The Long Count Fight

The Long Count Fight

The Battle Of The Long Count was the boxing rematch between world Heavyweight champion Gene Tunney and former champion Jack Dempsey, held on September 22, 1927, at Soldier Field in Chicago. Just 364 days before, on September 23, 1926, Tunney had beaten Dempsey by a ten round unanimous decision to lift the world Heavyweight title, in Philadelphia. The first fight between Tunney and Dempsey had been moved out of Chicago because Dempsey had learned that Al Capone was a big fan of his, and he did not want Capone to be involved in the fight.Fact|date=August 2007

Despite the fact that Tunney had won the first fight by a wide margin on the scorecards, the rematch created much interest. Dempsey was one of the so called "big five" sports legends of the 1920s, and it was widely rumored that he had refused to participate in the military during World War I. (Actually, he had attempted to enlist in the Army but had been turned down.) Tunney, who enjoyed literature and the arts, was a former member of the United States Marine Corps. His nickname was "The Fighting Marine".

The fight took place under new rules regarding knockdowns: the fallen fighter would have 10 seconds to rise to his feet under his own power, after his opponent moved to a neutral corner ("i.e.", one with no trainers). The new rule, which was not yet universal, was asked to be put into use during the fight by the Dempsey camp, who had requested it during negotiations. [citeweb | url = | title = Jack Dempsey - The Idol of Fistiana by Nat Fleischer] Dempsey, in the final days of training prior to the rematch, apparently ignored the setting of these new rules. Dempsey later joined the United States Coast Guard, and he and Tunney became good friends who visited each other frequently. Tunney and Dempsey are both members of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

The Fight

Tunney was, by most accounts, dominating the fight from rounds one to six, using his familiar style of boxing from a distance while looking for openings and, at the same time, building a points lead. Up until the end of round six, nothing indicated this fight would be far different from their original meeting.

In round seven, however, the 104,000cite web | url = | title = The Time Tunnel: 75th Anniversary of "The Long Count"] in attendance witnessed a moment that would live on in boxing history. With Tunney trapped against the ropes and near a corner, Dempsey unleashed a combination of punches that floored the champion. Two rights and two lefts landed on Tunney's chin and staggered him, and four more punches deposited him on the canvas. Dizzy and disoriented, Tunney grabbed on to the ring's top rope with his left hand. Dempsey, who used to stand over opponents and rush right back at them after they got up, looked down on Tunney. Referee Dave Barry ordered Dempsey into a neutral corner to no avail; Dempsey just stood there, observing his opponent. This gave Tunney precious seconds in which he recuperated. By the time Dempsey finally walked to a neutral corner, Tunney had been down for around 3 to 7 seconds. Barry could not start to count on Tunney until Dempsey reached the neutral corner, but he was still able to count to nine before Tunney got up. Some believe that if Dempsey responded to the referee's orders in time, he would have likely regained the world Heavyweight crown with a seventh round knockout of Tunney. The validity of this has been debated even to this day. Experts say Tunney lay on the canvas between 13 and 16 seconds. In the fight film, a clock was installed that took Tunney's time on the floor and it marked 13 seconds from the moment he fell until he got up. Because of this, it became known as "The Long Count Fight".

By the eighth round, Tunney had resumed his boxing from a distance, and he dropped Dempsey for a brief moment. It's notable that this time, the referee started counting right away, before Tunney had moved to a neutral corner. Tunney was then dominant, and went on to retain the world title by a unanimous decision.


Controversy over the match promptly erupted. A significant factor in prolonging the controversy was that at the time, U.S. law prohibited the transportation of boxing match movies across state lines (the law had been passed in 1912 in reaction to riots that broke out after Jack Johnson's 1910 victory over James J. Jeffries [Tim Goodman, "Boxing champ faced worst adversary outside the ring—racism". "San Francisco Chronicle, January 17, 2005. (] ). As a result, almost nobody was able to see the counts. Once the law was repealed, and it became possible for many to see and judge the fallen fighters' alertness (particularly Tunney's), the controversy dwindled.

To this day, however, boxing fans argue whether Dempsey or Tunney would have won the fight had the referee begun counting each time at the appropriate point. Several factors drive this controversy:
#Tunney's extensive period of recuperation on the canvas.
#Later in the fight when Dempsey was knocked down, the referee began counting immediately and did not make sure that Tunney had gone to a neutral corner.
#The size of the boxing ring (20 foot ringcite web | url = | title = The Time Tunnel: 75th Anniversary of "The Long Count"] ), which favored boxers with skilled footwork like Tunney. Dempsey normally fought in a 16 foot ring that offered less space to his opponent.


External links

* [ Long Count Information]

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