Kissing the Canvas to Victory ...
The event saw a slight 6% increase in participation from 2001's
As former champions, Bruno Passacantando and Terry Coleman,
had byes in the first round. Sam Langford (Ken Gutermuth) crushed
Peter Jackson (Greg Schmittgens) in the first round. Joe Frazier
(Chris Palermo) and Mike Tyson (Dennis Nicholson) was the fight
that people thought would end in the first round but actually
went four when Frazier got a TKO with 14 seconds left. Jack Johnson
(Ray Stakenas) toyed with Ezzard Charles (Arthur Davis) for five
rounds before putting him away with 19 seconds left in the 6th.
This would be a recurring theme for Johnson that would come back
to haunt him. James Jefferies (Derek Landel) dominated Jack Dempsey
(Debbie Garver), winning every round on the way to a unanimous
decision. Tommy Burns (Ken Samuel) had the upset of the round
when he crushed Rocky Marciano (Mike Destro) by winning a unanimous
decision, losing only one round. The fight of the round though
was between Sonny Liston (Jim Bell) and Gene Tunney (Wendy Demarco).
Tunney went into the last round with a safe lead so Liston came
out and knocked Tunney all over the ring. Both fighters waited
for the judges decision. Judge 1 said 75-73 Tunney, judge 2 had
it 75-75, and the referee had it 75-75! A majority draw! Since
this is a single elimination tournament, both fighters went back
to their corners for overtime. Liston kept his momentum and won
the round 10-9 to advance.
After some great fights in the first round, the second was
a bit of a disappointment. Joe Frazier took apart Sam Langford
with a first round TKO with 26 seconds left in the round. Jack
Johnson finished off Sonny Liston with a TKO in the 3rd, Liston
looked tired after his overtime fight. James Jefferies took out
Joe Jennette (Bruno Passacantando) with a TKO in the 6th. Max
Schmelling (Terry Coleman) took out the upset kid, Tommy Burns,
when Burns couldn't answer the bell for the 7th round.
The semi-finals saw two fights go the distance. In the first,
Frazier took on Jefferies. Although Jefferies won the first four
rounds, Frazier won the 5th decisively, but hurt his hand in
the process. He was able to land punches in the rest of the fight
but there was no weight behind them as Jefferies was able to
win a unanimous decision. The second semi saw Johnson and Schmelling
go at it for eight rounds. The first four were even with Johnson
winning the next two. Going into the 7th Schmelling needed something
big. He won the 7th outright and had the edge in the 8th. Would
it be enough? The first judge saw it 77-76 Schmelling. The second
judge saw it 78-75 Johnson. The referee saw it 77-76 Johnson!
Johnson wins a split decision by one point.
The final had Johnson the big favorite over Jefferies, and
the beginning of the fight showed why. Johnson picked up round
after round giving a clinic in boxing. He stayed away from Jefferies
and just picked away, scoring at will. Then in the 8th round,
Johnson came out swinging. He wanted to finish off Jefferies
and was doing just so. Then Johnson missed and was caught off
balance. Jefferies took advantage and landed a shot right on
the chin. Johnson was down and not moving. 8-9-10 and he was
out! Jim Jefferies was the 2002 WBC Title Bout champion.
Congratulations to Derek Landel for winning the tournament.
He had the 11th pick in the draft and was able to take out Dempsey,
Frazier, and Johnson to win the event. Ray Stakanes took second
but was seen leaving the arena shaking his head saying "why
did I go for the knockout"?