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Welsh fights in New York

by Sean Davies (U1712711) 09 July 2008
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Joe Calzaghe’s 8 November, 2008, light-heavyweight fight against Roy Jones Jr went to New York’s Madison Square Garden rather than the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

I looked at the context of that fight within Wales’ short but drama-filled record of bouts across the Atlantic.

Now I can’t claim to have gone through every boxing record, so these stats are there to be shot at – I’m sure you won’t be slow if you see an error!

But – as far as I’m aware – Calzaghe became the first post-war Welsh boxer to fight in New York City; the seventh Welshman to fight there overall; and just the fifth to fight at boxing’s spiritual home, Madison Square Garden.

Of the other Welshman to enter the ring in the Big Apple:

Jim Driscoll fought in New York City four times (1908-9), against Matty Baldwin, Johnny Marto, Leach Cross, and in his classic clash with Abe Attell. He won all four (on newspaper decisions).

Jimmy Wilde fought just once in New York City, in 1923 in his final bout when he was knocked out in the seventh in a famous clash with Pancho Villa.

Llanelli-born light-heavyweight Daniel Thomas, who usually fought under the name Gipsy Daniels, enjoyed a colourful, well-travelled career. He won 86, lost 43 and drew 12 of his 141 known fights, and could boast a stoppage win over Max Schmeling in Germany. He fought eight times in the States in the period 1922-3, all the bouts in New York City. The Welshman defeated Stewart Bell (twice), Jack Douglas, Wally Stripp (twice), Len Collett, Fred Clarke and Wolf Larsen. His only defeat was a points loss to Charley McKenna. The second Bell fight and the Clarke bout were at Madison Square Garden.

Frank Moody, 'The Pontypridd Puncher', fought a remarkable 52 times in North America in the period 1923-6, winning 32 and drawing nine with victories over Hall-of-Famers Lou Bogash and Kid Norfolk and a showdown with one of the greatest fighters of all time, middleweight king Harry Greb. Nine of his US fights are known to have been in New York, Moody winning six, losing two and receiving one no-decision. The victory over Norfolk was at Yankee Stadium, while Moody claimed two wins at Madison Square Garden, against Arthur Cotter and Benny Ross. He lost his third Garden bout to the then-undefeated George Courtney. His only other Big Apple defeat was against the great Maxie 'Slapsie' Rosenbloom at the Pioneer Sporting Club.

Tommy Farr’s most famous New York fight was his first, a points defeat to Joe Louis at the Yankee Stadium in 1937. But that threw him into the premier heavyweight mix, and his next four fights (1938-9) were all at Madison Square Garden. Former champions Jim Braddock and Max Baer were first, followed by Lou Nova and Red Burman. Farr lost all four on points but made himself a firm favourite at the Garden, especially after the thrilling 15-round war with Nova.

Freddie Welsh’s remarkable career saw him fight 18 times in New York City between 1909 and 1922, facing Johnny Frayne, Jack Goodman, Pal Moore, Phil Bloom (twice), Joe Shugrue (twice), Willie Beecher, Ad Wolgast, Willie Ritchie, Johnny Lustig, Charley White, Frank Whitney, Benny Leonard (three times), Johnny Kilbane and Archie Walker. His record there was poor as he lost eight of the bouts, although six of those were no-decision newspaper verdicts.

Six of those fights were at the Garden, against Shugrue (2), Wolgast, Beecher, Ritchie and the first of Welsh’s epic trio of clashes against Leonard. Welsh lost four of his Garden fights, beating Beecher on a newspaper decision and Wolgast by TKO.

*As a related bit of trivia, I thought I'd mention the Welsh trainer Dai Dollings here. Having trained marathon runners and the great Ted 'Kid' Lewis in the UK, Dollings moved to New York where - in the period around 1914 - he worked with a young Ray Arcel, teaching him how to analyse fighters. Dollings was a legend at Grupp's Gym on West 116th Street, the top New York fighting gym before the emergence of Stillman's.

Any thoughts on the article or news on other Welsh bouts across the Atlantic welcomed...

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comment by WeeBG1 (U6623272)

posted Jul 15, 2008

I like JC and respect what he has done in his career.

