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Friday, January 3, 2014

1916-01-03 Sam Langford L-PTS20 Harry Wills [Tulane Athletic Club, New Orleans, LA, USA]

1916-01-03 The Daily States (New Orleans, LA) (page 11)
Negroes In Good Shape and Promise Fast Bout, Says Promoter Burns

Harry Wills and Sam Langford will enter the ring at the Tulane Club arena Monday night in good condition to furnish the local boxing fans with the first negro heavyweight scrap seen here in several months, according to word forthcoming from the local promoters of the scheduled twenty-round bout.

When the two last met here, the bout only went ten rounds, the decision going to the local negro. This was more than a year ago. Since then the Boston "Tar Baby" dropped Wills for the count in a bout on the coast. In this last scrap Wills floored Langford twice before the Boston negro packed the fatal wallop.

While showing here in but very few bouts, Wills is said to have made a big improvement in the past year. His fight here with Battling Jim Johnson was too one-sided to determine whether or not he has improved to any great extent.

Sport writers from the various sections have boosted Wills and fans will see for themselves just how good he is when he meets the most experienced negro fighter in the game at the Howard street arena.

Langford has been fighting for years during which time he has bested some of the best in the heavyweight division. Of late, Wills seems to be the only fighter in his class to give him trouble. Langford has trained hard for this mill and is looked for to put up his best fight against the local negro. Wills has been made the favorite.

1916-01-03 The New Orleans Item (New Orleans, LA) (page 8)
Wills Has Chance To Show He's Best Of All the Heavies
(By Ham.)

The assertion frequently is made that Harry Wills, either now or in a year from now, will be the world's best fighter--in other words, will stand just where Jack Johnson stood just after he defeated Jeffries.

Joe Woodman, manager of Sam Langford, will not admit that Wills has much of a chance to beat Langford in their 20-round fight Monday night, but he does say that in one more year Wills should beat Langford and the rest of the blacks, and he intimates very strongly that he believes Wills, if properly handled, will develop into a better man than Willard.

They have been saying such things about Wills for more than a year. He hasn't developed as rapidly as was expected of him, but now that Jim Buckley, the man who contributed largely to the making of a near-champion out of Gunboat Smith, has him, the New Orleans negro may show surprising improvement over his last fight here, which was with black Jim Johnson.

This Was a Bad One.

That fight, by the way, left a dark brown taste in the mouths of local fans. Johnson was hog fat and had to stall his way through. It takes two to make a fight and Wills had no chance to show anything that night.

Langford will enter the ring considerably to the fat himself, but Sambo has had three experiences with Wills and the last, which was a boxing session of ten rounds, was so much of a Wills nature that Sambo has taken no chance this time, and is said to have trained harder for this engagement than for any in a long time. Sam probably knows he's sliding, and knows that this tall young copper-shade will get him if he is not very careful.

But Sam knows how to be careful. He hasn't been in the game for nothing all these years, beating some of the best men in the ring. He went down five times before Wills in their Los Angeles fight, but Sam was crafty and Wills wasn't and the result was that Wills took the full count in the fourteenth round.

Black Hope Needed?

Many wise fans fight shy of the black squadron, knowing that a lot of stuff has been pulled in the past year that wouldn't bear close scrutiny. Most of it has been in the 10-round no-decision bouts, however, and Wills and Langford showed in Los Angeles what is likely to happen in a longer fight.

Wills has a chance to stop Langford if he keeps a cool head. If he doesn't Langford will stop him again. Either outcome would not be entirely unexpected.

If Langford is knocked out Joe Woodman will have to start a search for a black hope. The only classy negro of the old brigade left besides Langford is McVea, and he is going. Wills would have no real competition as he is the only young one coming up.

1916-01-04 The Daily States (New Orleans, LA) (page 12)
Negroes Fight Fastest Twenty Rounds Seen In An Orleans Ring In Recent Years--Local Negro Is Now Top of His Race.

Jess Willard, heavyweight champion of the world, is fortunate Harry Wills of New Orleans and Sambo Langford of Boston are negroes. If they were any other color, the celebrated "wild west hero" would be forced to defend his title against either man with a possibility of being bumped off the Queensberry throne.

