History | Jul 04 2019

On This Day: Jack Dempsey savaged Jess Willard to lift the world heavyweight title

On July 4 1919 young Jack Dempsey made a brutal statement against Willard, writes Matt Christie
jack dempsey

1. BEFORE their July 4 1919 showdown, held at the Bay View Park Arena in Toledo, Ohio, world heavyweight champion Jess Willard was extremely confident of victory against young Jack Dempsey.

2. BUT former champion Tommy Burns did not share Willard’s optimism. Six months before the fight he picked Dempsey to beat Willard and advised all his friends to bet on the handsome challenger.

3. FIVE ounce gloves were used inside a 20ft ring. The gargantuan Willard was making only the second defence of his crown since famously toppling four years previously, and believed his 58lb weight advantage would be too much for the 24-year-old challenger.