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The 14th year of the Professional Prizefighting Union comes to a close, and the first Hall of Fame fighter has been enshrined.
ROLL CALL OF CHAMPIONS AT THE END OF 1898
HW: James J. Corbett, 48-5-2 (12 KO’s)
LHW: Frank Craig, 30-7 (22)
MW: Charley Johnson, 34-11-1 (29)
WW: George Cole, 21-1-1 (5)
LW: Young Griffo, 43-6-2 (14)
FW: George Dixon, 47-8 (20)
BW: Jimmy Barry, 24-2 (11)
FLY: Walter Croot, 24-7-1 (5)
TOP 10 POUND FOR POUND
1. Peter Jackson (#1 heavyweight)
2. James J. Corbett (heavyweight champion)
3. Bob Fitzsimmons (#2 heavyweight)
4. Jack McAuliffe (#1 lightweight)
5. Young Griffo (lightweight champion)
6. Jack Dempsey NP (#2 middleweight)
7. Tommy Ryan (#1 welterweight)
8. George Dixon (featherweight champ)
9. Joe Choynski (#1 light heavyweight)
10. Fred Morris (#3 middleweight)
Fighter Of The Year: James J, Corbett
Contender Of The Year: Peter Jackson
Prospect Of The Year: Dick O’ Brien (#10 middleweight)
Rookie Of The Year: George Gardiner
Hall Of Fame: Pat Killen (54-16-1 with 46 KO’s, lost to Peter Jackson for the heavyweight title in 1894, his 46 stoppage wins are the current all-time PPU record, his 54 wins currently tied for 3rd all-time)
On February 1st, 1897, it finally happened in Cleveland, Ohio. After being knocked down in the 1st round, Peter Jackson fouled James J. Corbett with a low blow early in round three. Referee John O’ Brien ruled the foul blatant enough to disqualify Jackson, making “Gentleman Jim” the new world heavyweight champ. Jackson’s reign lasted 32 defenses and ten years and seven months, each of which will be records in the PPU for a considerable time.
ROLL CALL OF CHAMPIONS, END OF 1897
HEAVYWEIGHTS, James J. Corbett (45-5-2, 11 KO’s): Corbett defended his heavyweight title twice more in the year with wins over Dick Matthews (UD 15) and Bob Fitzsimmons (TKO 11). Peter Jackson will be first up for Corbett as 1898 begins, as Jackson gets the automatic shot for winning Contender Of The Year based on his previous achievements. The retainer of the belt then gets Tom Hyer in another automatic title shot after that.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS, Joe Choynski (41-3, 39 KO’s): Choynski made five defenses this year against some rather inferior competition, but some fighters in the middleweight class are moving up to the light heavy division to try and rest the title away from him in 1898.
MIDDLEWEIGHTS, Jack Dempsey NP (46-8-1, 27 KO’s): Dempsey has now tied Paddy Duffy’s record for most PPU title reigns at four, defeating Charles McCoy for the title in May. Fred Morris took the champ to a draw in September, which triggers a mandatory rematch early in 1898.
WELTERWEIGHTS, Tommy Ryan (42-4-2, 34 KO’s): Ryan is now a three-time crown holder, knocking out Dick Sandall in New Orleans in November to win the title back.
LIGHTWEIGHTS, Young Griffo (41-5-2, 13 KO’s): The Aussie great has had no problem adjusting to the lightweight division, making three successful defenses in 1897. He’s already signed on to fight Ryan in a title vs. title bout in early 1898, as Griffo attempts to be the first fighter in PPU history to win titles in three different weight classes.
FEATHERWEIGHTS, Ben Jordan (13-2, 5 KO’s): Defeated Oscar Gardner to win the title for the first time in the Bronx in just his 15th bout this past November.
BANTAMWEIGHTS, Jimmy Barry (21-2, 9 KO’s): Captured the title against Ike Weir in Atlantic City this past March before decision wins over Billy Plimmer and Casper Leon. The win over Leon was a split decision, so he has to face Leon again in his next defense.