In earning a twenty-round decision over Langford Monday night at the Howard-street arena, Wills convinced a majority of the big assemblage he is championship material. Langford, too, showed himself a great fighter, for in keeping Wills busy from start to finish, the defeated negro put up a very creditable scrap.

The black men, contrary to the word passed down the line, "who's turn is it?" gave a corking-good crowd a run for its money. It is doubtful if any heavyweight scrap of recent years measured up to it for speed. And as for the blows traded, something more than a wallop is necessary to put Sambo down for the count of ten.

With the possible exception of the twelfth when Sambo tried every trick he knew to ease the dreamland wallop over and had Wills worried, and in the eighteenth, Wills sending the Boston black to his corner partly groggy, there was not the least semblance of a knockdown.

Wills Loses Head When He Is Hurt.

Wills, however, is an improved fighter. He lacks experience to cope with a man of Langford's ability. His biggest fault is the same as when he fought McVey, losing his head when hurt. Langford peppered Wills with slashing rights and lefts to the jaw at different periods and in almost every instance, the native black opened up and narrowly escaped the deciding swing.

For the first ten rounds, and it is doubtful if two middleweights could have gone the same pace as the negroes, Wills, because of his advantage in height and reach, stabbed Langford with a left jab, using his right at times for a cross and hooking it to the wind. Wills showed a variety of punches that if used by Willard or some other fighter, would make him the best touted man in the heavyweight division.

In the second half of the scrap, though a trifle slower, excelled any black bout staged here in the past four years. Langford realized his only chance to earn the decision was by dropping his opponent to the cloth and the Tar Baby began a systematic attack, loafing one round and cutting loose with everything he had in the next.

Wills Shows Respect For Sambo's Left.

Wills continually retreated during the twenty periods and in the closing number hardly tried to land a blow. The local negro was also guilty of an unusual lot of holding, especially in the last half of the mill. Another referee would have probably penalized him for these tactics. It was evident throughout that Wills had a lot of respect for Langford's left, as every time the men locked, Harry tucked Sambo's southpaw lunchhook beneath his arm and held it as tight as if it were in a vise.

Just how much stamina Langford possesses, even though he is supposed to be a "fat old man" who has seen his best days in the ring, isn't difficult to imagine when he assimilated all of Wills' wallops to the midsection and continued to carry the fight to his opponent.

If Sambo is ready for the scrap heap, he surely must have been a great fighter when at his best.

In the preliminary mill, Young Kid Green lost a decision to Eddie Palmer.

According to the announcement made from the ringside, Langford and Wills fought for a $1,000 side bet. The currency posted was in the shape of a check. Tommy Burns handed it over to Wills at the conclusion of the mill.

1916-01-04 The New Orleans Item (New Orleans, LA) (page 8)
Wills Is Another Black Peril to White Heavies

The black squadron has an admiral. Another Jack Johnson has come out of the colored population of Louisiana and boxed himself to the front through the ranks of the Langfords, the Jeannettes and the McVeas--all good ringmen and better than the run of white heavyweights.

One or two of these still may be good enough to win a decision over Harry Wills, but his improvement, as shown in his 20-round victory over Sam Langford Monday night, means eventual command of the situation, and that very soon. He has been beaten by the entire trio of black rivals, but in his last three times out against them he has outboxed McVea in 12 rounds, and outpointed Langford both in ten and in twenty.

Langford has been the best of the negro fighters, Johnson excepted, for a long time, and a decisive victory over him even at this late day is quite enough for the fans of ebony hue in New Orleans and vicinity to rave about.

Will History Repeat?

Such a feat establishes Wills as the best heavyweight in the world, barring Jess Willard, and a little development may soon make him a better man than the white champion.

This comparison may be distasteful to many followers of fighting, but who knows that the time isn't far off when this brown-skinned negro of New Orleans and the giant of Kansas will meet to settle the supremacy of the races just as Jeffries and Johnson did--when the black man won?

