Search this blog

Thursday, March 31, 2011

1916-03-31 Benny Leonard ND10 Freddie Welsh [Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, USA]

1916-04-01 New-York Tribune (New York, NY) (page 14)
Leonard Whips Welsh in Whirlwind Battle
All But Knocks Out the World's Champion Lightweight.
Crowd Equal in Size to Moran-Willard Gathering Sees the Contest.


Bennie Leonard, Harlem's favorite son, knocked everything but the lightweight title out of Freddie Welsh at Madison Square Garden last night. Compared to Leonard, the man from across the sea looked like a novice. The little Harlem Hebrew outfought and outboxed the champion in every round. And Welsh tried, too--tried as he has not tried for years.

It was probably the best fight that Welsh has put up in a long while. He wanted to "show Leonard up," but instead he was shown up himself, as a champion about to pass.

Leonard had the fire of youth, in addition to a knowledge of boxing more brilliant than that of any lightweight since Gans. Ring generalship was the only thing that saved Welsh from a knockout and the loss of his title.

The proof that Welsh tried was a cut over Leonard's eye, the first visible injury he has received in over 250 fights. In return Leonard started the blood from Welsh's nose in the fifth, and in the eighth he cut a gash over the champion's eye.

It was one of the fastest and most spectacular battles ever seen at the Garden, and decidedly the cleverest. Welsh put up a game and aggressive fight. If he had battled that way before last night he would have been the most popular of the lightweights. In addition, the veteran used every trick of blocking and holding, but the clear-eyed Jewish boy found openings, and landed with precision.

It was Welsh, the old fox, the veteran, who missed. When the champion tried to mix it Leonard ducked and had him looking like a novice. The crowd was half delirious as the pair flashed around the ring like a couple of lithe young panthers. Not since the days of the very great ones has there been such a battle.

When he found himself outpointed in the first few rounds Welsh grinned sarcastically; but later his mouth dropped with worry. Once or twice he showed flashes of real anger, but Leonard subdued him with tantalizing jabs and right uppercuts.

Toward the end Welsh's face was gray with anxiety. In the seventh round the champion was visibly in a bad way. Leonard shot a left to the body and Welsh bent over. His face twitched with pain.

The champion's worry increased when he saw that the younger man was watching for a chance to land the knockout. Leonard had ceased to jab. He flitted about peering through his narrowed eyes for the chance to send home the blow that would bring him the championship.

It was then that experience came to Welsh's aid. He covered up well. He built for his body a defence like that of the turtle, making a shell of his arms.

In the eighth round Welsh took a desperate chance and swung to the head with his left. The blow should have dazed the Jewish lad, but it did not.

Welsh's face had become tragic. It was the one fight he wanted to win, and he had no chance. The yells of the crowd told him that the "king of lightweights" was very dead in popular favor. They also hailed Leonard as the king to be.

If the fight had gone longer, or if there had been a decision, Welsh certainly would have lost his title. And he would have lost it to a better man than he has ever been.

For this Harlem Jewish boy has everything--the knowledge of boxing, the punch and the courage. Also, and most important, he has the fire and enthusiasm of the comer.

In the first preliminary Terry Edwards resigned his position as antagonist to George Brown in the third round. Brown jabbed Edwards into a state of bewilderment with his left. In the second bout Joe Smith outpointed the Corona Kid, a pocket edition of Jim Flynn. Larry Murtha, a little black Irishman with a fine left hand, outpointed Charlie Treybull, of Chicago, in four rounds.

In the semi-final event Johnnie Drummie, the Jersey Humming Bird, outpointed Kid Boonton in six rounds. Drummie was seconded by Joe Shugrue, who was clad in a wallpaper shirt that made even Billy Roche's official coat-of-mail look subdued.

The crowd began to gather early and filled all but the far section of the first balcony. Numerically it was equal to the crowd that saw the Willard-Moran bout.

Leonard entered the ring first, attended by Billy Gibson, his manager, and his fighting brother, Charlie. Harlem's favorite son wore a snow-white sweater and a smile of serene confidence.

There was a little delay and the crowd began to kick up the dirt of the Garden. The floor had been removed and the air was full of dry dust. The crowd became impatient as Welsh lingered in his dressing room, resting and picking up weight. It always was part of Welsh's ring strategy to take his time coming into the ring.

