Titles: Welterweight champion 1933-1934 and 1934-1935 Record: 63-11-3 Born: December 19, in Hillsborough, County Down, Ireland Years active: 1923-1936 Nickname: Baby Facee To show just how unique McLarnin is you only have to look at his last two fights. He defeated Hall of Fame boxers Tony Canzoneri and Lou Ambers....... and then retired! What other fighter can you name in the history of the sport who walked away from the game at age 29 while on a winning streak like that? McLarnin enjoyed "The luck of the Irish" outside of the ring to be sure but inside of the ring he was all skill and power. His title reign would only last two years but his reign as a great boxer spanned a decade, in it he dueled 15 champions (beating 13) and defeated 5 reigning world champions in non title bouts. The Ring magazine (1996) rated McLarnin the 5th best welterweights of all time. A Irishman by birth McLarnin (one of 12 children) moved with his family to Vancouver Canada as a 3 year old child and began to box at the age of 10 after getting into fights over his newspaper corner. He often stated that he fought his first fight for $1 but his last for $60,000. Jimmy owed much of his success to his mentor/trainer Charles "Pop" Foster who guided McLarnin to early success in boxing, they would remain life long friends. For 10 years McLarnin would be counted among the worlds best fighters because of his fast hard punching hands. Jimmy was a feared right-hand puncher and known most for it, but did carry power in both fists. He had too since his right was used less and less as his career progressed through injuries. Because of the hand injury he became a great boxer instead of just a banger. Jimmy's blows were delivered with more handspeed and accuracy then any welterweights of his era. His chin was also quite sturdy as proven by only being stopped in one bout via a cut while facing the best of his era. Jimmy turned pro as a flyweight at the age of 16, he soon acquired the nickname of "Babyface" and fought the last seven years of his career at welterweight. McLarnin's first 9 fights were all fought in Canada before his trainer decided to gradually upgrade his competition by moving down the West Coast of America fighting 17 times in 1924. Among his fights in 1924 two were against Hall of Famer, Olympic Gold medal winner and future flyweight champion Fidel LaBarba. The first was a relatively easy 4 round win for McLarnin who started fast and kept LaBarba backing up throughout the contest. A rematch saw LaBarba manage a 4 round draw. A third fight with LaBarba over 10 rounds would be the final decider as to who was the better boxer. Jimmy did get the better of LaBarba in the early rounds and was able to lure the smoother boxing Fidel into a late round brawl to walk away with a deserved decision win. 1925 saw McLarnin win the biggest fight of his 3 year career as he took on former champion Pancho Villa and decisioned him over 10 fast paced rounds. In fact he posted wins over 3 champions over a six month span in 1925. He began it with the 10 round win over Villa before he knocked out future welterweight champ Jackie Fields and avenged a loss to future bantamweight champ Bud Taylor. The earlier loss to Taylor was the first in 32 fights for McLarnin. Jimmy lost his first shot at the world title when he challenged Sammy Mandell. Jimmy was hailed by the press and fans for his toughness and willingness to fight the champ, but Jimmy was just not experienced enough to take the title. McLarnin would prove to be a fast learner and within the next two years won two 10 round non-title matches from Mandell. It would still be 5 years of boxing before McLarnin was to get his next opportunity because of boxing politics of the day. The era was also known for it's ethnic matches and McLarnin dominated the great Jewish boxers of the time. While waiting for his title shot McLarnin rode roughshod over the New York lightweights and welterweights like Sid Terry, Joe Glick, Ruby Goldstein and Al Singer. It only took McLarnin 1:47 to take out highly rated lightweight Sid Terry, Goldstein did not see the third round and Singer was knocked out in the third. On his way to the welterweight title McLarnin earned fame and attention by defeating comebacking Benny Leonard and a prime Billy Petrolle twice. Jimmy did loose his first fight with Billy Petrolle in New York City in vicious fashion. Jimmy was floored in the first round and never recovered, he absorbed a brutal beating that might have ended a lesser mans career. But in 1931 McLarnin beat Petrolle twice and was never in trouble during either fight, those two fights were his only two of the year. After his two wins over Petrolle, Jimmy lost a fight against Lou Brouillard which was a blessing in disguise as legendary Benny Leonard saw the fight and made a match with McLarnin. It was a big mistake as the power of McLarnin got to the aging Leonard who could not stay away from the pursuing McLarnin wilting in the 6th round. It was a big win for McLarnin and gave him the much needed media backing to force a title bout. In 1933 McLarnin would win his first world title by beating Young Corbett II in just 2 minutes and 37 seconds. The fight took place in Los Angeles and McLarnin was supremely confident. In less than 20 second McLarnin had Corbett on the canvas via a right hook, three follow-up left hooks sent Corbett down again. Two more punches was all it took for McLarnin to knock Corbett down, and out this time. Because of his years chasing the title McLarnin avoided all boxing politics and instead of facing easy title defenses took on the best available boxer in his very next fight. It would prove costly but McLarnin will forever be linked to Barney Ross for their historic three fight series which captured the nations attention and drew huge gates. It must be counted as one of the best rivalries in any era or weightclass of boxing. The fights were also held successively which added to the hype of the fights. In the first title fight of their exciting 3 bout series, McLarnin and Ross the jr welterweight champ and former World lightweight drew 45,000 fans to the stadium. They saw a great evenly matched fight, both fighters traded knockdowns in the 9th. From there on however Ross controled the action to win the fight by split decision. In the second fight 4 months later in front of 26,000 fans McLarnin overcame Ross and a completely closed left eye from the 10th round on to win the unanimous decision. Anyone who thought McLarnin was a one dimensional puncher was surely impressed by the display of boxing Jimmy put on that night. Throughout the fight McLarnin was able to avoid the charges and flurry's of Ross using great footwork. He also managed to split the nose of Ross with one of his well timed counters. Their last meeting was probably the best and most brutal of the 3 bout series. Held before 40,000 fans and refereed by Jack Dempsey the two champs went at each other with wild abandon. Ross pulled away late taking the last 3 rounds to win a unanimous decision. The fight was up for grabs in the last round and McLarnin still claims he won this fight with his effort in the last round. The three fight series was great because in 45 rounds of action there were few which you can say either man dominated. The verdict in the final fight left a bitter taste in McLarnin's mouth but eventually he was persuaded to fight again by his manger. If you look at his career the last 16 fights on McLarnin's career spanned seven years, but because of McLarnin's huge popularity he still managed to earn a small fortune in each bout. After the last Ross bouts Jimmy only fought three more time. Yet he managed to beat Tony Canzoneri (and also loose to him once) and Lou Ambers (who was a lightweight champ at the time) two Hall of Famers in those three fights. McLarnin retired from the sport at the age of 29 as a very wealthy man thanks to his investments. After his ring career was over McLarnin opened a machine shop and would try his hand at acting, golfing and even lectured at Universities. When his old manager "Pop" Foster died in 1956 he left McLarnin his entire fortune of over $200,000 to add to McLarnin's own fortune. McLarnin is still alive today living in California, makeing him the second oldest living champion behind Max Schmeling. McLarnin is the kind of success story in and out of the ring that all boxers should aspire to be.