It doesn't take a great stretch of the imagination to picture this in the face of ring history that is not seven years old. The then invincible Jeffries retired and bestowed his title on another white man, Tommy Burns, who refereed last night's fight, came along and won it.

How Demands Started.

Burns was a good fighter, but a small man. He would have been a great champion of light heavyweights. Everywhere the fight fans and experts of the game said there lived a better fighter than the champion himself. Eventually Burns agreed to defend his championship against the black man and the black man won.

Then the call for Jeffries to come out of retirement. The title must be restored to the white race. Wasn't Jeffries the real champion, anyway--only in retirement?

Public appeal and the false confidence that has carried nearly all champions to their defeat brought Jeffries out of retirement--but the black man won again. It took a young Lochinvar to come out of the west to restore the title.

Is It the Last?

Jack Johnson's reign was thorn enough in the sides of white men, but it was more odious because of his criminal character. An exile from the United States it was necessary for Willard to meet him in Cuba.

"Well, that's the last. There'll never be another fight between a white man and a negro for the championship," declared the sporting public with great relief from its agony.

Willard declared he would not meet a negro as long as he held the title, and recently when he signed for a championship fight here he demanded that the phrase "any white man" be inserted in the articles.

Let's hope sentiment will always stand as an effective barrier against "mixed fighting." If there should be a return to it for only a few matches there same condition that prevailed when Burns was champion might arise again. Wills probably could beat the Morans and Coffeys, and the fighting world doesn't yet look upon Willard as a great champion.

Wills Sambo's Master.

From the time Wills shot a straight right to Langford's nose in the first round and sent him half-way across the ring until the twentieth round, Wills was master of the situation. There were isolated instances of Langford's superiority, but it would be hard to give the Boston tar baby more than four rounds of the entire twenty.

Though in the early rounds Langford's hitting was the cleaner, and though he carried the fight in the majority of rounds, Wills scored point after point when his shorter opponent was unable to reach him at all. It suited Wills for Langford to carry the battle to him. Inexperience might have led the local negro into many an error had he been compelled to force the fighting.

Sam Can't Put It Over.

Langford had only one effective weapon in his attack, and that was a vicious lightning left hook, which sometimes rocked Wills' head, but more often was dodged or blocked. Wills surprised the ringsiders several times by ducking under this blow, and Langford had trouble measuring it.

The tar baby sacrificed boxing and all else to land a knockout via this punch. He took blow after blow hoping to "get one over." Had he landed half the punches that Wills scored the local negro never could have weathered the 20 rounds.

Wills was content with his boxing, and only now and then traded blow for blow. His long left, which he sometimes used in a sort of corkscrew jab, worried Sambo considerably, but Harry's only drive of any force was his straight right, which would have been more punishing had he not drawn his body from it as he shot it.

There was no lack of speed or action. It was the fastest and best heavyweight fight staged in any New Orleans ring in years.

1916-01-04 The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA) (page 11)
Local Negro Proves Himself Peer of All Fighters of His Color.
After one of the greatest ring contests ever seen in New Orleans, Harry Wills, local negro heavyweight, was awarded the decision over Sam Langford, of Boston, in twenty rounds at the Tulane Athletic Club last night, and thereby established himself as the peer of all negro heavyweights.

Wills earned eleven of the twenty rounds, while Langford could claim but five. And when the final gong sounded the end of what probably was the fastest heavyweight battle ever held in a roped arena, there was not one of the 4000 spectators that packed the arena who was not of the opinion that the verdict of Referee Tommy Burns was a just one.

None was more convinced of Wills' right to the victory than the veteran fighting machine, Langford, who showed as early as the twelfth round that he realized his only chance of winning lay in a knockout. This frank admission on the part of the great little Boston fighter, coming in the form of a throwing off of all intentions of trying to win on points, was well received by the fans, who appreciated that "Short Sam" was acknowledging that he must win by a knockout or lose.

For twelve rounds Langford used every bit of his remarkable boring-in defense to cover him while he attempted to penetrate Wills' guard, with unsatisfactory results. The giant New Orleans negro was Langford's master at the finer points of the game, and the Boston "Tar Baby," whose experience as a ring gladiator extends through nearly fourteen years, made no attempt to evade the issue by hiding the fact that he knew he was being outpointed.


