Mayweather Rousey, More Similar Than Either Will Ever Admit

Prior to losing to Holly Holm at UFC 193, Ronda Rousey was a seemingly undefeated champion who would never get a fight with her biggest rival, recently retired undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Rousey and Mayweather had both be engaged in a verbal feud, that begin more than a year ago, when Mayweather answered in an interview that he had never heard of Rousey. Mayweather’s comment seemed meaningless at the time, because it is entirely possible that the boxer may not have heard of Rousey.

However, the comment offended Rousey, who after hearing Mayweather’s immediately lashed back at the boxing champion.  The two athletes battled back and forth, with Rousey taking every opportunity to mention Mayweather’s history of violence. The argument between the two continued to play out in the public as Rousey took a shot at Mayweather at the ESPYs. Mayweather threw a verbal counter punch at Rousey, saying that he would like to see her make as much money as him and sell as many pay-per views. Rousey quickly responded by saying she makes more money per second than Mayweather does.

As much as these two people appear to dislike each other, they could not be more similar. From their sizes, Olympic medals and family, the similarities between the two, are reminiscent to the romantic comedy where the man and women refuse to admit how similar they are until they finally hook up in the last 30 minutes of the movie.

Rousey was born into a judo family. Her mother AnnMaria De Mars was the first American women to win a gold medal at the World Championships. Mayweather was born a decade earlier into a family of boxers. Mayweather’s father and two of his uncles both had careers as boxer and later trainers. At a young age Rousey and Mayweather both started training in their family’s respective sport. Both Rousey and Mayweather received training from their parents, as Rousey trained with her mother and Mayweather trained with his father. Mayweather would also be trained by his Uncle Roger, following his father’s incarceration from 1992 until 1998.  For Rousey it was much harder to deal with the loss of her father. When she was just eight years old, Rousey’s father committed suicide upon learning that he would eventually become a paraplegic following a sleighing accident.

Rousey and Mayweather continued to rise through the amateur rankings, both qualifying for the Olympics as teenagers. At 19, Mayweather qualified for the Atlanta Olympics controversially winning a bronze medal, after he lost a questionable decision in the semi-finals. While training for the Olympics, teammates gave Mayweather his first nickname of “pretty boy” for his exception defensive style that kept his face from being seriously damaged. Rousey first qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics, and then again in 2008’s Beijing Olympics, where she like Mayweather would come home with a bronze medal.

Mayweather started his professional career in the October following the Atlanta Olympics. Within the first 20 months of turning professional Mayweather won his first 17 fights, with 13 knockouts before receiving his first title shot.

Rousey earned her first title fight after winning her first four fights by submitting her opponents with an arm bar within 50 seconds of the fight starting. Rousey claimed her first title at 25, submitting rival Miesha Tate with an arm bar in the final minute of the first round. Rousey would defend her title for seven consecutive fights, winning all by submission or knockout, with only one fight advancing past the first round.

Mayweather would win his first of four lineal titles at 22, stopping Genaro Hernandez in the 8th round to win the lineal super featherweight title. For the next 17 years, Mayweather emerged as the sport’s biggest pay-per view. Inside the ring, there many have never been a better defensive fighter, who excelled in not getting hit and responding with quick counter punches. In the late stages of Mayweather’s career, he was able to win easy decision after decision, as his opponents routinely had their lowest punch connection of their career. When Mayweather retired, he had 49 victories and zero defeats, winning the lineal title in four weight classes.

As Rousey emerged as the UFC’s biggest pay-per view star, it’s hard not to compare the outgoing personas that she and Mayweather used to sell themselves as the bad guy in order to sell their opponents as credible foes with the chance of beating them.

Prior to fighting Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather left his previous promoter and emerged with a new persona and nickname. Gone was the “pretty boy,” title that Mayweather had used since the Olympics. Mayweather began introducing the world to Floyd “money” Mayweather, a brash cocky and confident fighter, whose only concerns were money, winning and showing everyone how much money he had. Mayweather would enter the ring against De La Hoya, wearing the colours of the Mexican flag and sporting a sombrero. Mayweather had successfully turned heel and people were willing to pay in the hopes of seeing someone beat Mayweather.

Mayweather would tone his approach down slightly for his next 11 fights, but the fight was already lit by the media who did the promotions for him. After taking a 21 month retirement, Mayweather returned, replaced by Manny Pacquiao as the sport’s biggest star.

For five years, the media was wet at the mouth for a fight between the two men. But for five years, the two men would not fight, as neither side could agree on the purse split, drug testing and location. Mayweather took most of the media’s blame for the fight continually falling through as the media painted the picture of Mayweather being scared and ducking Pacquiao. The five years of media attention helped make Mayweather’s star even bigger as the sport’s biggest bad guy.

