RENO, Nev., July 5, 1910 (UP) - Perhaps it was a case of youth being served. Perhaps it was something else, perhaps it was a piece of luck. At any rate Jack Johnson today stands forth as the greatest heavyweight in the world, with none to dispute his title unless it is Sam Langford, fully as confident as Jeffries was yesterday that he can take the champion's measure.
The serving of youth may have been a factor in the downfall of the "hope of the white race." Psychology may have entered largely, but to come down to real facts, it is as complex as the many excuses offered for Jeffries' defeat.
There is no denying Johnson showed greater speed, strength, judgment and skill. But was it the negro's superior fighting qualities that won the battle for him - or was it a lucky punch, or was it a strange pall that seemed to come over Jeffries the moment he stepped into the ring?
Fair-minded critics will not take anything away from Johnson for his victorious battle. He fought cleanly, cleverly and with consummate skill.
But settling down to brass tacks, Jeffries lost everything he seemed to show while in training from the moment he stepped into the ring. Cold as a fish, his hands more like icicles than the great bone and gristle maulers that had sent so many men to defeat, he was nothing like the Jeffries whose training stunts made great judges of condition marvel.
Why he should have gone to pieces upon entering the ring, as Sam Berger, Jim Corbett and Billy Muldoon say he did, may come under the head of psychology, but sporting men just say Jack got Jeffries' "goat."
The "lucky punch" talk made its debut in the second round. Johnson bounced a sizzling straight left off the white man's eye. Instantly the eye began to swell. The punch did not rock Jeffries' head, but his eye was in bad shape. Jim looked dazed and stepped into the easiest of punches to avoid. His judgment of distances went to pieces, and he began to fight like a washerwoman.
To the men in his corner the answer was apparently simple. The punch on the right eye had hit the sympathetic nerve and the left eye was as useless as its mate.
"I can see two Johnsons," said Jeffries to Roger Cornell, when he took his chair at the end of the second round. "I hit at one and miss, and then the other man hits me."
From that round, it is claimed, Jeffries was partly blind, and when he lashed out it was merely by instinct. He could not see, but knew the negro was before and not behind him.
In the very first round, however, Jeffries showed evidence of having lost everything save confidence and courage. He was slow of foot, hand and eye, was blocked with ease, could not land a solid punch when he had the opportunity and in the clinches he seemed as weak as a child. Some of his efforts were pitiful.
As early as the third round, in half clinches, his attempts to prod Johnson in the stomach had every earmark of the fighter gone for good - whipped but not knowing it; hoping against hope and believing if he could land enough of the puny blows he was essaying, he could work out the chance to put in the finishing punch.
Conceded by many to be the greatest fighter the ring ever knew, Johnson confined his best efforts to clinches, whipping up nasty uppercuts with his right or crossing snappy left hooks with his left. With these he did great damage when Jeffries could not avoid them. At other battles, notably his last with Corbett, Jeffries showed he could lay his head against hard punches in or out of action. With Johnson, Jeffries showed the speed and judgment of a truck horse. He could not get away from a slow hook and the uppercut generally found its mark.
Only twice in the battle did Jeffries show any sign of being dangerous and that was when he sent two successive smashes to the stomach.
Both hurt, bringing grunts from the negro, but the black man's head was clear and whatever damage the punches may have inflicted was quickly shaken off.
The finish was most dramatic. At the end of the fourteenth the crowd murmured, "Jeff's gone." Johnson had battered him unmercifully. The big fellow apparently could not see. Every lead the black man made found its billet. The one time grizzly found the chair with difficulty, and when he came out for the fifteenth and final round it was plain he could not travel much farther.
He groped about, only to fall afoul of the negro's fists. Rights and lefts from every angle found a lodging place, and the giant toppled to the floor. Only instinct brought him to his feet after the timekeeper had shrieked "Eight."
Right into the teeth of the storm he waded, only to be buffeted with a bewildering mass of punches until he rocked like a ship in a storm. Then there crashed against his jaw a straight left and a right upper cut, both terrific, and Jim once more toppled to the floor, this time half way outside the ropes.
His battered mouth spurted little streams of blood, from his nose emerged a thick crimson stream; his right eye was closed, his left eye partially, his left cheek bone was cut, and there was a gash in his forehead.
He was a pitiful sight, but with the little strength left in him he held himself together and refused to be counted out on his back. His indomitable courage held him up, but he could not regain his feet, and the mob shrieked, "Get up, Jim!"
His seconds, a few feet away, tried to help him to rise. The timekeeper was tolling off the seconds. How far he had gone is a question. That he was out and could never have gained his feet but for his seconds cannot be denied. At any rate he did regain his feet, and staggered toward Johnson, who, apparently believing the battle over, was heading for his corner. His seconds sounded a warning, and Johnson returned to the fray, but, after lightly cuffing the white man a few times, shoved him to the floor. Rickard shoved Johnson to his corner and instructed Jeffries' seconds, who had jumped into the ring, to carry him away.
A few seconds after the battle, Rickard said Jeffries was out when he was knocked down the second time, and that Johnson was given the decision on a fair knockout. Later he said he awarded the battle to Johnson because Jeffries' seconds had attempted to assist him to arise.
Some claim the timekeeper actually counted "ten" after the second knockdown, but Harting maintains he did not. That, however, is neither here nor there. Jeffries was whipped and Johnson gets credit for a knockout whether Geo. Harting, timekeeper, counted one or one million.