CHICAGO -- Gene Tunney held his world's heavyweight championship Friday by proved right of conquest, but his second battle with Jack Dempsey Thursday night, like most important fights of recent years, left the backers of the loser with a great big "if" to calve their wounds.
Tunney won decisively on the basis of points; he displayed power and stamina which many doubted that he possessed. But in the 10-round fight there was a torrid seventh round in which Dempsey, showing for a moment that great attack of old which earned him the title of the "Manassa Mauler", crashed rights and lefts through the champion's defense and drove Tunney to the canvas for longer than the 10 seconds which normally constitutes a knockout.
But under the rules of "boxing exhibitions" in Chicago, the refree cannot begin to count a fighter who is down until the opponent has withdrawn to a neutral corner. For or three seconds or more after Tunney went down, Dempsey failed to go to a neutral corner and the refree fallled to count.
Tunney Takes Rest
On the other hand, Tunney seemed to be deliberately waiting for the count to get the benefit of a moment's rest, and had Dempsey gone Immediately to the corner, the champion might still have been able to get his feet before the fatal "ten."
Leo Flnn, Dempsey's manager, threatened to contest the decision which was given to Tunney after 10 round fight. He said Tunney was on the canvas for 15 seconds. Dempsey, however, was heard to say it was "Just one of the breaks in the game."
At any rate, for one brief moment In that seventh round Dempsey stood nearer the top of the come-back than any other dethroned heavyweight champion has reached. Only Tunney's covering and dancing and careful steps backward around the ring for the rest of the round saved him. But then, if Dempsey had been the Dempsey of Toledo he would have crashed through for another finishing blow.
Jack's Rally Unexpected
The Dempsey rally in the seventh round came unexpectedly, after the 33-year-old former champion had failed miserably to show his old-time form.
The first five rounds were almost a replica of the first five at Philadelphia last year, when Tunney won title. There were few damaging blows in the first two rounds. In the third, Dempsey hit Gene with what appeared to be low blows three times in succession, and a moment later followed with two more. Jack was playing for the body and Gene was pounding his opponent's face.
In the fourth Dempsey again seemed to be hitting low, and once he was cautioned for butting. Tunney may have been angered by what he considered fouls; at any rate, he opened up on the former champion and landed two hard rights which shook Dempsey hard and three more, straight to the jaw, which left Jack Groggy. He was hanging on at the bell.
By the fifth, Dempsey was slowing up. He landed a few good blows but failed to follow up. Tunney landing regularly.
Tunney Is Cautious
Dempsey took the sixth round by landing freely to Gene's head and body. Tunney, a safe margin of victorious rounds behind him, was playing a cautious game.
Then came the vicious seventh, in which a championship almost changed hands.
As the eighth started, Dempsey tried vainly to follow up his advantage and Tunney danced out of range. In mid-round, however, Gene dropped him with a left to the jaw. Dempsey did not wait for the count, but when he bobbed up he was slower, and Tunney landed freely.
They hammered each other hard the ninth, a ferocious round. Tunney kept playing for Jack's face and had it cut and bleeding, and Dempsey was shaky as the round ended.
Both Wild In 10th
Both plajed for a knockout in the tenth, swinging wildly. Dempsey was tiredand groggy and grew weaker as the round progressed. Just at the end, Tunney rocked Jack with two hard rights to the jaw.
Another round or two could hardly have failed to end with Dempsey Knocked out.
Tunney had a clear majority of founds in the opinion of virtually all observers, though Flynn claimed six lor Dempsey.
But just as Jack Sharkey's followers had the cry of 'foul" to raise alter his fight with Dempsey in New York, so those who picked Dempsey this time could point to the seventh round knockdown and claim some kind of a moral victory for Jack.