During the prime of his career, Mayweather was sentenced to serve an 87 day jail term for domestic violence. Feminist media members continued to talk about Mayweather. The media continued criticizing him for the domestically violence history and questioned how he could be allowed to fight. The media was seemingly unaware that they were making him even more money to fuel his “money” persona.

All the negative press Mayweather garnered only made the public thirst for him to lose even greater. Mayweather continued to promote himself as an undefeated champion who would not and could not be beat. Signing a $30 million per fight deal with Showtime, Mayweather continued to live in the “money” persona. Before his last few fights, Mayweather started promoting himself, as “TBE,” an acronym for the best ever. With media attention at a fever pitch, and domestic violence a hot topic following the Ray Rice video, Mayweather’s celebrity was never bigger.

After five years of negotiations, a title fight was finally agreed to win Pacquiao. The media whirlwind took over. The public bought into the fight of the century as casual sports fans were unsure who would win in a fight with the sport’s two pound for pound kings. The public bought into the hype believing Pacquiao could finally end Mayweather’s winning streak. A record 4.4 million pay-per view buys, shattering the previous world record for 2.6 million for Mayweather’s fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.  Mayweather would walk away from the fight, with an easy decision victory and an over $200 million paycheck.

Rousey’s career arc was similar to Mayweather’s. However, Rousey’s shift to the “money” persona of Mayweather was when she joined the UFC. When Rousey joined the UFC, the promotion machine took over. People loved to love Rousey as much as they loved to hate her for her brash cocky attitude. Rousey declared that she would win all of her fights and retired undefeated as the greatest of all-time.

The media wanted to portray Rousey as a trailblazer, a women leading the feminist movement, breaking ground in what had traditionally been a man’s world. However, Rousey would not play the role the media wanted her to play. Rousey starred as one of the coaches on the Ultimate Fighter again against her rival Tate. Rousey can off poorly and very unlikable for her approach and coaching techniques with her team.

Tate and Rousey would have their rematch at UFC 168 in the co-main event. As expected, Rousey won by arm bar, but was pushed in the third round, the deepest she has ever gone in a fight. As Tate rose from the mat, she looked to shake the hand of Rousey, who blew her off, refusing to shake hands. Despite the lack of sportsmanship, Rousey’s star continued to rise, and would receive a boost by taking shots at Mayweather for his history of domestic violence. Again, Rousey would be pushed as a feminist hero. Rousey began to cross over into the mainstream media, and began her transition into acting.

Rousey was everywhere in the media. However, the attention and fame had caught up to Rousey. She was overexposed, she was exhausted. At the weight-in for her title fight against Holm, the traditional stare down got a little too close for Rousey’s liking. The media exploded, wanting to see what Rousey would do next. Holm who seemingly did nothing wrong, was the target of scathing Instagram posts by Rousey who called her out despite her over reaction. Holm remained calm and confident.

With Etihad Stadium filled in Australia, and 1.1 million pay-per view buys, all watching were witnesses to the biggest upset in UFC history. Rousey was thoroughly dominated. Interestingly, Rousey predicted how exactly Holm would defeat her on Jimmy Fallon. Holm frustrated Rousey with his boxing combinations, badly damaging the face of Rousey.  Rousey had no answers for Holm who countered all of her moves. Seconds into the second round, it was all over for Rousey, who was knocked out with a vicious head kick.

The loss ended any further comparison of Rousey’s record to Mayweather’s. However, it was Mayweather who seemingly ended the feud. In a rather unexpected turn of events, it was Mayweather who took to social media offering to help coach Rousey in boxing to defeat Holm in a rematch. Tentatively, the Holm Rousey rematch is scheduled for UFC 200 in July 2016. With Rousey stating if she loses again to Holm, she will retire.

 

Miguel Cotto – Canelo Alvarez Preview

On Saturday November 21st, a national rivalry is reignited inside the ring as Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs) steps into the ring with Puerto Rican Middleweight Champion Miguel Cotto (40-4, 33 KOs).

For decades there has been no bigger national rivalry in boxing than that between Mexico and Puerto Rico. The fighters have changed over the years, but the fans and the fighting styles have remained the same. For years, the boxers of Mexico and Puerto Rico has had little interest in fighting a defensive style. Instead both elect to come straight and throw punches until they can’t. It’s an electric style that brings the prideful nationalistic fans to their feet as they compete with each other to be the loudest in the arena.

For the fans and the boxers, winning means more than the boxer’s hand being raised at the end of the night. Both fans and fighters want to be victorious to prove to the other that not only is their boxer superior, but so is their way of life. A win provides a nation with hope and inspiration to the people that one day they can rise to the top. A loss is demoralizing not only for the boxer but for an entire nation.

