"Great White Hope"
Jess Willard's professional boxing career spanned over 12 years, from 1911 to 1923. With a total of 34 fights, he won 25, lost 7, drew 2, and had 0 no-contests. Willard had an impressive 20 knockout wins and 0 title defense, and in this article, we will look at his career in detail.
Willard's first professional boxing fight was against Lewis Fink at the age of 29 on February 15, 1911. Unfortunately, Willard lost the fight via 10 round DQ. However, he went on to win six consecutive fights after this loss, with four wins via stoppage. Some of Willard's notable victories include wins over George Rodel, George Davis, Jack Reed, Jack Leon, Dan Daly, Sailor White, and Frank Bauer.
In 1915, Jess Willard faced off against the great Jack Johnson in Havana, Cuba, for the heavyweight title. Johnson had held the title for six years, and many believed that Willard would be an easy opponent. However, the fight lasted 26 rounds, with Willard ultimately winning via knockout, becoming the new heavyweight champion. The fight was controversial because some claimed that Johnson had thrown the fight. However, this did not stop Willard from becoming a boxing legend.
Willard's reign as champion was short-lived, as he was knocked out by another boxing legend, Jack Dempsey, in 1919. He then suffered another knockout loss against Luis Angel Firpo in his last professional fight non-title bout against on July 12, 1923. Overall, Willard lost seven fights in his professional boxing career, which all occurred in non-title bouts. He was stopped three times and lost four times via decision.
Jess Willard is remembered today mostly for his impressive victory over Jack Johnson to win the heavyweight title. Although he lost the title in his next fight against Jack Dempsey, that fight was equally as legendary.
Willard's induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003 stands as a testament to his role in the history of boxing. Willard retired from professional boxing with hard-earned records of 25-7-2, including 20 knockout wins and three losses via knockout.
In summary, Jess Willard was one of the greatest boxers of his time, a heavyweight champion who defeated other legends of the sport but lost his title in the next fight. This boxer's career has been remembered and celebrated even over eighty years after his last fight, and his legacy continues to inspire younger boxers today.
Jess Willard Fight Record
|34||Jul 12, 1923||41||Luis Angel Firpo||Loss||KO8|
|33||May 12, 1923||41||Floyd Johnson||Win||TKO11|
|32||Jul 4, 1919||37||Jack Dempsey||Loss||RTD3|
|31||Mar 25, 1916||34||Frank Moran||Win||NWS|
|30||Apr 5, 1915||33||Jack Johnson||Win||KO26|
|29||Apr 28, 1914||32||George Rodel||Win||KO6|
|28||Apr 13, 1914||32||Dan Daly||Win||KO9|
|27||Mar 27, 1914||32||Tom McMahon||Loss||NWS|
|26||Dec 29, 1913||32||George Rodel||Win||KO9|
|25||Dec 12, 1913||31||George Davis||Win||KO2|
|24||Dec 3, 1913||31||Carl Morris||Win||NWS|
|23||Nov 24, 1913||31||Jack Reed||Win||TKO2|
|22||Nov 17, 1913||31||George Rodel||Loss||NWS|
|21||Aug 22, 1913||31||Bull Young||Win||KO11|
|20||Jul 4, 1913||31||Al Williams||Win||TKO8|
|19||Jun 27, 1913||31||Charlie Miller||Draw||PTS|
|18||May 20, 1913||31||Gunboat Smith||Loss||PTS|
|17||Mar 5, 1913||31||Jack Leon||Win||KO4|
|16||Jan 22, 1913||31||Frank Bauer||Win||TKO5|
|15||Dec 27, 1912||30||Soldier Kearns||Win||KO8|
|14||Dec 2, 1912||30||Sailor White||Win||KO1|
|13||Aug 19, 1912||30||Luther McCarty||Draw||NWS|
|12||Jul 29, 1912||30||Arthur Pelkey||Win||NWS|
|11||Jul 2, 1912||30||Bull Young||Win||KO5|
|10||May 29, 1912||30||Frank Bauer||Win||TKO3|
|9||May 22, 1912||30||Bull Young||Win||KO6|
|8||Oct 9, 1911||29||Joe Cox||Loss||TKO5|
|7||Aug 10, 1911||29||Mike McKimminsky||Win||PTS|
|6||Jul 4, 1911||29||Frank Lyons||Win||PTS|
|5||May 15, 1911||29||William Schiller||Win||KO4|
|4||Apr 14, 1911||29||Al Mandino||Win||KO4|
|3||Mar 24, 1911||29||Lewis Fink||Win||KO3|
|2||Mar 7, 1911||29||Ed Burke||Win||KO3|
|1||Feb 15, 1911||29||Lewis Fink||Loss||DQ|