FLYWEIGHTS, Jimmy Anthony (21-2-1, 13 KO’s): Defeated Eddie Avery before knocking out Erasmus Keifer* twice (TKO 15, TKO 7) in his first two defenses in his second reign as champion.
TOP 10 POUND FOR POUND
1. Peter Jackson (#1 heavyweight)
2. Bob Fitzsimmons (#2 heavyweight)
3. James J. Corbett (heavyweight champion)
4. Jack Dempsey NP (middleweight champion)
5. Young Griffo (lightweight champion)
6. Jack McAuliffe (#3 lightweight)
7. Tommy Ryan (welterweight champion)
8. Joe Choynski (light heavyweight champion)
9. George Dixon (#1 featherweight)
10. George Lavigne (#1 lightweight)
AWARDS (COTY and POTY now get automatic title shots in the new year)
Fighter Of The Year: James J. Corbett (1st award)
Contender Of The Year: Peter Jackson (1st award as a contender, 8th overall)
Prospect Of The Year: Tom Hyer (#5 heavyweight contender)
Rookie Of The Year: Terry McGovern (6-0 bantamweight)
Another year passes in Professional Prizefighters Union, and the burning question as 1897 looms is a simple one: will anyone dethrone Peter Jackson before he retires?
ROLL CALL OF CHAMPIONS AT THE END OF 1896
HEAVYWEIGHTS, Peter Jackson (39-0-2, 33 KO’s): The champion began to show his age this year, only making two defense. In his most recent defense he faced James J. Corbett a sixth time, with the two fighters trading knockdowns in a 15-round draw. That will trigger an automatic rematch with Corbett in early 1897, with many fight followers wondering if the seventh time could wind up being the charm.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS, Joe Choysnki (36-3, 34 KO’s): After stunning Bob Fitzsimmons to win the Light Heavy title at the start of the year, Choysnki has defended the title against meager competition five times in 1896, all wins coming by way of knockout, four of the five coming within three rounds or less.
MIDDLEWEIGHTS, Charles McCoy (27-3, 23 KO’s): McCoy stopped Jack Dempsey NP (KO-10) to win the middleweight title in May, successfully defending the belt against Charley Johnson (KO-14) with Johnson ahead on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage. McCoy fights Light Heavyweight champ Joe Choysnki in what’s becoming an annual ritual of “title vs. title” bouts as of late.
WELTERWEIGHTS, Joe Walcott (30-1-1, 21 KO’s): Walcott turned back four challenges to his title during the year, all coming by way of stoppages.
LIGHTWEIGHTS, Young Griffo (38-5-2, 11 KO’s): Griffo became the first fighter in PPU history to hold two titles simultaneously in two different weight classes when he beat Bobby Dobbs in January to win the Lightweight title. After vacating the Featherweight belt, he’s since turned back the challenges of Billy Dacey, Arthur Chambers, and Joe Gans to prove he’s not a one-hit wonder after stepping up in class.
FEATHERWEIGHTS, Cal McCarthy (32-6-1, 11 KO’s): McCarthy lost to George Dixon to fill the vacancy in the Featherweight division in February, but Dixon lost the belt to Johnny T. Griffin in his subsequent defense. McCarthy then beat Griffin to win the title a second time in August, and defended the title successfully against Fred Bogan in December.
BANTAMWEIGHTS, Ike Weir (37-8-4, 14 KO’s): Weir defeated Jack Hare to win the Bantamweight crown a second time in a division that saw Hare, Pedlar Palmer, Tommy Kelly, and Chappie Moran all holding the belt at one point or another during the year.
FLYWEIGHTS, Eddie Avery (22-8-4, 12 KO’s): All of Avery’s fights in 1896 were against Walter Croot. He captured the title from Croot in March in a spilt decision, drew in the automatic rematch in July, then won the automatically triggered re-rematch against Croot in November (DQ-11).