For boxing fans, Cotto-Canelo is a dream matchup between two of boxing’s biggest stars that has been a year in making. But it is a fight that no one could have predicted even three years ago. In December 2012 Cotto was easily defeated for his second straight fight. People began to wonder if the speed and power that had helped Cotto win titles at both 140, 147 and 154 pounds had been lost to father time. After deliberating his future for several months, Cotto would return to the ring in October 2013. However for this fight Cotto elected to hire Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.

With Roach in his corner, Cotto was rejuvenated inside the ring and the results proved it. In his next three fights, Cotto won all three by stoppage. Including a dominate performance by Cotto to claim the lineal middleweight title victory against Sergio Martinez. In front of a rapid Puerto Rican crowd at Madison Square Garden, Cotto sent Martinez to the canvas three times in the first round, eventually stopping Martinez and sending him into retirement. Despite capturing a title in a fourth weight class, Cotto enters the ring a modernity underdog to Mexican prodigy Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. At the same time Cotto knows a victory secures his position within the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Despite only being 25 years old, Saul ‘Canelo” Alvarez is the Mexican face of boxing. His trademark movie star good looks, and red hair that spawned the nickname “Canelo” has made him one of the biggest box office draws in the sport. But despite his looks and charm, Alvarez is not a boxer to be mistaken as a pretty boy boxer who excels defensively to ensure the shape of his face. Alvarez is in fact almost the exact opposite, a fighter who is not afraid of taking a punch to the face as long as he lands a more powerful punch to the face of his opponent.

Alvarez turned profession at 15 years old, something that common within Mexico as boxers attempt to fight their way out of poverty. For the next five years, Alvarez would claim the boxing ranks maintaining an undefeated record. May 1st 2010, Alvarez was given a chance at stardom by appearing on HBO prior to the Floyd Mayweather Jr. Shane Mosley pay-per view.

Alvarez’s shot at stardom came against Jose Cotto, the older less talented brother of Miguel. Alvarez would continue his impressive career dispatching of Cotto in the 9th round when he handed the Puerto Rican boxer the only knockout loss of his career. In his next ten fights Alvarez would win by decisively, including a unanimous decision over Mosley in May 2012 on the undercard of another Mayweather pay-per view.

Alvarez would taste his first defeat when he faced defensive mastermind Mayweather in September 2013. The defeat was humbling for Alvarez as he lost a decisive decision to Mayweather. Like Cotto, Alvarez responded with three with three straight victories, including a knockout of the year candidate in May against James Kirkland. On Saturday, Alvarez enters the ring the favourite not only because of his elite level of skill, but his size advantage in the ring over Cotto.

When the 12th round concludes in the early hours of Sunday morning, there is no guarantee who will walk away victorious. The only guarantee is that both boxers’ faces will be bruised, swollen and blooded for the enjoyment of the fans who will be standing for 36 minutes of action. When ring announce Michael Buffer announces the winner an entire nation will be united in pride through a boxing victory.

NBC Scores A Knockout

March 8, 2015

NBC scores a knockout with its debut broadcast of Premier Boxing Champions, bringing the sport back to national primetime television.

From the very beginning of the 8:30 broadcast, NBC made it abundantly clear how serious the network is about its decision to invest in boxing. NBC’s broadcast achieved its goal of generating interest in its Saturday night programing.

For NBC, the premier episode of the series could not have come at a better time for the network. Interest was surely peaked with news that the sports two biggest stars agreed to fight on May 2nd.

The broadcast started with an opening credits in the mold of NBC’s very successful Sunday Night Football. The opening video was successful in communicating to viewers exactly who the boxers were and that they are in fact stars in a sport that desperately needs more.

NBC and the MGM Grand made an interesting decision to have Al Michaels, the multiple time winning Emmy broadcaster’s mic live throughout the arena generating crowd reactions to his every word. Michaels provided the show with instant credibility to tell casual viewers that NBC’s venture into boxing is a big deal that you need to watch.

After a video promoting one of the events two main events, Michaels brought out boxing Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard. Leonard was eager to promote the important of boxing being on network television primetime for the first time in 30 years. Leonard articulated to the audience how important for the sport of boxing being on primetime is. The point is even more essential with the commonly held believe among people who are not fans of the sport that boxing is a dying form of competition.

Michaels and Leonard would go onto discussion the first bout featuring former three division champion, and cocky loud mouth Adrien “The Problem” Broner. Before throwing to Laila Ali in a pre-recorded interview with the challenger John Molina Jr. Ali, the daughter of boxing legend Mohammed, came off as a star instant. The charisma and knowledge of Ali jumped of the screen whenever she was on camera. In her interview with Molina, the boxer promised a slugfest and again promoted the importance of network television.