The Welsh procession finally entered the ring late. The great tangoist and vegetarian was closely followed by 'Andsome 'Arry Pollok. The band struck up "It's a Long Way to Tipperary." Welsh looked very fit. He had worked for this bout. The weights were announced as Welsh 136½ and Leonard 132. Bennie got the louder cheer and Freddie looked a bit peeved. A moment later the fun began.

1916-04-01 The Evening Telegram (New York, NY) (page 8)
"Freddie" Welsh's world's championship lightweight title had everything but wings attached to it last night in Madison Square Garden, and in all probability had it not been for "Benny" Leonard's right hand giving way through injury as the result of the tremendous cannonading he shot the Englishman's way the crown would be resting on the brow of the sensational Harlem lightweight, if such a thing were possible.

In some quarters it is argued that Welsh cannot lose his title when he fights at a poundage over the lightweight limit, but it is a certainty that if he will get to Leonard's weight, or even that of the scale adopted by the State Athletic Commission, the champion would not know whether he was coming or going at the end of ten rounds.

As it was, with Leonard giving away four and a half pounds, he scaled 132, and administered quite the tidiest beating to the title holder that worthy probably ever received. Leonard was the winner all the way, garnering the honors in the first eight rounds and the tenth, with the ninth an even affair, which constituted Welsh's best showing.

Ably assisted by the referee, Welsh was enabled to "save up" times out of number with this phase of the proceedings and Leonard's injury the factors which warranted him in staying the journey.

In the majority of his bouts hereabouts Welsh's long suit has been his ability to outbox, if not outfight, his opponents, and this, coupled with his ring generalship and covering up tactics, has abled him in keeping his death grip on the title. Not so last night, however. Then he met a man who clearly outboxed, outfeinted and outhit him, with the manner of his superiority so pronounced in every department of the game except hanging on, that it appeared as though Welsh had parted with all of his boasted cleverness, hitting ability and stamina in the ring the night he fought "Frankie" Whitney.

It was at that bout that Leonard got his first peep at Welsh, and that he must have "got an eye full" of the right method to attend to a champion was shown when he met him in the ring, as if there was anything the Harlemite didn't do to his opponent, it was only his failure to give him his quietus.

Leonard had all the appearance of being the champion and Welsh the veriest tyro. The Harlemite was the stake horse of the pair, with Welsh an also ran. From the fifth round on Leonard showed by his impatience to be up and doing at the bell announcing the continuance of hostilities that he was like a sprinter leaving his mark, so speedily did he bound across the ring almost to Welsh's corner to meet him.

While he won several of the sessions by the proverbial mile, it was in the seventh that he nearly caused the portcullis to be dropped by the champion. Leonard parted with everything he had in stock and had his man woozy from his continued attack. Welsh never lost his head, however, and although beaten almost to a whisper he managed to dodge out of trouble and weather the storm.

Throughout most of the battle Leonard found his man a mark for left jabs which the champion's science was unable to throw off. With these in many instances followed up with nicely timed rights to the head or body he had Welsh tied up in knots and in many cases unable to do anything but take everything that came his way.

1916-04-01 The New York Times (New York, NY) (page 10)
Vim and Aggressiveness of Harlem Lightweight Too Much for the Champion.

Benny Leonard, the aggressive little Harlem boxer, took his place in the front rank of the world's lightweights at Madison Square Garden last night when he defeated Freddie Welsh of England, the title holder, in a rattling fast ten-round bout which kept the big, crowded arena in an uproar from start to finish. Leonard was the aggressor all the way, and the boxing skill of the phantom-like Briton was overshadowed by the persistent, ready-punching power of the younger boy.

The generalship and experience of the champion saved him from bad punishment, for many of Leonard's short-choppy jolts were cleverly blocked when they were directed to the point of Welsh's jaw. It was a case of a youth charged with fight from his toes to his head pitted against a veteran ring master whose long sojourn in the ring is counting against him--for the old-time skill of Welsh is plainly on the wane.

Leonard carried the fight to the champion from the first round, and there was no time during the bout when Welsh was able to measure up to the aggressive fistic campaign which Leonard waged against him.