And it was this willingness on Langford's part to toss aside the chance of getting a draw anyhow by slowing up and making Wills lead, which made the struggle one which long will be remembered by those who saw it. Throughout the entire twenty rounds the Boston negro kept after Wills with bull dog tenacity, forcing the fighting as fast after he dropped his guard as when he was picking off Wills' blows coming in.

At the end of the twenty rounds, Langford was beaten, but not disgraced.

There were no knockdowns, but this must not be taken to mean that there were no hard blows landed. There hardly was a second during the whole contest when mighty blows were not being exchanged, in the clinches, which were few and of short duration, as well as out of them. That there were no knockdowns, can be attributed to the fact that both men were in remarkable condition.

Never did Harry Wills fight as he fought last night. Only once during the whole battle did he appear to be facing defeat. This was in the twelfth round, when Langford shook him up considerably with a stinging left hook and a mighty right cross to the jaw, causing Wills' knees to sag.

Outside of that spell, however, the local heavyweight seemed one of the most confident fighters in the world, and though there were other rounds in which he was bested by his stocky antagonist, he always walked to his corner with the bearing of one who was sure of victory.

Seldom missing his punches, Wills pecked away at Langford's guard in the early rounds, sometimes raining ineffective fusillades on Langford's gloves and arms, but at other times beating down the Easterner's defense and peppering Langford's face with left jabs and hooks and right crosses and uppercuts.


While in the clinches and in most of the toe-to-toe bees, Wills held his own in the majority of cases and in some fought the ever-coming Boston negro to a standstill and momentarily checked "Short Sam's" advance.

Langford could have made a better showing if he had cared to wait for Wills to come for him. He could have kept covered for twenty rounds and probably would not have been outpointed so far.

But the Boston negro considered himself champion fighter of the negro heavyweights, and he was out to prove it. He had knocked Wills out once, and he was anxious to show that this victory was no fluke, and though he did not accomplish his end, he at least proved that it was through no fault of his own but solely because in the Wills of last night he met a greatly improved fighter from the Wills he knocked out in fourteen rounds at Los Angeles, and because the Wills of last night proved himself one of the greatest heavyweight fighters the ring has known in recent years.

As has been said, the end of the twelfth round found Langford with a little the worst of things as far as points were concerned, though he had been the aggressor throughout.

At this stage of the game, the Boston "Tar Baby" decided he had waited long enough to begin his real battle.

So he bored in even faster than he did before, only he decided to devote more of his attention to landing blows than to blocking them.

While he did not altogether quit picking off all the dangerous wallops he could, Langford obviously showed that he was out to land a decisive wallop if he had to take a hundred. And right here let it be said that Joe Woodman's veteran battler stopped many a blow with his face during those last eight rounds. His left eye, which had been badly puffed since the early innings, closed altogether in the fourteenth, while his right eye, lips and nose were considerably battered up.

From the thirteenth round on, every move of Langford's was pointed toward one goal--a knockout. His vicious left hooks to the body, and his right and left hooks to the head carried worlds of steam, and once or twice he rocked Wills.

But Wills remained cool and collected, and showed lots of stamina in assimilating Langford's hardest punches, at the same time keeping a volley of left jabs and right crosses in Langford's face as he stepped around and landing many a terrific right swing and uppercut to Langford's kidneys and ribs in the clinches.

So anxious was Langford to turn the tide of battle that as the rounds wore on he became wild, and Wills' advantage stood out in stronger contrast.

Wills enjoyed every physical advantage, being more than a head taller than his opponent, and thereby being able to reach over Langford's shoulder and deal telling blows to Sam's kidneys.

Langford was much faster than when he fought Wills here before, sometimes dancing in like a flash with a left jab to the wind, and with left hooks to the jaw.

Wills weighed about 210 pounds, while Langford scaled in around 190.

The men fought for a side bet of $1000, which was handed to the winner by Tommy Burns after the fight.