Calling the action for NBC was Marv Albert. The network choose to introduce him by showing the last call Albert made of boxing on network television. The decision to do so, aged Albert badly. However, Albert’s performance was solid throughout the broadcast. Albert successfully called the action within the squared circle while displaying great chemistry with his colour analyst Leonard. The ability of Albert and Leonard to successfully navigate and articulate relevant questions and answers to the viewers, greatly improved the broadcast’s informative nature to casual boxing fans who may have been tuning into to view the sport for the first time in years. However, Albert did show some rust calling boxing as his calls of the action inside the ring were lacking at times throughout the night.

Broner and Molina opened the action in the ring. Both fighters came down a rather ugly and seemingly unnecessary catwalk on their way to the ring. NBC seemed to dictate that neither fighter come out with any member of their corner or entourage. While also tuning down the entrance music subduing the effect of the entrance. Broner entered the ring the heavy favourite. While Molina promised to “Bring the Problem.” Molina was the heavy crowd favourite as the antics of the younger Broner have turned off many fans making him one of the sport’s biggest villains.

As the bell rung to signal the start of the bout, Broner, usually a slow starter got off to an impressive start. Broner decisively took the first two rounds with a very cautious Molina, who could only land a single punch in round one. Broner’s trainer Mike Stafford had little respect for Molina. “Molina is a one punch fighter. We aren’t going to lose to a one punch fighter.” Said Stafford.

Molina won his only round of the night according to unofficial scorer Steve Farhood in the third as he put together a powerful combination. The three punch combo proved to be one of the few outburst of offense that Molina had on the night. The most impressive part of Molina’s game Saturday night was his trunks. On each leg, Molina had an airbrushed picture of the face of one of his friends who recently passed away.

From round four onward till the conclusion of the 12th and final round, Broner completely outclassed his opponent. It appeared Broner had toned down his in ring antics until the eighth round while tied up with Molina on the ropes, Broner stuck out his tongue began to dance in a clownish fashion and continued to trash talk Molina. In the 10th round Albert questioned former referee Steve Smoger about referee’s Robert Byrd’s performance in the fight. Smoger replied, “It’s not a tough fight to officiate. It’s a tough fight for Molina.”

The fight proved to be disappointing for both the audience and the network who were surely both hoping for a knockout. The bout proved to be rather boring as two of the three scored all 12 rounds for Broner. In a post-fight interview, Broner discussed the crowd who booed him the entire night. “Last time I fought for the crowd I lost.” Broner was quickly cut off before he could get the network into any trouble with a live mic in front of him.

Between fights, NBC showed another phenomenal video promoting the next episode of PBC on April 11th featuring Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia. The video outlined the rise from humble beginnings of both fighters.

The main event featured two fighters looking to lay claim to the title or at least enter the conversation of top welterweight not named Floyd Mayweather Jr or Manny Pacquiao. NBC billed Robert Guerrero as a fighter who had only lost once in the past nine years. That one loss to Mayweather. While Thurman was depicted as an up and coming power punching star, who is stepping up in class from his former opponents to face Guerrero.

As with the first fight, vignettes ran telling the story behind each fighter. Guerrero’s video package was based on his family as much as it was his career as a boxer. The video outlined how fighting is a Guerero family tradition as Robert is a third generation fighter with his father training him. But Robert was quick to praise his wife Casey as the best fighter within the family. Casey is in her fifth year of being cancer free following her victory over leukemia. Casey required a bone marrow transplant during which time Robert took a hiatus from his boxing career.

The video of Thurman was used to demonstrate both the speed and power Thurman poses. After the video concluded B.J. Flores, who was used well the entire night interviewed Thurman about how the fighter uses visualization. Thurman gave an excellent, well-articulated description of exactly how he saw the fight going. Thurman visualized himself knocking Guerrero out, however said he did visualize a plan b, in which he would use his skills as a boxer to lead him to victory.

The introduction of both fighters left the viewer knowing that the crowd was going to be behind Thurman. Kenny Bayless was the third man in the ring and was given a strong review by Smoger for his refereeing throughout the bout. Albert continued to note how Thurman was very inexperienced when it came to fighting left handed fighters.

Thurman got out to a quick start winning the opening two rounds. The early rounds featured fast paced action where both fighters landed powerful punches. In the second round, Leonard noted how it appeared Thurman had hurt Guerrero with one of his powerful right hands. In the third round, Thurman and Guerrero’s head collided accidentally and left Thurman with a large welt on his forehead.

Throughout the bout, Thurman displayed both the speed, strength and defense that has made him such a highly touted prospect. The head movement of Thurman made him a difficult target to land punches on throughout the first half of the fight.

As the fight entered the seventh round the action had noticeably slowed from the earlier rounds. However, in the ninth round with his welt noticeably increased in size, Thurman was able to send Guerrero to the canvas. As the cameras began to zoom in and focus on the face of Guerrero as Bayless gave him the ten count, blood was streaming down from his eye. Guerrero beat the count before being saved by the bell before Thurman had a chance to finish the fight.