There were more than 9,000 men and women in the Garden last night, and they showed more enthusiasm in one round than was demonstrated during the whole ten rounds of the Willard-Moran engagement. It was the largest gathering that has witnessed a lightweight bout here since the Frawley law went into effect. The house was with Leonard, although at times the most partial Leonard enthusiast could not help cheering the masterly defense of the agile, foxy Welsh.

In the crowd were many of New York's best known citizens, and a large number of women occupied seats in the arena boxes. It was a good bout to watch, as it teemed with action all the time, and there was hardly a moment when young Leonard was not carrying the fray to the champion, trying to make him mix it up, when it was plain that Welsh had no such desire.

For a boxer so new to the game, Leonard's showing was remarkable. He was as cool as an old-timer, and not once did he lose his head or get wild. His smashing right-hand punch, on which he relied to batter down the champion, did not get in its most effective work, as the defense of Welsh was so good that the power behind the blow was usually smothered.

When the bout was over Welsh's face showed plainly that the youthful Harlem boxer's blows had hurt. The champion's left eye was cut and his nose was swollen and bleeding. While Welsh used every trick in the game to protect himself from Leonard's fast attack, the shower of blows came so fast at times that his defense was battered down and he had to take a punching in spite of all his cleverness.

Leonard was the first to appear in the ring, and he got a reception which made the big amphitheater resound. Welsh kept him waiting for several minutes, but if the champion imagined that Leonard would get nervous he was much mistaken, as the latter was the cooler of the two men when the gong started the first round.

As quick as a flash Leonard put three light jabs on Welsh's face and surprised him. Welsh kept backing away and covered himself effectively, but Benny got in an occasional smash which set the crowd cheering. When the first round was over and it was seen that Benny had a safe margin the hosts from Harlem stood on their chairs and threw their hats into the air in glee.

In the third round just before the bell Welsh endeavored to force the boxing and drove Leonard to the ropes. Leonard fought his way out and drove the champion back into the centre of the ring under a shower of punches.

In the fourth round, when Welsh began to dance out of the way, he found out that Leonard could step even faster. Leading with his left to the face, Leonard followed up this lead with an occasional right hand jolt to the face which made the champion blink. In this session Leonard planted one right to Welsh's jaw which rocked his head and his smile became somewhat forced. Many of Benny's blows bounced off Welsh's gloves, but although the champion was effective at blocking, he failed throughout to take the upper hand and carry the fighting to Leonard.

In the fifth a quick left stab flattened itself on Freddie's generously proportioned nose and drew first blood. Leonard's hands worked in and out with great rapidity, and Welsh found it a hopeless task to try to stop all the blows. In the later rounds of the bout, Welsh began to practice the best of his ring tricks, but he found himself tired and made little impression on the energetic youth from Harlem.

The sixth round found Welsh tired, and the youth and stamina of Leonard began to take effect. Welsh, with head down, came at Leonard with a rush, but a stiff uppercut brought the English boxer's head back with a jerk. Welsh didn't bore in head first after that.

After the seventh round Welsh often ran into clinches and covered up to protect himself. At infighting Benny ripped uppercuts through Welsh's guard and landed on his body and face frequently. It was only occasionally that Welsh's quick left jab, which in the past has worked like a piston against the faces of his opponents, landed on Benny's face. When Welsh was trying to cover up in the eighth round Leonard rushed at him and sent his head back with rights and lefts which made the champion think that Leonard had called several extra mitts into action.

A smashing glancing left hook to the face opened a cut under Welsh's left eye in the ninth, while the only mark on Leonard was a slight scratch at the side of his left eye. The last two rounds showed Leonard's decided advantage, for he ripped his blows against the champion's body and head with great apparent ease. It was Leonard's bout from bell to bell.

1916-04-01 The Sun (New York, NY) (page 10)
Benny Leonard Outpoints Freddie Welsh in Fast Bout at Garden
Lightweight Champion Outpointed in Nearly Every Round of Garden Bout.
Benny Leonard is not yet lightweight champion, but he came near winning the title last night at Madison Square Garden. He outpointed Freddie Welsh, the Englishman who defeated Willie Ritchie for the world's honors of this particular class.

It was a thrilling ten round battle, one of the best engagements of this or any season, and Welsh has no reason to feel disgraced at his showing. He met a man cool, crafty and clever. The Britisher fought every minute of the way, but his stiffening sinews had to give way to the vigor and dash of youth. But for the cool and calculating cunning of the veteran, Leonard would have grasped the title without further ado. Several times Benny had Sir Frederick in distress, well spent of the speed and fury. But always on such occasions the Englishman called into play his great generalship, which he had learned in the school of tough experience.

