Today in history: Sanchez dethrones Lopez

February 2, 2020

On this day, 2 February 1892 (Exactly 128 years ago today), the longest boxing match under modern rules took place in Nameoki, Illinois, between Harry Sharpe and Frank Crosby.

Fighting for the Missouri Lightweight Championship, the two fighters, Harry Sharpe and Frank Crosby, went head to head for 77 rounds, the bout lasting an unprecedented total of five hours and five minutes.

To this day, it is the longest fight in the sport’s modern history.

Boxing has existed under many different guises for well over two millennia. Minoan wall paintings from around 1000 BC depict a form of early boxing, and there is thought to have been forms of the sport in both the Roman and Greek civilisations.

Boxing appears to have surfaced in Britain during the 16th century. An undefined prototype of the sport began to be seen in taverns and circuses, with opponents brawling for small wagers. This was the forerunner of prizefighting.

Attempts were made to codify the sport in the 18th century, with Jack Broughton leading the way. The successful heavyweight bare-knuckle fighter was keen to introduce an element of protection for the boxers, and so drew up a set of seven safety-minded rules.

The rules, which included the provision of a “time-out” for a seriously injured fighter, were introduced at Broughton’s own amphitheatre in the mid-1740s. They would eventually be adapted into the London Prize Ring Rules, the laws that governed bare-knuckle boxing until the mid-19th century.

Boxing became the sport that it is today with the introduction of the Marquess of Queensbury Rules in 1867.

Devised by the Welshman John Chambers, but named after their public endorser John Douglas, the 9th Marquess of Queensbury, the rules were the first to stipulate that combatants wear gloves. Bare-knuckle fighting gradually lost popularity and the Queensbury rules, with their emphasis on fair play, sportsmanship, and discouragement of brawling, were quickly embraced throughout the sport.

They were adopted in America and Canada in 1889.

In the earliest forms of the rules, there was no maximum length for a fight, a match being deemed over only when one fighter could no longer compete. This led to some incredibly long fights, culminating in Sharpe and Crosby’s epic battle of 1892.

The fight was eventually won by the exhausted Sharpe, one round after both fighters had been knocked to the mat. It ended as Crosby hit his head while falling once again, allowing for the grateful Sharpe to finish him off. Both fighters had outlasted the referee, who 12 rounds from the eventual end succumbed to exhaustion and was forced to retire.

Sharpe won $500 for his troubles, but was also hit with an 11-month jail sentence for violating a prizefighting code.

In the 20th century, rule changes were implemented that placed limitations on fight length. Fifteen rounds of three minutes was the norm in professional boxing until the 1980s, when, for safety reasons, the maximum fight length was reduced to twelve rounds, where it stands today.

On this day 2 February 1918 (Exactly 102 years ago today) First recognized heavyweight champion of gloved boxing, John L. Sullivan died at the age of 59 at his home in Abington, Massachusetts, supposedly from heart disease.

On this day 2 February 1980 (Exactly 40 years ago today) Mexican boxer Salvador Sánchez dethroned Danny “Little Red” Lopez as WBC world featherweight champion with a 13th-round TKO in Phoenix, Arizona. It was Lopez champion since November 1976, 8th defence.

 

STORIES: GEORGE MAHAMAH


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