If it's all lagacy now then why not fight KP. We all moan about the wages of most pro footballers being too high yet we praise a boxer for wanting more money. i would respect Joe more if he took on KP and lost than if he knocked out RJJ in the 3rd after not getting a blow landed.

Jones is a legend but not off the back of his last 8 or 9 years fights.

Another thing, Joe has the looks and can talk, he will be snapped up by sky or one of the major American companies to be an expert pundit, he will earn millions after his retirement so the pay day is not all that important is it???

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comment by Daniel (U9467396)

posted Jul 15, 2008

Was anyone there in Vegas this early summer? I was, but the Thomas & Mac centre was half empty, we'd paid for tickets direct from the venue, and asked for premium. They gave us economy, closed down one side due to lack of interest, and were giving away ground level seats in exchange for the nose bleeds once you were in there.

I dare say, someone has chosen Madison because of business reasons. He might get somewhere near filling the place. Because Vegas was empty, and not many in the crowd were impressed.

It was deathly silent at some points, and my friend pointing out where Simon Cowel is rather than the punches being thrown testifies, that a bigger show needs to be put on if the USA are going to see Calzage as an al time great.

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posted Jul 15, 2008

Can anyone really tell me what the obssession is with Kelly Pavlik. I am willing to admit he is a "dangerous" fighter but some of you seem to be hyping him up to be the best thing since sliced bread. Yes he beat a decent fighter in Jermaine Taylor twice but who else? He was also closer to being stopped in the first fight with Taylor than Calzaghe has been in his whole career!

And everyone keeps moaning about who Calzaghe has fought since hitting the big time, but no one moans about Pavlik fighting Lockett after back 2 back wins against Taylor. But thats all ok isn't it, coz Pavlik is American. PLEASE STOP OBSSESSING OVER PAVLIK !!!!

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posted Jul 15, 2008

I agree, I would much rather see JC fight someone in his own weight division: either the young unbeaten WBC champ Chad Dawson, or IBF veteran champ Antonio Tarver, a man who has beaten a much younger Roy Jones twice, and the first man to knock RJJ out.

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posted Jul 16, 2008

Pavlik need to stop ducking Abraham and actually unigy the middleweight division, he has done absolutely nothing other than beat Jermaine Taylor(who really lost to Hopkins twice).

Other fighters like typical limey english fraud Froch need who is 31 and fought nothing but tomato cans. Calzaghe is top 3 pfp in the world.

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posted Sep 14, 2008


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comment by U7926788

posted Sep 15, 2008

Evan Armstrong, was originally from Wales, but moved to Ayr, Scotland, after he did his national service in the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

He fought future world champ Chucho Castillo in the Inglewood Forum, California in 1968.

He also fought in:
Mexico City (against world title challenger Jose Medel)
Spain (against former world champ Jose Legra)
South Africa (against future world champ Arnold Taylor)
Ghana (against future world champ David Kotey).
He also fought world title challenger Alan Rudkin.

Ken Buchanan is one of the few British fighters I can think of who can match his travels: Spain, Puerto Rico, USA x8, South Africa, Canada, Denmark x7, Italy x2, France, Japan, Zimbabwe. Only fought in Scotland 4 times and never in his hometown!

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posted Sep 16, 2008

SaintsAlive21 - many thanks for the note, I'm stunned that someone's actually responded with a post that's related to the article!!

Have to say that Evan Armstrong is a new one on me, I'll have to try to find out more about him, looks a very colourful record. If you're looking for well-travelled Welsh fighters, check out the link in the article to Daniel Thomas/Gipsy Daniels (although he never made it to Australia or Africa!)

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comment by U7926788

posted Sep 16, 2008

Sean D. - Cheers. I actually stayed with Evan's sister's family when I was a small kid, so that is how I know about him.

I've got things slightly mixed up as he was actually Scottish, its his father who was Welsh and moved to Ayr to join the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

Evan was a British and Commonwealth champ at featherweight and also fought for the European title. He was always just short of a world title fight, but you can see how tough his opposition was, no easy routes back then.

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posted Sep 17, 2008

SaintsAlive21 - a Welsh father is good enough for us, we'll claim him as Welsh!!

Yes, obviously so much harder to claim a world title 'back in the day', think everyone's been agreed for a long time that we need to get rid of the alphabet titles to put some meaning back into things.

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