POUND FOR POUND TOP 10
1. Peter Jackson (heavyweight champion)
2. Bob Fitzsimmons (#2 heavyweight)
3. Jack McAuliffe (#2 lightweight)
4. Young Griffo (lightweight champion)
5. Jack Dempsey NP (#1 middleweight)
6. James J. Corbett (#1 heavyweight)
7. Joe Walcott (welterweight champion)
8. Tommy Ryan (#1 welterweight)
9. George Dixon (#1 feathweight)
10. Joe Choynski (light heavyweight champion)
Fighter Of The Year: Peter Jackson (7th such award, 4th in a row)
Contenders Of The Year: Bob Fitzsimmons (3rd award)
Prospect Of The Year: Yankee Sullivan (#29 heavyweight contender, 3rd straight award)
Rookie Of The Year: Battling Nelson (6-0 lightweight)
The Professional Prizefighters Union completed its 11th year in 1895, with Peter Jackson still reigning supreme in the heavyweight division.
ROLL CALL OF CHAMPIONS AT THE END OF 1895
HEAVYWEIGHTS, Peter Jackson (38-0-1, 32 KO’s): After turning back the challenge from Bob Fitzsimmons (TKO-7), Jackson went on to stop Peter Maher (KO-13) and decision John L. Sullivan (UD-15) to remain the PPU’s only heavyweight champion in its history.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS, Bob Fitzsimmons (37-4, 33 KO’s): After the loss in March to Peter Jackson, Bob successfully defended the light heavy crown against Jason Whitney (KO-1), Charles Veeck (TKO-4), and Joe Butler (KO-11).
MIDDLEWEIGHTS, Jack Dempsey NP (42-7, 24 KO’s): Dempsey seems to be flourishing with Bob Fitzsimmons moving up in class. The three time champ defeated Jack Burke (TKO-5), Young Mitchell (UD-15), and Charles McCoy (MD-15), with the majority decision triggering a rematch in 1896.
WELTERWEIGHTS, Joe Walcott (26-1-1, 17 KO’s): Walcott defeated Tommy Ryan (SD-15) to win the title a second time, and beat Jim Franey (KO-3) and Dick Case (TKO-8) in defenses during the year. Ryan will be cashing in his rematch clause in Walcott’s first defense in the new year, making for an interesting fight in February.
LIGHTWEIGHTS, Bobby Dobbs (32-4, 16 KO’s): Dobbs made three defenses in 1895, scoring decision wins over Texas Jack Burke and Barney Malone before stopping Frank Erne (TKO-8).
FEATHERWEIGHTS, Young Griffo (34-5-2, 9 KO’s): Griffo stopped Tommy Warren (TKO-14) before a draw against Solly Smith in July. That triggered a mandatory rematch against Smith four months later, scoring a stoppage win (TKO-5). Griffo will fight Bobby Dobbs for his lightweight title to start the year in another battle of champions.
BANTAMWEIGHTS, Chappie Moran (25-10-1): Moran is the champ despite never having scored a stoppage win in 36 fights, defeating Jimmy Barry (UD-15) to win the Bantamweight title a second time.
FLYWEIGHTS, Walter Croot (12-4, 1 KO): Croot vanquished Jimmy Gorman (UD-15) in Cincinnati this past October to win the title, his first run as flyweight titleholder.
Fighter Of The Year: Peter Jackson (6th award, 3rd straight award)
Contender Of The Year: Jack McAuliffe (3rd award, 2nd straight)
Prospect Of The Year: Yankee Sullivan (2nd straight award, #32 contender to the heavyweight crown)
Rookie Of The Year: Young Peter Jackson (5-0 welterweight)
Ten years of action and thousands of fights later, the Professional Prizefighters Union has completed its first decade.