What the result would have been had there been no limit to the length of the encounter is a matter open to speculation. Welsh was far from spent at the final bell. In the last round he steamed up to the highest pitch, trying for one redeeming punch, and he did hit Leonard hard, too. But of the two Leonard was the fresher.

Experts who saw the bout said Leonard will be the next lightweight champion if nothing happens to him. They added that last night's fight should prove an experience almost as valuable as all his other 250 odd ring battles combined.

Welsh called into play every trick and strategy of his fertile brain. At close quarters, especially, he took advantage of the youth's innocence. He elbowed, shouldered and butted Benny, but always so cunningly that the referee didn't catch him at it.

Welsh was a dancing master, but he fought as courageously as the challenger. He was a marvel at defence, but the phenomenal speed of Leonard broke down this defence. Benny shifted about and opened his batteries from so many directions that Freddie soon decided to make a give and take affair of it.

It was a hammer and tongs affair during the early rounds. But from the third on Leonard began to draw away, first a shade at a time and then in spurts until in the seventh Welsh's only hope of victory lay in a knockout.

Until the seventh Welsh's blocking was a thing of beauty. Then the local lad rushed in and ripped Freddie's body with a dozen well placed lefts and rights and had the champion leg weary and blown when the gong clanged.

Rally after rally marked the second round, with little damage to either party. Starting the third, Welsh rocked Benny with a wicked right. He repeated the blow a few seconds later, but Leonard retaliated with a good left hook flush on the jaw and half a dozen snappy straight lefts, on which there was no comeback.

The fourth was Leonard's all the way. He tried a score of times to measure Freddie for the right and did land several times, but for the most part the Englishman would spill his man before he could wing the right home. Welsh also got inside the right a lot. But several times this good right did whistle home with effect, once flush on the jaw and again to the face, and wiped out many times the several left jabs that Welsh got to the mark.

The fifth was Welsh's best round. Time after time he bored in recklessly, raining lefts and rights to Benny's head and body. He popped Leonard's head to one side with a left hook and in a rally just before the gong cut Benny's left eye badly.

In the sixth Welsh contented himself with playing for the body with his left. Leonard continued to stab with the left as he walked around the Britisher and played the right to the body in well meant uppercuts.

Through the eighth and ninth rounds Leonard continued to play for the body with his left, snapping it home to the stomach a dozen times or more. A right gashed Welsh's right eye in the eighth, for Benny kept playing for the jaw with the good mauler. The tenth was one continuous rally that fairly raised the roof, with honors even for this closing session.

Leonard was the first to enter the ring. When he appeared promptly at 10 o'clock in long trousers and white sweater his loyal band of rooters fairly raised the roof with applause.

Welsh left little Benjamin in the ring all alone for nearly ten minutes. After clambering into the ring the champion strolled nonchalantly to Leonard's corner and wished Benny a happy evening. Welsh weighed 136½ pounds and Leonard 132 stripped ringwise.

A tremendous throng turned out early for the mill. The crowd cluttered the main entrances on Madison avenue and littered the side streets, but there was no evident disorder anywhere. Police were on hand in sufficient numbers to keep the fans in check at all times. The historic Garden was jammed to the roof. Every seat was sold an hour before the battle. There wasn't as much class to last night's crowd as that which turned out to see the Willard-Moran bout, but there was more enthusiasm. The "regulars" who had to sit in the galleries last week were back in their accustomed places in the pit.

The throng sat contentedly through the semi-finals and most of the preliminaries whetting their appetites for the main event. No ringside betting was in evidence. But in the sporting places about town early in the evening Leonard was quoted on the long ends of the odds. This doubtless was due to Leonard's wonderful following. He has absorbed all of Leach Cross's hero worshippers since the battling dentist took the count from the sturdy right of Milburn Saylor.

Corona Kid and Kid Smith in the four round curtain raiser boxed a creditable draw. Larry Murtha of the West Side outpointed Walter Traybull of Chicago in four rounds.

In the six round semi-final Johnny Drummie shaded Paul Freda, formerly known as Kid Boonton.

No comments:

Post a Comment