The knockdown seemed to energize Guerrero who seemed out of the fight following the knockout. Despite taking a powerful combination from Thurman, Guerrero was able to respond back with his own power punches. As Guerrero continued to fight and refused to back down the crowd turned it allegiances and loudly backed Guerrero.

However, it was all too late for Guerrero. Guerrero kept coming in the eleventh and twelfth rounds. As he was too far behind to win the fight by decision. Guerrero did stun Thurman in the final round but could not score the knockout he needed to win the fight.

As the bell rang to conclude the action on NBC, the judgers presented their scorecards. Thurman won unanimously by the scores of 120-107, 118-109 and 118-108. The victory cemented Thurman as a top contender within the 147lb division.

Some quick notes. I scored the first fight 119-109 in favour of Broner. With the victory, Broner would appear to be in line for the winner of one of two fights. Broner could challenge either winner in the April 11th PBC main event featuring Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson. Or Broner could challenge the winner of Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse.

In the second fight I was generous and gave the last two rounds to Guerrero. I had Thurman winning 116-111. For Guerrero getting a next big fight will be an interesting proposition. Guerrero is positioned as an entertaining fighter but not an elite caliber fighter. A matchup with former Mayweather opponent Marcos Maidana could provide boxing fans with the most entertaining matchup.

For Thurman, his next opponent will likely be a fighter considered to be in the top five rating of The Ring Magazine’s welterweight division. A matchup with another young up and coming such as Kell Brook or Shawn Porter would be an excellent matchup. However both fighters are currently signed for upcoming fights. Two fighters who are not signed for a fight that would be interested in a fight with Thurman include Juan Manuel Marquez and Amir Khan. With Thurman receiving mainstream exposure, a Marquez matchup could headline a pay-per view and generate 300-400 thousand buys. But with pay-per view considered a business on the decline, Thurman may angle for another PBC fight with Amir Khan to build his profile before angling for a bigger pay-per view fight and payday.

The night can be considered successful by NBC as the network won the night generating a 2.53 rating and 3.13 million viewers. The results are interesting as they outdrew the last UFC on Fox card featuring Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson.

George Dixon: Boxing’s First African American Champion

George Dixon: Boxing’s First African American Champion

Boxing is one of the world’s oldest sports. Boxing has evolved from a bareknuckle competition held in bars, to a heavily regulated sport that generates thousands of spectators. The highest honour one can achieve in the sport of boxing is becoming a world champion. In Canadian boxing history several champions stand out. In the 1950s George Chuvalo dominated the heavyweight division. In the 1990s and early 2000s Lennox Lewis dominated the heavyweight ranks, while Arturo Gatti held championships in two different weight classes. Today, Adonis Stevenson, Bermane Stiverne and Jelena Mrdjenovich hold WBC championships. But before those champions won their title, a small black boxer from Halifax became the first Canadian boxing champion. George “Little Chocolate” Dixon was not only the first Canadian to win a boxing championship, but also the first black man to win a world championship.  Dixon also become the first man to win a championship in multiple weight classes and the first man to regain a championship after losing it. Dixon was able to achieve his numerous accomplishments in an era of racism that saw many blacks murdered. The racism of the era also saw many decisions go against Dixon. George Dixon’s career achievements and contributions to the sport of boxing make him one of boxing and Canada’s all-time greats.
George Dixon was born on July 29, 1870 in Africville, Nova Scotia, a small black community within Halifax.   Dixon was born to a black mother while his father was a white soldier. Dixon’s family would move from Halifax to Boston when Dixon was a youth. While in Boston, Dixon dropped out of school and became a photographer’s apprentice where he would often take the pictures of local sports stars. When a boxer came to the shop and had his picture taken, Dixon instantly became interested in the sport. Dixon would soon purchase a book on boxing, which he read to gain knowledge of the sport and training techniques.
Dixon would have his first professional fight at the age of 16 in November 1886. The fight took place in Halifax, where it was easier for black boxers to get professional fights. Dixon would easily defeat his opponent with a third round knockout.  Dixon would take eleven months off before collecting his second win. After Dixon won his second bout, he engaged on a more regular fight schedule, winning his sixth straight fight by February 1888.  By the middle of 1888, the undefeated Dixon would have his name thrown into title contention. In May 1888, Dixon fought Tommy “Spider” Kelly for the unofficial paperweight title. The nine round fight was ruled a draw. However, Kelly decided to move up in weight from paperweight to bantamweight, vacating his claim to the unofficial title. With Kelly vacating the title, Dixon lay claim to the unofficial title.  In the early years of Dixon’s career, boxing did not have official champions. Instead boxers would lay claims to titles across the globe and were supported by the media.
Dixon would continue his undefeated streak throughout the rest of 1888. But it would be a long difficult road for Dixon to the top of his division. From June to December 1888, Dixon fought Hank Brennan three times. The first meeting was ruled a draw, despite Dixon recording a knockdown in the bout. Fans demanded a rematch which was set for December 4th. Again the fight was ruled a draw after nine hard fought rounds. On December 28th the pair meet in their third battle. Again the referee would rule the bout a draw. The decision angered the crowd and they decided to storm the ring. The crowd would soon move outside where the fans of the two fighters engaged in a riot which had to be broken up by the Boston police.
By the end of 1888, word quickly spread about Dixon’s ability in the ring, training techniques and physical fitness. Dixon’s defensive skills often brought him attentions as it was uncommon to see fights display any kind of defensive maneuvering, body movement and blocking in their fights. Dixon has also been credited with creating shadowboxing. Shadowboxing is a technique still used today that sees the fighter fight an invisible opponent. Dixon has also been credited with popularizing and introducing training and boxing techniques including endurance and sprints running, use of a punching bag, and combination punching.  Dixon’s training techniques add to his legacy in the sport and his greatness. Many athletes can claim they have had an influence in their sports, but few can make claims such as Dixon who essentially invented the backbone of modern boxing training techniques that are still used today.

