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103 years ago

Jack Dempsey vs Billy Miske

Jack Dempsey vs Billy Miske

Date: 6th September 1920

Venue: Floyd Fitzsimmons Arena, Benton Harbor, Michigan

Title: World Heavyweight Title

Promoter: Floyd Fitzsimmons

Jack Dempsey
( 52 - 4 - 9 )
Weight: 188 lbs

Billy Miske
( 51 - 11 - 17 )
Weight: 187 lbs


On the 6th of September 1920, the Floyd Fitzsimmons Arena in Benton Harbor, Michigan, hosted the World Heavyweight title match between the reigning champion Jack Dempsey and the formidable Billy Miske. The bout, which was the first ever to be broadcast on radio, marked the third time the pair had met inside the squared circle. The event, orchestrated by promoter Tex Rickard, marked Dempsey's first title defense since he seized the championship in 1919 from Jess Willard.

Dempsey, carrying a commendable record of 52 wins, 4 losses, and 9 draws, and weighing in at 188 lbs, was the slight favorite over Miske, who weighed a pound less and had a record of 24 wins, 5 losses, and 2 draws. The attendance was reported to be 11,346, generating total receipts of $134,904, 50% of which was allotted to Dempsey and 25% to Miske as agreed by the promoter.

Miske, hailing from Saint Paul, Minnesota, entered the ring 7-3-2 since his previous fight with Dempsey in 1918. Although he was suffering from Bright's disease, an inflammation of the kidney's structures that produce urine, he showed remarkable determination to stand toe to toe with Dempsey. In his biography, Dempsey would later reflect on the fight, stating, "During the fight, I began to feel that Billy wasn't giving me as tough a battle as I had expected. He did not seem like his old self."

The fight, refereed by Jack Dougherty, was a testament to the fortitude of both fighters. Miske was floored in the second round for a count of five, reportedly the first knockdown of his career. Despite this setback, he got up and continued to fight valiantly. In the third round, however, a powerful right punch to the chin from Dempsey floored Miske for a count of nine. Another decisive punch from Dempsey knocked Miske out at 1:13 in the third round, marking the only time in over 100 bouts that Miske was knocked out.

Former heavyweight champion Jim Corbett would later comment on the 1920 Dempsey-Miske bout in a 1926 newspaper article, stating, "Before Billy Miske was taken sick—back in the days when Billy really was good—he was a fast, clever man. And he went the distance twice with Dempsey. When Bill had slipped and had lost his speed, Dempsey fought him the third time—and knocked him out. But Jack wasn't fighting a fast, clever man that day."




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