History | Jul 25 2019

On This Day: James J Jeffries emerges from almost certain defeat to knock out Bob Fitzsimmons in their rematch

Matt Christie tells the story of a sequel that proved the quality of both James J Jeffries and Bob Fitzsimmons on July 25 1902
James J Jeffries and Bob Fitzsimmons shake hands before battle

1. BEFORE challenging world heavyweight champion, Bob Fitzsimmons, in 1899, James J Jeffries placed a $5,000 bet against himself. He had no intention of losing but should the worst happen he would need the money. If he won, his stake was cash he could afford to lose. Jeffries hammered ol’ Bob into 11th round submission, but the fight was competitive enough to warrant a return.

2. IT was a fight both parties wanted to happen sooner but, not unlike today, there were accusations of the other running scared as they squabbled over the contracts. It was eventually set for July 25 1902, in San Francisco, with 39-year-old Fitzsimmons giving away 13 years to his fresher rival. Some even suggested that Bob was as old as 47, but the balding boxer insisted he had been born in Cornwall, in 1862.

3. FITZSIMMONS had spent a long time in training, longer in fact than Jeffries. But Jeffries, who had defended five times, and won a non-title fight, since he beat Fitzsimmons, had trained to the “notch of perfection” according to trainer Billy Delanay.


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