September 17, 1927
When two amateur fighters faced each other in the boxing ring at the Cudahy Athletic Club in Bell, each expected to emerge victorious…they could never have imagined that one of them would die.
The young pugilists had been promised two dollars apiece by fight promoter and referee, A. De Weese. Harold Williams, seventeen, of 580 Wilcox Avenue, Bell, was upright for barely two minutes before he was knocked to the canvas three consecutive times by James Campbell, nineteen, of 4549 East Sixth Street, Los Angeles. Harold died of a brain hemorrhage at the scene.
At the coroner’s inquest Harold’s brother Loren who had witnessed the fight, stated that Harold was given a “long count” (longer than ten seconds) by referee De Weese and so was allowed to continue fighting when he should have been counted out. De Weese and Campbell were arrested for manslaughter and each held on $10,000 (119,712.07 USD 2007 dollars) bail. Charges against them would be dismissed when Municipal Judge Baird ruled that there had been no violation of the California Penal Code.
Harold’s may be one of the saddest long counts, but the most famous long count in boxing history is still five days in the future.
The much anticipated rematch between defending heavyweight champion Gene Tunney, the “Fighting Marine”, and former champion Jack Dempsey, the “Manassa Mauler”, will be held at Solider Field in Chicago on September 26, 1927. Tunney will dominate for the first six rounds, but during the seventh round he will find himself in a corner being pummeled by a savage combination of punches that will drive him to the floor.
Referee Dave Barry ordered Dempsey to return to a neutral corner, but the former champ ignored him for approximately nine seconds. Those few seconds would prove crucial. According to the rules the referee was not allowed to begin the count until Dempsey had returned to a neutral corner. It is very likely that Dempsey’s delay cost him the championship. Tunney had thirteen to sixteen seconds to recover during the long count.
Tunney dropped Dempsey briefly during the eighth round – he retained his title and retired undefeated.
Dempsey retired after his bout with Tunney and opened a restaurant in New York City.