The year 1889 would help elevate Dixon to title contender in 1890. Dixon would start the year with two wins and a draw. In March 1889, Dixon would be introduced to Tom O’Rourke while training. Dixon would hire O’Rourke as his manager and trainer. O’Rourke would serve in those positions for the majority of Dixon’s 20 year career. Dixon would suffer his first professional defeat when the referee disqualified him for an unintentional low blow.  Despite the loss, Dixon signed on to fight Brennan for a fourth time on October 14th, 1889. Yet again the pair fought to a draw. However, unlike the previous three fights, the forth fight was much longer and lasted 26 rounds. Dixon scored a knockdown in the 24th round but referee ruled the match a draw much to the dismay of the crowd and both fighters’ corners. Police again were called to break up fights following the boxing affair.  With the success of Dixon’s early career, Tom O’Rourke was able to sign Dixon to fight Eugene Hornbacker in New Haven, Connecticut on December 27, 1889. A win would give Dixon an opportunity to challenge for the bantamweight championship. The bout proved to be easy for Dixon as he knocked Hornbacker down four times in the first round before finishing the fight with a second round knockout.
With the decisive knockout win over Hornbacker, Dixon and bantamweight champion Cal McCarthy agreed to a title fight in Boston on February 7th 1890.   On the day of the fight, both fighters weighted in at 114.5 lbs with McCarthy being a five to one betting favourite.  The betting was another example of how Dixon was forced to fight a system that devalued his accomplishments in the ring and overvalued the in ring accomplishments of white fighters.  The fight between McCarthy and Dixon was a marathon. Both fighters battled back and forth, round after round. In the ninth round, Dixon scored a knockdown. The fight would continue on as both fighters’ faces became bruised, swollen and started to bleed. Dixon would score another knockdown in the 62nd round. The fight would go another eight rounds before it was ruled a draw. The fight went seventy rounds and lasted four hours and forty minutes. Dixon now claimed a share to the bantamweight world title.
In June of 1890, Dixon and O’Rourke made the decision to cross the Atlantic to challenge British bantamweight champion Nunc Wallace. Prior to Dixon, no North American fighter had ever defeated an English champion. Dixon was the only black man allowed in the British club hosting the fight. The fight was a fast paced, hard punching affair with both men scoring knockdowns. However as the fight went on, Dixon began to outclass Wallace, eventually stopping him in the 18th round, for a TKO victory.  The victory gave Dixon claim to the British bantamweight title and became the first North American to go to England and win a title fight. Dixon would return to Boston with his eyes set on two goals, unifying the bantamweight championship and moving up in weight to featherweight and capture the division’s championships.
Dixon and O’Rourke returned to Boston and made a list of opponents they wanted to face in order to lay claims to both the bantamweight and featherweight titles. The list consisted of featherweight champion Johnny Murphy. Cal McCarthy, who Dixon needed to decisively beat to erase any doubts about who the undisputed champion was. The third man on the list was reigning Australian bantamweight champion Abe Willis. Despite returning to Boston, Dixon still suffered from racism. On October 23rd, 1890, Dixon would meet Johnny Murphy in a title fight. Dixon controlled the fight from the beginning. However, Dixon was forced to fight in the center of the ring, as the pro Murphy crowd would make racist chants and hit Dixon in the legs with blackjacks and slug shots anytime he came close to the ropes. In the 37th round, Dixon dropped Murphy to the canvas, before finishing Murphy in the 40th round with a knockout almost two hours after the fight began. Dixon was noted and praised for his ability to keep his composure, despite dealing with racial abuse.
Following Dixon’s victory over Murphy, Dixon looked to the next name on his list and a rematch with Cal McCarthy. The two would meet for the second time on March 31st 1891 in Troy, New York.  In an interview with The Washington Post a day prior to the fight, O’Rourke told the reporter that Dixon was fit and expecting to beat McCarthy in the rematch.  The fight with McCarthy did not go anywhere near as long as the previous seventy round meeting. Dixon knocked McCarthy down in the third round.  In the 22nd round Dixon finished the fight by sending McCarthy to the canvas four times before his corner threw in the towel.

