How Gunboat Smith Lost to the Frenchman.
How Gunboat Smith Lost to the Frenchman.
Gunboat Smith broke the rules of boxing by striking Carpentier while the Frenchman was on the ground, and for that breach of a written law was disqualified in the sixth round of the contest at Olympia, London, on Thursday, night, for the white heavy-weight championship of the world.
That the referee was caught napping was the opinion of most of those who saw all that happened. The man who should have been disqualified was Carpentier, who automatically lost his right to the verdict by the action of his seconds in jumping into the ring. Mr. Corri is reported to have admitted this on the following day at the meeting at which the purse and stake money was paid over. "I am perfectly certain that Smith no more meant to commit a deliberate foul than the man in the moon," said Mr. Corri to an interviewer. "The punch was not a very hard one, to my thinking. I should have disqualified Carpentier if I had seen Descamps enter the ring before I gave my decision on the foul. I did not know he was in the ring till afterwards."
At all times disqualification is a provoking and unsatisfactory ending to a contest, and it was especially so in this instance. Had the blow which brought the dire penalty to Smith been the deliberate act of a man who, knowing himself to be beaten, and choosing the coward's path, had struck a foul blow with the object of being ruled out by the referee, rather than take his defeat like a man, one would have nothing but reprobation for Gunboat Smith. Instead, one can genuinely sympathize with him in the misfortune which brought down upon him the severest penalty of boxing law.
Accounts of the fateful sixth round vary somewhat in detail prior to the last blow of all, because things happened so quickly that even the eyes of some of those who were only a foot or so away failed to follow and record the full sequence. From where I sat at the opposite side of the ring Carpentier appeared to lose his balance and fall on hands and knees, after missing with a swinging blow that was meant to end the contest there and then; and before Smith, who had his blow "going," could check his arm completely his glove fell lightly on the back of Carpentier's head and glanced off. Mr. Corri looked for a moment at both men, and then his gestures seemed to indicate that he desired the men to continue. But before this Descamps, Carpentier's manager, was in the ring, gesticulating and claiming "Foul," and after a few seconds of pandemonium Mr. Corri motioned the men to their corners, and the M.C. announced that Smith was disqualified.
Was It Clever Make-Believe?
Some Pressmen and spectators on the other side of the ring--but not all--had the same impression of events as I had, but others state that as Carpentier missed with his swing he was caught with a right to the point which certainly dazed him, even if it was not of sufficient force to prevent him from rising within the allotted ten seconds. Smith himself, in his account in the dressing-room afterwards, confirms the statement that he "caught" his opponent, and immediately started another blow with which to make sure. He tried to check this, but, slightly off his balance, failed to control his arm, and his glove landed lightly on Carpentier's head or neck. He had not lost control of himself; he was perfectly cool and collected, and well aware of all that he was doing. Although he was being outpointed at the time he was strong and unhurt, and confident that he would have won before the end of twenty rounds.
In support of Smith's assertion that Carpentier was all but knocked out, the French people said he was dazed for quite a long time after reaching his dressing-room. If that was so it must have been because "Gunboat" had "caught" him just before he dropped to his knees, for it is as certain as such a thing can be that he was not hurt by the feather-like touch that was adjudged a foul blow. Carpentier, however, has denied the statement that Smith had caught him.
Up to the point when the contest ended things had been going largely the way of the French youth, who, boxing on lines quite different from those employed when he beat Wells, was extremely cautious and careful. It was a slow fight, because Carpentier made it so. There was nothing of the dashing method and smiling confidence he has accustomed us to. He was constantly changing, however. He would stand up on his toes as if preparing to attack; he would change his feet or stand back for a second with hands down; he would crouch down almost to the level of his knees. But everything was done with great deliberation and methodically until the right moment came, and then he sprang into activity, and like a flash come a left or a right that found its mark much oftener than it missed. This success, however, did not come until after the first round, of which Smith had the best of matters, mainly with good solid punches to the body.
It was in the second round that Carpentier showed his superiority as a boxer and crafty tactician, for, making openings cleverly, and at his own good time, he would suddenly flash a left flush to nose and mouth, or send over a right that only just failed because of Smith's swift duck. Carpentier also showed himself a clever in-fighter in the many opportunities which each had for this phase of the game, and he has obviously profited by his contests with the many American in-fighting "specialists" that he has met in the past couple of years or so. Still, though he had a good deal the best of the second round, he was not much ahead of the Gunboat in the third, in which few direct blows were struck.
Fallibility of Human "Clocking."
The fourth round was, however, an eventful one. Carpentier was the first to leap in with a hard left to the face, but in the clinch that followed Smith drove three hurtful rights to the body, and although, in another clinch, he was severely uppercut three or four times to the chin, the American again got home hard on the body, this time with both hands. Smith had made several attempts to land his right to the head, but all of them were "telegraphed" in advance, and Carpentier had little difficulty in ducking or stopping back from them. Hereabouts Smith tried another, which Carpentier just got out of the way of, and then brought his own right downward on Smith's chin, and the American, went to the boards.
Thousands of those who filled the vast hall thought the Gunboat had been knocked out, but, though slightly dazed, he was far from losing consciousness. He could have risen quite easily within five or six seconds, but, obeying orders, and watching the referee counting over him, he got up just in time. Just in time that is, according to the referee's measured count, though as an actual fact he was down for thirteen seconds, measured by three watches. The sound of the gong was taken by spectators as the signal that Smith was out, but Mr. Corri thought it notified the end of the round only, and signaled the men to their corners in readiness for the fifth.
In the fifth round Smith had his chin well tucked away out of danger, but still left himself dangerously open when he tried to swing the right home to the head, and brought a shout of warning from his corner. Carpentier also missed with his right, and, though he got his left well home, he had to take a left to the body and a right to the face, while just before the gong sounded Smith at last got his right home dangerously. It landed just a bit too high to effect its purpose, however, and in a clinch that followed the Gunboat was uppercut with the right.
It is unlikely that Smith and Carpentier will meet again, yet awhile, at any rate. The Gunboat and Mr. "Jim" Buckley would welcome the opportunity, and Dick Burge is ready to provide it, for his representative at Friday's meeting offered another big purse if the Frenchman would agree to another contest. Descamps, however, said he already had a match in hand for Carpentier--meaning, of course, the one with Young Ahearn in a few weeks' time at Stamford Bridge--and after that he had promised to give Wells another chance. Should he beat the Bombardier a third time, then Smith would be given his opportunity--in England, France, or America, wherever the greatest inducement was held out.
That a second meeting between Smith and Carpentier is needed to settle the question of supremacy is certain. There was nothing really conclusive about Thursday's. Carpentier, as a boxer, very often made the American look very simple stuff, it is true, and had the contest gone the full distance a verdict for the French youth would have been the only one expected. Yet there always existed the possibility that Smith would win by a short cut, for he learnt a lesson in that fourth round that he meant to bear in mind. On returning to his corner his manager remarked. "He got ye then, Gunner." "Yes, he got me; but he won't get me again," was the quick retort, and it is certain that until the end Carpentier was given no similar opening.