1923 George Ainsworth BC W 4 Young Frye BC W 4 Red Peterson BC W 4 George Ainsworth BC W 4 Mickey Gill BC W 4 Hector McDonald BC W 4 Young Wallace BC W 4 Red Peterson BC W 4 Dec 28 Mickey Gill Vancouver, BC W 6 1924 Feb 13 Frankie Sands Oakland W 4 Feb 22 Eddie Collins Oakland KO 3 Mar 5 Joe Conde Oakland KO 3 Mar 19 Frankie Sands Oakland W 4 Mar 26 Sammy Lee San Francisco W 4 Apr 2 Jimmy Griffiths Oakland KO 2 Apr 9 Frank Grandetta Oakland W 4 Apr 23 Jockey Lightner Oakland W 4 Apr 30 Joe Dillon Oakland W 4 May 2 Jimmy Griffiths Sacramento, CA W 4 May 14 Abe Gordon San Francisco KO 2 Sep 30 Benny Diaz Vernon, CA W 4 Oct 7 Frankie Dolan Vernon, CA W 4 Oct 14 Young Nationalista Vernon, CA W 4 Oct 28 Fidel LaBarba Vernon, CA W 4 Nov 11 Fidel LaBarba Vernon, CA D 4 Dec 9 Memphis Pal Moore Vernon, CA D 4 1925 Jan 13 Fidel LaBarba Los Angeles W 10 Mar 25 Teddy Silva Los Angeles W 10 Apr 5 Young Farrell Los Angeles W 6 Apr 12 Eddie Ramies Los Angeles W 6 Jun 2 Charles "Bud" Taylor Vernon, CA L 10 Jul 4 Pancho Villa Oakland W 10 Aug 10 Mickey Gill Oakland W 10 Nov 12 Jackie Fields Los Angeles KO 2 Dec 8 Charles "Bud" Taylor Vernon, CA WDQ 2 1926 Jan 12 Charles "Bud" Taylor Vernon, CA L 10 Mar 3 Joey Sangor Los Angeles KO 3 Mar 17 Johnny Farr Los Angeles L 10 Sep 8 Sidney Glick Los Angeles W 10 Oct 15 Doc Snell Vernon, CA L 10 1927 Feb 22 Tommy Cello San Francisco D 10 Apr 5 Tommy Cello Los Angeles W 10 May 6 Freeman Black San Diego KO 2 May 27 Johnny LaMar Hollywood, CA W 10 Jun 24 Lope Tenorio Hollywood, CA W 10 Sep 10 Charlie McBride San Diego KO 2 Sep 23 Don Long San Diego KO 3 Oct 18 Louis "Kid" Kaplan Chicago KO 8 Nov 23 Billy Wallace Detroit W 10 1928 Feb 24 Sid Terris New York KO 1 May 21 Sammy Mandell New York L 15 (For World Lightweight Title) Jun 21 Phil McGraw New York KO 1 Aug 2 Stanislaus Loayza New York KO 4 Nov 30 Ray Miller Detroit KO by 8 1929 Jan 11 Joe Glick New York W 10 Mar 1 Joe Glick New York KO 2 Mar 22 Ray Miller New York W 10 Oct 9 Sammy Baker New York KO 1 Nov 4 Sammy Mandell New York W 10 Dec 13 Ruby Goldstein New York KO 2 1930 Mar 1 Sammy Mandell Chicago W 10 Mar 28 Young Jack Thompson New York W 10 Sep 11 Al Singer New York KO 3 Nov 21 Billy Petrolle New York L 10 1931 May 27 Billy Petrolle New York W 10 Aug 20 Billy Petrolle New York W 10 1932 Aug 4 Lou Brouillard New York L 10 Oct 7 Benny Leonard New York KO 6 Dec 16 Sammy Fuller New York KO 8 1933 May 29 Young Corbett III Los Angeles KO 1 (Wins World Welterweight Title) 1934 May 28 Barney Ross New York L 15 (Loses World Welterweight Title) Sep 17 Barney Ross New York W 15 (Regains World Welterweight Title) 1935 May 28 Barney Ross New York L 15 (Loses World Welterweight Title) 1936 May 8 Tony Canzoneri New York L 10 Oct 5 Tony Canzoneri New York W 10 Nov 20 Lou Ambers New York W 10