boxers of America, especially in ten rounds, and Darcy’s hesitancy in matching up leads to the suspicion that perhaps he entertains some such opinion himself.

Let’s See Him!

Because a lot of so called experts take a look at Darcy, and pronounce him, on the strength of their visual survey, a great fighter, it does not follow that he is a great fighter. You cannot tell how far a frog can jump by feeling of its legs.

Some years back one Bill Squires, of Australia, came here to fight Tommy Burns, and there was almost as much disturbance over his advent as attended the arrival of Darcy. This is not to insinuate that Darcy may prove as sad a case as Bill turned out to be, but at that Bill had even a better paper record than the young light heavyweight when he first landed.

Out of ten fights in two years, Bill was credited with winning eight by quick knockouts. He won five in a single round. His opponents in most cases, however, were men of little or no class. He landed is San Francisco in 1907, and received a grand ballyhoo, but Tommy Burns knocked him kicking in a round at Colma on July 4.

In September of 1907 Bill met Jack Twin Sullivan at San Francisco, and old Jack dropped him in nineteen rounds. In December of that year Jim Flynn stopped Bill in eight rounds at Bakersfield. Then Bill went to Dublin in 1908 and beat Jim Roche in four rounds, but the following month Tommy Burns knocked him cold in eight rounds in Paris.

Thomas was so pleased with Squires that he again met him in Sydney, N. S. W., in the same year, and licked the redoubtable Bill in thirteen rounds. To wind up an interesting career, Bill met Bill Lang three times hand running, and was knocked out each time, twice in the twentieth round.

An Easy Start.

If they intend pursuing the ten-round tour, Darcy and Darcy’s handlers could scarcely be blamed if they picked out a comparatively soft one as a starter of Les. As a matter of fact, this would be about the wisest thing they could do, in view of Darcy’s unfamiliarity with American ring methods, and the short trip.

It would be foolish to send him in for ten rounds against such as Gibbons, Billy Miske, Jack Dillon or Battling Levinsky until he had familiarized himself with conditions. But New Orleans offers him the long …

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

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