ROLL CALL OF CHAMPIONS AT THE END OF 1894
HEAVYWEIGHTS, Peter Jackson (35-0-1, 30 KO’s): Peter is still the only heavyweight champ the PPU has known. He had a lighter schedule in 1894, but made headline news as the year ended by announcing after defeating John P. Clow that he’s agreed to fight Light Heavyweight champion Bob Fitzsimmons on the neutral soil of the USA in March for his heavyweight title.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS, Bob Fitzsimmons (34-3, 30 KO’s): Fitzsimmons won the title in September over two-time titleholder Joe Choynski, and now wants to prove he’s the best fighter in the world with a match against Peter Jackson. His light heavyweight title will not be at stake, but will have to abdicate that belt if he wins against Jackson.
MIDDLEWEIGHTS, Jack “The Irish Lad” Burke (35-10, 16 KO’s): Burke defeated Jack Bonner for the belt in New Orleans this past December, will have to make a mandatory defense Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey in March, who lost the belt by KO in 7 to Charley Johnson this past June.
WELTERWEIGHTS, Tommy Ryan (30-2-2, 25 KO’s): Ryan’s now won 15 fights in row, including winning the welterweight title a second time and successful in eight straight defenses.
LIGHTWEIGHTS, Bobby Dobbs (29-4, 15 KO’s): Dobbs spilt decisioned George Lavigne to win the belt a second time in June in Providence, and has made two defenses since.
FEATHERWEIGHTS, Young Griffo (32-5-1, 7 KO’s): Griffo kept the belt throughout 1894, making four defenses, only one win coming by way of knockout.
BANTAMWEIGHTS, Jimmy Barry (13-1, 5 KO’s): Defeated Tommy Kelly for the belt in June, and has made two defenses since. His only loss was to journeyman Walt Lafevbre in Barry’s third fight.
FLYWEIGHTS, Jimmy Anthony (10-1-1, 5 KO’s): Won the belt by knocking out Robinson Ramos in Brisbane, drawing with Erasmus Keifer in September before decisioning him in Germany in a rematch in December.
Fighter Of The Year: Peter Jackson (5th award, 2nd in a row)
Contender Of The Year: Jack McAuliffe (2nd award)
Prospect Of The Year: Yankee Sullivan (#33 heavyweight contender)
Rookie Of The Year: Jack Johnson (4-0 as a heavyweight)
The ninth year of PPU action completed with the end of 1893. A lot of changes to report in the champions roll call, as a big name went down to defeat to his main rival in December.
CHAMPIONS ROLL CALL AT THE END OF 1893
HEAVYWEIGHTS, Peter Jackson (31-0-1, 27 KO’s): Peter turned back the fifth challenge from James J, Corbett with another stoppage, and got off the deck twice to defeat John L. Sullivan (KO-14) in a brutal fight in September.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS, Joe Choynski (22-2, 21 KO’s): Defeated Glen Jones to win the light heavyweight belt back a second time in Nebraska in December.
MIDDLEWEIGHTS, Jack Dempsey NP (33-6, 19 KO’s): Defeated Bob Fitzsimmons in their sixth meeting (TKO-6) to win the middleweight crown over in England. Fitzsimmons announced after the fight that he’s moving up to the light heavyweight division.
WELTERWEIGHTS, Tommy Ryan (26-2-2, 22 KO’s): Kept the belt throughout 1893, although Joe Walcott took the champ to a draw recently in Seattle.
LIGHTWEIGHTS, George Lavigne (31-7-1, 19 KO’s): Lavigne won the belt a second time, defeating Jack McAuliffe down in Texas (KO-4) to avenge losing the title to him in Philly two years earlier.
FEATHERWEIGHTS, Young Griffo (28-5-1, 6 KO’s): Griffo’s also a two time titleholder now, besting Dick Hollywood in Australia for the belt, also in December (UD-15).
BANTAMWEIGHTS, Ike Weir (28-5-4, 9 KO’s): Weir’s a first time champ, going over to Italy recently to stop Casper Leon (KO-5) to win the title.
FLYWEIGHTS, Robinson Ramos* (24-13-7, 4 KO’s): The battle tested Ramos became Flyweight champ defeating Sinfronio Unipeg* for the belt in Mexico this past September.
