Search this blog

Saturday, May 21, 2011

1916-05-19 Harry Wills W-PTS20 Jeff Clark [Louisiana Auditorium, New Orleans, LA, USA]

1916-05-20 The Daily States (New Orleans, LA) (page 7)
Missouri Cinder Manages To Stay Limit By Holding Opponent; Wills Makes Very Poor Fight; Spectators Hiss Negroes For Tame Bout.


Harry Wills, giant New Orleans negro heavyweight, earned the right to meet Sam McVey in a 20-round bout at the Louisiana Auditorium on June 2, by decisively defeating Jeff Clarke, a Missouri cinder Friday night, in a one-sided contest.

The bout was a typical negro affair. It was evident from the outset Clarke's only excuse for entering the ring was to stay the limit. He was outclassed, outweighed and lacked a foot or more in height. By clinching at every opportunity and holding Wills around the waist, he managed to answer the last gong.

From a Queensberry standpoint, the scrap was by far the poorest ever staged at the Carrollton Avenue arena. At times it seemed as though Wills was allowing his opponent to stay twenty rounds. Wills fought very poorly, rarely ever attempting a jab, using his right hand to club Clarke on the back.

The only interesting part of the mill was Wills' superior wrestling tactics. In the ninth round the local negro picked his undersized opponent up and dashed him to the ropes and floor. For a time it looked as though Clarke would land among the spectators. There was such a great difference in strength that Wills could have thrown his opponent out of the arena entirely had he so wished.

Crowd Hisses Fighters; Wills Makes Poor Showing.

The spectators hissed Wills for slamming Clarke to the floor. At times some of the crowd yelled "Fake!" Wills did not fight within fifty per cent of his last bout with Langford. Had he done so the contest would have hardly gone more than three or four rounds.

An amusing incident occurred in the twelfth round. Clarke darted across the ring and slipped down in Wills' corner. He seemed to injure his knee or hip and limped a minute or so. When the bell sounded his second started rubbing the game leg, one of the spectators shouting: "You've got the wrong leg; he hurt the other one."

The only knockdown, and there is considerable doubt as to its legitimacy, occurred in the fourteenth frame. Clarke suddenly sank to the canvas and rested while Referee Fay tolled off seven. Wills seemed to push his opponent to the floor, the spectators snickering at the Missouri negro as he appeared to be in great distress.

Nearly every round was a repetition of the other. Wills would have probably fought had Clarke shown a disposition to trade blows. Clarke, however, preferred to stay twenty rounds and take his percentage of the gate receipts, avoiding as much punishment as possible.

As a negro heavyweight fighter, Clarke doesn't belong in the celebrated Tan League at all. He is a busher pure and simple in comparison to the McVey, Langford, Johnson and Wills combination. Clarke and his manager will do well to make their share of the purse last a long time, for it isn't likely a New Orleans audience will tolerate a repetition of the contest.

Johnny Brown defeated Young Joe Gans in the ten-round semi-final, and the battle royal was awarded to a negro called the Pullman Cinder. The negro orchestra entertained the spectators twice as much as the entire fleet of fighters Matchmaker Tortorich mobilized.

1916-05-20 The New Orleans Item (New Orleans, LA) (page 8)

(By Joe Carter.)

It's not often that a pugilist is handicapped by the smallness of his opponent, but this is just what occurred in the black heavyweight contest at the Louisiana Auditorium Friday night. Harry Wills, local negro, met Jeff Clarke, the "fighting ghost" from Joplin, Mo., in 20 rounds, and made probably his poorest showing since graduating from the preliminary ranks down at the old Northside Athletic Club, although he won the decision.

Clarke is probably a foot shorter than Wills and had little trouble ducking Wills' right leads at the head. The only punch that Wills could have used to reach Clarke's stomach is an uppercut, and this he didn't try because Jeff kept well covered. The visiting pug fought only a defensive fight and when he went into his shell the local negro was unable to land on a vulnerable spot. Whenever Wills started a right cross he found his opponent already in close out of harm's way. Wills realized it was next to impossible to reach his smaller foe's jaw and after the first five rounds was content to wrestle and wait for an opening. Had Clarke been a foot taller whereby the local negro could have measured him off with some accuracy, it is probable that the fight would have ended before the 20 rounds.

Several times during the melee Clarke went to the mat but only twice was he knocked down. Twice he slipped and several times he was wrestled to the canvas. Never once during the fight did he have the least semblance of a chance. He cut loose several wild swings but they all missed their mark by several inches.

Joe Gans wasted a greater portion of his time in the preliminary with Johnny Brown, showing Johnny some of the latest steps in dancing and when the gong sounded which ended the fracas the decision went to his opponent. Gans made a poor fight and is not as good as when he was fighting Leo Johnson and other top notch colored lightweights.

The battle royal furnished plenty of amusement. The other bouts were very ordinary.

1916-05-20 The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA) (page 16)
Local Negro Gets Decision at the End of Twenty Slow Rounds.
Harry Wills was under triple raps Friday night at the Louisiana Auditorium, and that spells the reason why Jeff Clark, the so-called "Fighting Ghost" of Joplin, Mo., went twenty rounds. Of course, Wills got the decision at the end of the slow and uninteresting affair. There was no doubt about it. Nothing but Wills all the way.

Just why the local negro heavyweight refused time and again to follow up advantages when he had the spook on the verge of a knockout is a question which had the majority of those present guessing.

But a little light may be let in. Harry and Jeff--or Mutt and Jeff sounds better after Friday night's fracas--are signed to meet in Pensacola a week or two hence. Twitch! And everything is illuminated.

Wills did not "lay down." Neither did Clark. Wills was a top-heavy favorite to win, and he did win. There could be no room for doubt as to the honesty of his intentions. He intended to win. But at the same time he didn't intend to do any "levelling," because "levelling" might have killed that Pensacola match.

As to the passage of arms in the roped arena, it was "duck, rush and clinch" on Clark's part, and "wait, swing and be-careful-not-to-hit-too-hard" on the part of the big local spade.

Twice Wills knocked the "fighting ghost" down. He was careful not to knock him down again, and refrained from sinking those mighty right uppercuts into Jeff's body after half a dozen rounds. Once or twice Wills threw Jefferson down, while once or twice the Joplin goblin slipped.

It was a very poor fight. Had it not been for the presence of a "brown skin" orchestra, the entertainment at the L. A. Friday night would have fallen flat, as Young Joe Gans and Johnnie Brown gave a miserable demonstration of the Queensbury art. Brown got the decision.

No comments:

Post a Comment