With one name left on his list, Dixon challenged Abe Willis. The two would meet on July 28th 1891 in San Francisco. The Australian champion Willis proved to be little challenge for Dixon. Dixon would make easy work of Willis finishing the fight with a 5th round knockout. To further cement his claims to both the bantamweight and featherweight titles, Dixon would defeat British champion Fred Jackson in 14 rounds.  With Dixon’s dominance in 1890 and 1891 in title fights, Dixon became the first Canadian and black man to be the undisputed and unified bantamweight and featherweight champion of the world. Dixon earned his championships through his talent, training, hard work and overcoming adversity. Dixon proved that he is one of boxing and Canada’s all-time greats. Dixon’s accomplishments are made even more impressive when considering white fighters would refuse to fight blacks and would try to bribe them to take a dive in fights. Dixon’s win made it more socially acceptable for a black man to fight and defeat a white man. With Dixon now the world champion, he was looking to profit.
Dixon would continue to fight frequently in the northeast looking to collect purses for fighting lower level competition and four round exhibitions. Between 1892 and 1893 Dixon fought 32 times in Philadelphia.  In September 1892, New Orleans would host the Carnival of Champions. Dixon would earn his largest career purse of over $17,000 to face Jack Skelly for the featherweight title. The Carnival of Champions generated a record gate receipt on tickets sales for boxing. The event sold 10,000 tickets ranging from five to fifteen dollars. As part of his purse for the event, Dixon made the promoter give one thousand tickets to black fans. But Dixon still had to deal with large amount of racism, including being kicked out of his hotel. Dixon would go on to make easy work of Skelly knocking him out in the tenth round to retain claim to the featherweight title.
Following 1892, Dixon’s career arc would have far more negatives than positives. In the five years following, Dixon would defend his title over 20 times. But Dixon also took part in vaudeville shows as a way to make extra money by fighting multiple times a day against people who wanted to challenge the champion. Dixon began to lose interest in boxing and became more interested in buying and gambling on horses, drinking and women. Dixon struggled with his money often giving money to charity and spending more money than he had. Dixon would lose his second career fight, dropping a fourth round decision to Billy Plimmer.  Dixon would continue to struggle with younger, up and coming fighters while his post-fight drinking and gambling created a negative public appeal. Dixon would be arrested for the third time in this period for drunk and disorderly. By June 1896, Dixon had defended his title over 30 times, however the media was sensing that the once unbeatable Dixon was likely to lose his title soon.
On October 4th 1897, Dixon met Solly Smith for the title. The two had fought four years earlier in Connie Island with Dixon easily defeating Smith in seven rounds.  The rematch between Dixon and Smith would go twenty rounds with Smith winning the title by decision.  Dixon was devastated by the decision and broke down in the locker room to O’Rourke who strongly disagreed with the decision.
After Dixon lost the title, his drinking and finances worsened. However his career arc would have one last positive upswing. Dixon would face Dave Sullivan on November 11, 1898 in New York City. Sullivan had defeated Smith for the featherweight title. In their title fight Dixon showed flashes of his past dominance, eventually knocking Sullivan down in the tenth round before the referee stopped the fight later in the round awarding Dixon a TKO victory. Dixon would go onto defend the title 11 times.  With the win, Dixon became the first person in boxing history to recapture a title they previously held. Dixon would go on to defend his title for over a year. The title win showed the determination and commitment to the sport of boxing that Dixon possessed making him one of the sport’s great championships.
Dixon’s reputation in the ring went past his tremendous skills during his prime. Dixon was regarded as a polite boxer who followed the rules, did not a seek fame or over celebrate his victories. Dixon accepted every challenger who wanted to fight and although it is unknown how many fights Dixon actually fought, it is believed to be over 700.
In late 1899, Dixon noticed a sharp drop off in his speed, technique and punching power despite winning several more fights. Dixon declared his fight with Terry McGovern would be his last fight. McGovern and Dixon meet on January 9th 1900, with McGovern being the betting favourite. The fight saw McGovern dominate Dixon in the same manor Dixon had dominated his opponents earlier in his career. McGovern would win by seventh round TKO after O’Rourke threw in a towel following multiple knockdowns of Dixon. The knockout ended Dixon’s run as champion, a title he had held for nine of his 13 years as a professional fighter. Dixon retired following the loss.  At the time of his retirement Dixon was considered the greatest fighter of his weight classes and one of the greatest boxers to ever fight.
After a two month retirement, Dixon made a comeback with little success, forever tarnishing his legacy. After losing a fight in September, Dixon promised to retire again, but was back boxing two months later. Dixon would continue to drink more and train less as his losses continued to pile up. The once great Dixon was broke and had no big purses coming in from his fights. By 1902, Dixon’s relationships with Tom O’Rourke and his wife Kitty O’Rourke had deteriorated with both leaving Dixon.
By July 1902, Dixon relocated to England in an attempt to use his past fame to chase bigger purses. Dixon continued to lose the majority of his fights and was too poor to return to Boston. It was not until a politician visiting England paid for Dixon ticket home before Dixon could leave England. In August 1905, Dixon return to Boston and rehired O’Rourke as his manager. Dixon would continue to lose almost all of his fights.  Dixon would fight his last fight in December 1906 losing in fifteen round decision to an unknown opponent and finally retired for good. Not too long after his last fight, Dixon was living and begging on the streets of New York with no friends. Attempts by Dixon’s fans to get Dixon back on his feet failed and the media reported the end was near for the former champion who had fallen on dark times.
Dixon would die January 6th 1908 in the alcohol ward of Bellevue Hospital. Dixon would tell doctors he had no friends except for former heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan.  The death of Dixon was a sad end to one of boxing’s great fighters who didn’t know how to handle his money and retired six years too late. The late career of George Dixon is not unlikely many boxers who stay around for one too many fights to collect the paycheck such as Muhammad Ali. Ali was a similar iconic champion to Dixon. Ali became the first man to capture multiple reigns with the heavyweight title. Ali notoriously come out of retirement to accept a one million dollar payday only to be knocked out by Larry Holmes.
Despite Dixon’s incredibly depressing life and career following Dixon’s loss to McGovern, Dixon’s career still remains one of boxing’s all-time greats. No champion in history has defended their title more often than Dixon. The life and career of George Dixon changed the sport of boxing both technically and socially.  Dixon’s in-ring and conditioning techniques are still used today by modern boxers. While socially, Dixon made it acceptable for black boxers to fight and defeat white boxers in an era of heavy racism. The accomplishments of Dixon in training and in-ring success make Dixon one of boxing and Canada’s all-time great athletes.