Fighter Of The Year: Peter Jackson (4th such award)
Contender Of The Year: Bob Fitzsimmons (#1 light heavyweight contender, 2nd award)
Prospect Of The Year: Tom Hyer (#10 heavyweight contender)
Rookie Of The Year: Tom Sharkey (6-0 as a heavyweight)
Despite a revamped contenders format used in 1892 that allowed 15 contenders a chance to fight for the crown every year, and the possibility of a champ making four defenses a year, the Professional Prizefighters Union continued to be dominated by the middleweight class.
CHAMPIONS AT THE END OF 1892:
HEAVYWEIGHTS, Peter Jackson (27-0-1, 25 KO’s): Jackson is still the last of the original champions standing. For the fourth straight year, he faced James Corbett for the title, with Jackson avenging his draw in 1891 with a TKO-12 win in 1892.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS, Glen Jones* (26-9-3, 17 KO’s): Knocked out Joe Butler in Philadelphia in December of 1892 to win the belt for the first time.
MIDDLEWEIGHTS, Bob Fitzsimmons (27-2, 23 KO’s): Fitzsimmons has won twelve straight bouts, turning back three Jack Dempsey NP challenges in yearly succession. There’s continued talk of him moving up to Light Heavyweight or Heavyweight from his management team.
WELTERWEIGHTS, Tommy Ryan (23-2-1, 20 KO’s): The welterweight belt keeps bouncing around amongst some skilled pugilists. Ryan’s the champ a second time after beating Joe Walcott in New York recently, handing the “Barbados Demon” his first defeat.
LIGHTWEIGHTS, Jack McAuliffe (29-1, 23 KO’s): After regaining the Lightweight championship in ’91, the Irish champ KO’ed all four of his opponents this year.
FEATHERWEIGHTS, George Dixon (26-5, 13 KO’s): Dixon is the champion a second time after defeating Tommy White (TKO-11) in Indiana to regain the belt in another division with numerous champions.
BANTAMWEIGHTS, Richard Goodwin (27-6-5, 7 KO’s): Goodwin’s first title shot in five years was a successful one, defeating Chappie Moran in a close fight (MD 15) in Missouri in December for his maiden voyage as the Bantamweight king.
FLYWEIGHTS, Clancy Wallace* (23-5-4, 7 KO’s): Wallace only made three defenses this year do a 12-round draw between contenders Raul Cantu and Robinson Ramos in September that would have given a title shot to the winner.
Fighter Of The Year: Bob Fitzsimmons (second FOTY award in a row, his fourth overall)
Contender Of The Year: Jack Dempsey NP (his fifth COTY trophy, second in a row)
Prospect Of The Year: Pat Killen (#14 heavyweight contender, 32-11-1 with 27 KO victories)
Rookie Of The Year: Harry Peppers (6-0 in the middleweight class)
Another year in the books in the PPU, so let’s see who the champions are at the end of 1891, which seemed to be a year dominated by middleweights…
HEAVYWEIGHTS, Peter Jackson (23-0-1, 21 KO’s): Jackson’s still the only heavyweight champ in PPU history, but his reign may be showing signs of ending. James J. Corbett held Jackson to a 15-round majority draw in their third championship meeting in November, and Corbett may be line for a fourth shot in 1892.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS, Luke Keegan (11-11-3, 8 KO’s): Keegan pulled off one of the great upsets in the early history of PPU by knocking out Joe Choynski in July.
MIDDLEWEIGHTS, Bob Fitzsimmons (23-2, 20 KO’s): Promoters are salivating at a possible Fitzsimmons-Jackson dream fight somewhere down the road.
WELTERWEIGHTS, Paddy Duffy (25-3-1, 9 KO’s): Duffy became the first four-time PPU champion in a single weight class when he regained the belt from Charles Kemmic (SD 15) the exact same way he lost the belt one year prior.
LIGHTWEIGHTS, Jack McAuliffe (25-1, 19 KO’s): A year and eight months after being handed his first loss, McAuliffe is back to being the Lightweight kingpin after stopping George Lavigne (KO 6).
