Kissing the Canvas to Victory ...
The 2004 version had 12 fighters on the card to determine
who was the best heavyweight of the year. While that was a drop
from last year, the promoter claims the bouts were of a higher
quality. Instead of a lot of quick KO's, the fights went longer
with some going to the judge's cards.
The first round started with Gene Tunney (Jim Bell) and Bob
Fitzsimmons (Stan Buck) going at it. This fight went into the
last round before Tunney got a TKO. Next up were Joe Frazier
(Tim Tilch) and Cleveland Williams (Dennis Nicholson). In the
first round Williams kocked Frazier down and just beat him up.
During the break between rounds Friazier decided to go all out.
He then reversed the momentum and beat the hell out of Williams
and in two minutes forced the ref to stop the fight. The third
fight of the round saw Sam Langford (Derek Landell) and Sonny
Liston (Christian Motta) hook up. This fight went back and forth
with Liston knocking down Langford in the 2nd, but Langford came
back to dominate the 3rd and 4th rounds. In the 5th Liston again
knocked down Langford and when he again knocked down Langford
in the 6th the ref stopped it. The last fight of the round saw
Rocky Marciano (Marshall Collins) and George Foreman (Alex Vye)
go at it. Marciano controlled the fight for the most part but
it was still up in the air as the last round began. Marciano
dominated the round though and the ref stepped in to stop the
fight before it went the distance. There was no controversy though
and Rocky was leading comfortably on all three cards.
The quarter-finals started with Peter Jackson (defending champion
Steven May) going against Sonny Liston. This fight was all Jackson
as he easily won the first two rounds. In the 3rd, both fighters
went for the KO and Jackson continued the beating until the ref
stopped the fight at the 1:47 mark. The next fight was Jack Johnson
(Dan Dolan) against Joe Frazier. Frazier won the first round,
knocking down Johnson but Johnson won the next two. The 4th and
5th rounds were in Frazier's favor and then Frazier took control
in the 6th, forcing a tko with one second left. The third fight
of the round saw Jim Jefferies (Jeremy Billones) go against Rocky
Marciano. Marciano dominated the first three rounds and looked
to have an easy win. But the Jefferies took the next two and
was pushing Rocky. Then in the 6th, Marciano knocked down Jefferies
and used him as a punching bag. He finished the job in the 7th
winning by TKO late in the round. The last fight of the round
saw top seeded Jack Dempsey (Ray Stakenas) go against Gene Tunney.
Dempsey was a prohibitive favorite but could history repeat itself?
It was a very even fight as Dempsey could not get his power game
going save for a knock down in the 2nd, but Tunney balanced it
out with a knock down of his own in the 6th. After the last bell
both fighters celebrated, thinking they had won. Tunney's scores
were 77-77-77, Dempsey's scores were 77-77-76, a majority draw!
On to overtime. In the 9th round a late flurry by Tunney gave
him the round and the fight. It was the upset of the tournament
as the top seed goes down.
The semi-final started with Peter Jackson and Joe Frazier
going at it. This was all Frazier. He dominated the first round,
knocked down Jackson in the second, and forced the ref to stop
the fight at the 1:20 mark of the third. The other fight proved
to be the most controversial of the tournament. Rocky Marciano
and Gene Tunney hooked up for a great fight. Tunney controlled
the first half of the contest, winning the 2nd round and having
an edge in the other three. In the 5th round Marciano cut Tunney
over the left eye but Tunney came back and had the edge in the
round. Rocky then had a big round in the 7th and was just just
able to win the 8th. As the fighters waited for the results from
the judges it looked like there could be another OT. The results
from the judges, 77-75, 79-75, 77-75 Marciano! Every round that
Tunney had the advantage was either tied or went to Marciano.
The crowd was not happy with the result but Marciano was going
That provided a final of Frazier vs Marciano. The over/under
in Vegas on the length of the 15 round fight was 3 and they were
right. As he had done in his previous fight. Smokin' Joe came
out and used Marciano as a punching bag. The second round also
went Frazier's way. Marciano made a brief comeback in the 3rd
but Frazier countered and at 2:19 of the 3rd the ref stepped
in and stopped the fight. Frazier was the WBC champion.
Congratulations to Tim Tilch on winning the tournament. Outside
of the first round of his first match Frazier was never in trouble.
Jim Bell gets special mention for his play. He upset the #1 seed
in the second round and with some breaks from the judges could
have been in the final. Hope to see more pugilists next year.