Bibliography

Primary Sources:

The Globe, “Boxing. George Dixon is Dead.” The Globe, January 7, 1908.

The Washington Post, “George Dixon in Fighting Trim.” The Washington Post, March 31, 1891.

The Washington Post, “GEORGE DIXON THE WINNER: Solly Smith Defeated After Seven Hard-fought Rounds. THOUSANDS SAW THE FIGHT The Colored Boy Showed His Superiority All Through, and by His Cleverness Retains the Feather-weight Championship of the World—Smith Made a Game Struggle, but He Was Unable to Withstand the Terrible Left-hand Punches of Dixon. SOLLY SMITH ARRESTED. DIXON’S COLORED ADMIRERS OVERJOYED.” The Washington Post. September 26, 1893.

Secondary Sources:

In Collaboration, “Dixon, George,” Dictionary of Canadian Bibliography, vol. 13. University of Toronto/ University Laval, (1994). http://www.biographi.ca.libproxy.wlu.ca/en/bio/dixon_george_1870_1908_13E.html (accessed November 25, 2014).

Callis, Tracy., and Johnston, Chuck. Boxing in the Los Angeles Area, 1880 – 2005. Trafford Publishing, 2009.

Callis, Tracy., Hasson, Chuck., and Delisa, Mike. Philadelphia’s Boxing Heritage 1876 – 1976. Arcadian Publishing, 2002.

Glenn, Mike. “George Dixon: World Bantamweight and Featherweight Champion.” In The First Black Boxing Champions: Essays on Fighters of the 1800s to the 1900s, edited by Colleen Aycock and Mark Scott, 48 – 59, McFarland, January 2011.

Kirsch, George B., Harris, Othello., and Nolte, Claire Elaine. Encyclopedia of Ethnicity and Sports in the United States. Greenwood Publishing Group, January 2000.

Laffoley, Steven. Shadowboxing the Rise and Fall of George Dixon. Pottersfield Press, 2012.

Somrack, F. Daniel. Boxing in San Francisco. Arcadian Publishing, October 2004.

Smith, Kevin. Boston’s Boxing Heritage: Prizefighting from 1882 to 1955. Arcadian Publishing, October 2002.