FEATHERWEIGHTS, Young Griffo (21-4, 6 KO’s): In 1891, he won three fights by decision; a split decision win over St. John Tommy Kelly, then a majority verdict over Dal Hawkins, and most recently a unanimous win over former champ Cal McCarthy.
BANTAMWEIGHTS, Nunc Wallace (24-3-1, 9 KO’s): Knocked out Tommy Kelly in just two rounds in Detroit in November to become a two-time champ.
FLYWEIGHTS, Clancy Wallace* (20-5-4, 7 KO’s): Also a two-time champ, defeating Raul Cantu* for the crown out in California.
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR: Bob Fitzsimmons (third time he’s won the award)
CONTENDER OF THE YEAR: Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey (4th time he’s won the award, #1 contender, 1-3 vs. Fitzsimmons)
PROSPECT OF THE YEAR: Fred Morris (#6 contender for the middleweight crown)
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Charles McCoy (7-0 in 1891 as a middleweight)
The Professional Prize Fighters Union entered the the decade of the 1890’s, and here’s how the honor roll ended up:
HEAVYWEIGHTS, Peter Jackson (21-0, 19 KO’s): Peter is the last of the originally crowned PPU champs back in 1886 still holding the belt four years later. Only James J. Corbett and Mike Cleary have gone the full 15 rounds with him. Corbett earned the right to a rematch this past November, with Jackson dominating on his way to a TKO-13 win.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS, Joe Choynski (12-0, 11 KO’s): Only Jason Sargent took Joe the distance so far. Defeated Andrew Widdop for the belt in July, and barring an upset, he doesn’t look like he’ll relinquish the title anytime soon.
MIDDLEWIGHTS, Bob Fitzsimmons (20-2, 18 KO’s): The road back to the title had bumps in it, as Young Mitchell scored a TKO-10 win over Bob in July of 1889. Fitzsimmons beat George LaBlanche for the title, and avenged his title defeat in London in November, stopping the “Nonpareil” Jack Dempsey in the 15th round of their third fight. Rumor has it Fitzsimmons may move up to light heavyweights should he drop the middleweight strap again.
WELTERWEIGHTS, Charles Kemmic (18-4-6, 7 KO’s): The third time was the charm for Kemmic, defeating three-time champ Paddy Duffy (SD-15) to capture the title up in Michigan in November.
LIGHTWEIGHTS, Bobby Dobbs (15-0, 8 KO’s): Dobbs handed Jack McAuliffe his first defeat back in March, coming back from being knocked down twice in the 3rd to break Jack’s jaw in the 4th for the TKO win. Wouldn’t be shocked to see these two warriors fighting against each other sometime in 1891.
FEATHERWEIGHTS, Young Griffo (18-4, 6 KO’s): Griffo tried twice to win the belt against George Dixon, losing each time, once in 1888, again in 1889. His third shot came in his native Australia in November against Dick Hollywood, with Griffo surviving a flash knockdown in the 8th to win the fight by knockout in the 10th.
BANTAMWEIGHTS, Tommy Kelly (15-2-1, 11 KO’s): The “Harlem Spider” won the belt in 1889 with a win in West Virginia over Jose Guiterrez, and hasn’t looked back since. Ike Weir got a 15-round draw against him later in ’89, with Kelly avenging the stalemate with a KO-10 win in Indiana in November.
FLYWEIGHTS, Erasmus Kiefer* (15-4-3, 6 KO’s): Raul Cantu took Keifer to back-to-back consecutive draws in 1889, but lost in the Contenders Group in 1890 that would have earned him an eventual rematch. Division in a state of flux with no real talent in it at this time.
Fighter Of The Year: Peter Jackson
Contender Of The Year: Jack McAuliffe (22-1, 18 KO’s)
Prospect Of The Year: George Lavigne (22-5-1, #6 ranked lightweight)
Rookie Of The Year: Joe Walcott (5-0)