Titles: Heavyweight champion 1899-1905 Record: 18-1-2 Born: May 15, 1875 in Carroll, Ohio (USA) Years active: 1896-1910 Nickname: The Boilermaker If it were not for the one comeback loss to Jack Johnson the world would recognize two undefeated heavyweight champions instead of just Marciano. The comeback is perhaps the only mistake Jeffries ever made in his boxing career. Jeffries allowed himself to be lured out of retirement by a frantic white establishment looking for a fighter who could defeat the hated Jack Johnson. In his prime Jeffries weighed about 220 pounds and at the time stood a imposing 6 foot 2 inches tall. Jeffries was also one of the first fighters to fight out of a crouch which actually took away his height advantage. Jeffries was taught how to fight by former middleweight and welterweight champion Tommy Ryan and kept his left arm extended at all times while holding his right hand back to cover his face. The left hook was generally regarded as his best and also his finishing punch. Jeffries was born to a Methodist preacher in Carroll, Ohio. At the age of seven the family moved to California where a young Jeffries excelled in sports like wrestling, boxing and track. At the age of 16 Jeffries stopped going to school and started to work at a boiler making factory where he earned his nickname of "The Boilermaker". Jeffries was quickly thrown in against the best fighters of his time and after 5 knockout wins held the very talented Joe Choynski and Gus Ruhlin to draws in 20 round bouts in his next two bouts. These impressive fights got Jeffries invited to the training camp of heavyweight champion James Corbett. It was brutal for a still raw Jeffries as the more experienced Corbett used his footwork to outpunch and beat up on the bigger but less experienced man. Jeffries stayed on however and took a lot of punishment for it, during these sparring sessions Jeffries swore he would get back at Corbett in the future. After Jeffries left camp he defeated a aging and sickly Peter Jackson in 3 one sided rounds, still it earned him national recognition. A fight with Tom Sharkey followed which went 20 hard rounds. Jeffries outweighed Sharkey by 35 pounds and generally had the best of every round but could not knock the tough Sharkey out. These two wins propelled Jeffries to a title fight against legendary Bob Fitzsimmons. Once again the size of Jeffries was the difference as he pushed and shoved the smaller Fitzsimmons all over the ring, while busting up Bob with a steady jab. After a second round knockdown of Fitzsimmons it was all to apparent who would win the fight. A rematch with Sharkey was much thought than expected and went 25 rounds. At the end Jeffries was bleeding from the mouth and ear while Sharkey's ear was so swollen that Jeffries commented that it was like hitting a wet sponge. Both fought on even terms until Jeffries did more in the late rounds to earn the decision win. Some thought Sharkey had done enough to win however. Looking for a soft touch after the tough fight with Sharkey, Jeffries knocked out Jack Finnegan 35 seconds into the fight in his next bout. Now a fight with James Corbett was made, and Jeffries was looking for revenge of those sparring sessions. They met in Coney Island, New York in 1900 and in the first 20 rounds it looked as if Jeffries was still nothing more than a sparring partner for Corbett. The footwork was again baffling Jeffries and Corbett still had a speed advantage even at the age of 34. Corbett would fatigue after the 20th round however and Jeffries began to connect with is left hook and in the 23rd round Corbett was caught with a straight left followed by a left hook to the jaw. Corbett could not beat the count and Jeffries had his revenge. Jeffries gave Fitzsimmons a rematch which almost cost him the title. Fitzsimmons learned well from his mistakes and used the same movement that Corbett used to confuse Jeffries. At the end of 5 rounds Jeffries had a cut under his right eye, a bloody nose and a cut mouth. Jeffries had a fighting heart however and a straight right hand that landed above the heart of Fitzsimmons turned the tide. Fitzsimmons battled back but the punch had done a lot of damage. In the eight round Jeffries landed a hook to the stomach followed by a left hook to the jaw to drop Fitzsimmons for the count. A rematch with Corbett was granted and again Corbett fought well early but his age and the size of Jeffries again proved too much. In the 10th round Jeffries broke 2 of Corbett's ribs and finished of the old warrior. A exhibition tour of the country was followed by a retirement announcement. Jeffries had retired as a undefeated heavyweight champion, Jeffries had made 7 defenses of his title which he won after only 13 bouts as a pro. He should have stayed retired but money and public pressure from white people to defeat the new black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson proved too much for Jeffries to resist. Early rumors that the fight was fixed for Jeffries proved incredibly wrong when Johnson utterly and completely destroyed Jeffries. After 6 years of retirement and at the age of 35 Jeffries was no match for the Johnson who was in his prime. Still credit must be given to Jeffries who did not dog it, lost over 100 pounds and came into the fight in very good condition considering his age. Still Johnson administered a painful beating of Jeffries and did not loose a round, he at times toyed with his rival in a almost shameful fashion. After 15 one sided rounds Johnson knocked Jeffries out mercifully ending the slaughter. Jeffries returned home to Burbank California to live in retirement. The stock market crash of 1929 forced Jeffries into bankruptcy however. Jeffries turned to touring with a theater company and turned his barn into a gym and for use in amateur boxing tournaments, to earn money. After his wife of 37 years died in a car accident Jeffries was never the same and sank into a deep depression, 5 years later he suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed down one side. The one thing he still loved to do was talk boxing with reporters and told them the one mistake he made was to comeback and fight Jack Johnson. He also maintained that the fight with Johnson would have been much closer had they fought in his prime, he did not state that he would have beaten Johnson however. Jeffries was 77 when he died of a heart attack.
1896 Jan Hank Griffin Los Angeles, Ca KO 14 Feb Jim Barber Los Angeles, Ca KO 2 Jul 2 Dan Long San Francisco, Ca KO 2 1897 Apr 9 Theodore Van Buskirk San Francisco, Ca KO 2 May 19 Henry Baker San Francisco, Ca KO 9 Jul 17 Gus Ruhlin San Francisco, Ca D 20 Nov 30 Joe Choynski San Francisco, Ca D 20 1898 Feb 28 Joe Goddard Los Angeles, Ca KO 4 Mar 22 Peter Jackson San Francisco, Ca KO 3 Apr 22 Pete Everett San Francisco, Ca KO 3 May 6 Tom Sharkey San Francisco, Ca W 20 Aug 5 Bob Armstrong New York, NY W 10 1899 Jun 9 Bob Fitzsimmons Brooklyn, NY KO 11 -Won Heavyweight championship of the World Nov 3 Tom Sharkey Brooklyn, NY W 25 -Heavyweight Championship of the World 1900 Apr 6 Jack Finnegan Detroit, Mi KO 1 -Heavyweight Championship of the World May 11 Jim Corbett Brooklyn, NY KO 23 -Heavyweight Championship of the World 1901 Nov 15 Gus Ruhlin San Francisco, Ca KO 5 -Heavyweight Championship of the World 1902 Jul 25 Bob Fitzsimmons San Francisco, Ca KO 8 -Heavyweight Championship of the World 1903 Aug 14 Jim Corbett San Francisco, Ca KO 10 -Heavyweight Championship of the World 1904 Aug 26 Jack Munroe San Francisco, Ca KO 2 -Heavyweight Championship of the World 1910 Jul 4 Jack Johnson Reno, Nv TKOby 15 -Heavyweight Championship of the World