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Saturday, May 21, 2011

1897-05-18 Joe Gans W-PTS20 Mike Leonard [Olympic Athletic Club, Woodward's Pavilion, San Francisco, CA, USA]

1897-05-19 The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA) (page 4)
The Los Angeles Heavy-Weight Wins in Nine Rounds.
Leonard Was in Very Poor Condition, but Lasted the Limit.
A Big Crowd Saw the Olympic Club Entertainment--Lawler Beat Reilly.
Fifteen hundred ringsters crowded into Woodward's Pavilion to see the boxing entertainment of the Olympic Club last evening and sweltered through three more or less interesting bouts.

Two of the six participants were in noticeably bad condition, Mike Leonard being so fat that the hard fight with Joe Gans trained him down at least five pounds during the twenty rounds.

Henry Baker, the Chicago heavy-weight, who was scheduled to go twenty rounds with Jeffries, the Los Angeles giant, had rolls of fat hanging over his belt as he sat in his corner, and he had bellows to mend before the fight had been in progress fifteen minutes.

It is this matter of allowing pugilists to enter the ring in bad condition that puts boxing in bad repute. Every little while some pugilist is killed as a result of undertraining, and then a cry goes up against the brutality of the sport.

Both Leonard and Baker looked as though they had trained on steam beer, and their actions in the ring bore out the supposition that they had. It was rumored before the gong sounded for the first bout that the Leonard-Gans battle was off, because the former could not weigh in at the limit of 133 pounds, but both appeared, and it was announced that Leonard was ill and had refused to weigh in and had forfeited his $100 deposit to Gans.

The colored lad was willing to fight at any weight, and the referee announced that the fight would go on, but that all bets were off.

Jim Reilly and Jim Lawler, two willing local lads, who weighed in at 123 pounds each, put up a hard-hitting battle of ten rounds, Lawler's straight left leads and generally clever work winning him the decision of Referee Phil wand.

Gans in his twenty-round go with Leonard took a strong lead from the start and chased the fat dude of the ring persistently. Leonard got weak after a few rounds and danced about and clinched to avoid punishment. Occasionally he would back up against the ropes and, using them as a spring against his back, lunge at Gans as the Baltimorean came at him, but he inflicted no punishment after the tenth round.

Gans apparently did not like Leonard's style, for he kept away whenever the Beau Brummel of the pugilistic fraternity made a stand against the ropes. His cautious leads and occasional scoring won him the decision, though it was apparent he was almost as weak as his opponent when the gong sounded in the final. Gans was a disappointment to those who saw him knock Charley Rochette out several months ago.

Much interest was manifested when the heavy-weights made their appearance. Henry Baker, the fat boy of Chicago, came first. He looked like a New York Alderman; layers of fat hung over his waistband.

Jeffries was trained to a turn. He looked a magnificent specimen of the athlete. In fact, his opponent, when they stood face to face, appeared as if he had been put into the ring to fill up a gap.

Baker scaled 175 pounds and Jeffries tipped the beam at 201 pounds, which is nine pounds lower than he has ever fought. Baker looked like a pigmy alongside of the California champion.

Baker proved right away that he was a clever man on his feet. After considerable fiddling Baker shot out his left, which landed lightly on "Jeff's" mouth. The latter returned the compliment and then missed Baker's face with a right swing which, had it landed, would have done damage.

Jeffries went bang against the ropes. Considerable clinching was indulged in and as the round closed Baker landed a left and right on Jeffries' mouth.

In the second round Jeffries caught a hard right-hand punch in the left eye which left the imprint. Jeffries ducked cleverly from several swings and in the clinches which followed he was hissed by the gallery because he struck at Baker when both men had one hand free, which was perfectly proper and according to rule.

In the third round Jeffries played for Baker's stomach, but the Chicago man backed away and danced around the ring with the big fellow in hot pursuit. Both men landed, but the blows were not very effective.

In the fourth round Jeffries sent Baker under the ropes with a body blow, but near the end of the round Baker landed a hard right on Jeffries' mouth.

After this round, and until the ninth round, Jeffries scored a strong lead. In the eighth Jeffries knocked Baker down with a left on the jaw and then hammered him all over the ring, but failed to score a knockout. Baker went down twice.

In the ninth round Baker received a left hand smash on the jaw that sent him sprawling over the ropes, and "Spider" Kelly, his second, threw up the sponge.

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