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Alternate universe: Gene Tunney

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  • Alternate universe: Gene Tunney

    In an alternate universe where Tunney had never fought or defeated Dempsey, how would his legacy be remembered? Would he still become heavyweight champion? Would Wills have gotten his shot? Where would Gene be remembered in the pantheon of lightheavy weight greats? How much did/does his wins over Dempsey impact his overall legacy?
    Willie Pep 229 likes this.

  • #2
    Originally posted by JAB5239 View Post
    In an alternate universe where Tunney had never fought or defeated Dempsey, how would his legacy be remembered? Would he still become heavyweight champion? Would Wills have gotten his shot? Where would Gene be remembered in the pantheon of lightheavy weight greats? How much did/does his wins over Dempsey impact his overall legacy?
    Not sure I understand the rules . . . But if Tunney just stays a LHW champion he would today be a guy we know about but the casuals don't.

    I think Wills still gets ignored . . . All the other players are still in place, Kearns, Rickard, and the KKK - so I don't see 1926 turning out any different regarding ignoring Wills.

    Guessing, the '26 comeback would probably have been Sharkey.

    It wasn't as though the crowd was demanding a Tunney fight, Rickard had to push Tunney on the public. It was all about Dempsey's comeback.

    The only fight the public was demanding ironically was the one they weren't going to get.

    I still say as always 'inside the ring' was never the issue why the fight didn't happen.

    It was not about Tunney, it was about Wills being black.
    Last edited by Willie Pep 229; 11-25-2021, 08:36 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Willie Pep 229 View Post

      Not sure I understand the rules . . . But if Tunney just stays a LHW champion he would today be a guy we know about but the casuals don't.

      I think Wills still gets ignored . . . All the other players are still in place, Kearns, Rickard, and the KKK - so I don't see 1926 turning put any different regarding ignoring Wills.

      Guessing, the '26 comeback would probably have been Sharkey.

      I wasn't as though the crowd was demanding a Tunney fight, Rickard had to push Tunney
      Maybe Sharkey gets the fight and wins?

      If this happened would it effect Tunneys standing at 175?
      Last edited by JAB5239; 11-25-2021, 08:33 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by JAB5239 View Post

        Maybe Sharkey gets the fight and wins?

        If this happened would it effect Tunneys standing at 175?
        Absolutely does, but not drastically IMO.

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        • #5
          The deck was totally stacked regarding Wills. Without Tunney, Dempsey fights Sharkey, possibly twice. I don’t think he had the fortitude to beat Dempsey. Once Dempsey turned up his attack to Sharkeys body he folded. Numerous articles were written at the time by prominent writers of Sharkey being “yellow”. Instead of working out a way to win through adversity he choose to check out by claiming foul. I envision two bouts with Sharkey and Dempsey calls it a career retiring as champion.

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          • #6
            - -Obvious Rickard had the greatest respect for Wills(1st #1 Ring ranked Heavy in History) and was willing to make the Dempsey fight once the political storms had passed outlawing boxing or otherwise dictating impossible criteria for any relevant promoter to hurdle.

            The only question is who wins? We know Jack was rusty as well as being sick in the first fight Tunney, and we also know Wills by his own performances was winding down near his career end.

            End of the day, even a lesser Dempsey vs Wills fight would be better than 90% of heavy fights in history, so there it is.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by QueensburyRules View Post
              - -Obvious Rickard had the greatest respect for Wills(1st #1 Ring ranked Heavy in History) and was willing to make the Dempsey fight once the political storms had passed outlawing boxing or otherwise dictating impossible criteria for any relevant promoter to hurdle.

              The only question is who wins? We know Jack was rusty as well as being sick in the first fight Tunney, and we also know Wills by his own performances was winding down near his career end.

              End of the day, even a lesser Dempsey vs Wills fight would be better than 90% of heavy fights in history, so there it is.
              I would have the disagree the political climate had not changed by 1926. Rickard was only willing to make the Wills fight after Dempsey lost the title to Tunney - it was just days after the first fight that Rickard announced in the newspapers that there would be a Dempsey-Wills fight in the almost new Yankee Stadium that next summer.

              Wills then proceeded to fall apart against Sharkey, Sharkey got the big fight out in the ball park.

              It was always the 'title' that stayed Rickard's hand. Rickard didn't hesitate to match Wills against Firpo and Sharkey - just the title shot was off the table.

              In regards to a political climate changing . . . It was Seltember 1926 when the KKK staged its infamous March in Washington DC marching close to 30k white sheets down Pennsylvania Avenue.

              IMHO it wasn't the political climate that changed just who held the title.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Willie Pep 229 View Post

                I would have the disagree the political climate had not changed by 1926. Rickard was only willing to make the Wills fight after Dempsey lost the title to Tunney - it was just days after the first fight that Rickard announced in the newspapers that there would be a Dempsey-Wills fight in the almost new Yankee Stadium that next summer.

                Wills then proceeded to fall apart against Sharkey, Sharkey got the big fight out in the ball park.

                It was always the 'title' that stayed Rickard's hand. Rickard didn't hesitate to match Wills against Firpo and Sharkey - just the title shot was off the table.

                In regards to a political climate changing . . . It was Seltember 1926 when the KKK staged its infamous March in Washington DC marching close to 30k white sheets down Pennsylvania Avenue.

                IMHO it wasn't the political climate that changed just who held the title.
                - -You're forgetting the Tex tourney where he's proposing the Wills/Tunney elimination tourney for the right to challenge Dempsey. Had Wills taken that fight and won, it would've been Wills vs rusty Jack, not Tunney.
                Willie Pep 229 likes this.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by QueensburyRules View Post

                  - -You're forgetting the Tex tourney where he's proposing the Wills/Tunney elimination tourney for the right to challenge Dempsey. Had Wills taken that fight and won, it would've been Wills vs rusty Jack, not Tunney.
                  - -Pep asked me to come up with a link about that tourney, and in the immediacy of my here and now I came up with this comprehensive account of Wills/Dempsey saga where Wills/Tunney/Rickard are mentioned in conjunction to 1925.

                  For reference, first half of 1925 Gene fought Greb and Tommy Gibbons back to back, so he was not short of confidence for 1925. I recommend the entirety of the comprehense article rather than the piecemeal efforts on this forum, but here is that specific reference. In the mean time I'll poke around some more...

                  https://fightfilmcollector.blogspot....-wills-vs.html

                  Harry Takes the High Road in Low Country

                  Though Wills was black, he was not without means, money and popularity. Suing your way into a fight without promoters may have been like suing the stock market for not going up, but it got Wills’ case on record. In the meantime, there were many other fighters other than Wills in competition for Dempsey’s title, and the contenders battled one another for position. But Wills and his manager Paddy Mullins choose not to fight and thus eliminate any of his leading rivals including Tommy Gibbons, Billy Miske, Georges Carpentier, Jim Maloney, Harry Greb, Young Stribling, and Jack Delaney, none of whom drew the color line. Even Gene Tunney offered in 1925. Rickard may not have wanted to take chances, but Wills didn’t want to take chances either. By helping to keep Dempsey in court instead of the ring—Wills also sued to stop both the Dempsey-Firpo and Tunney fights—Wills may further have dimmed his own prospects.
                  billeau2 and Willie Pep 229 like this.

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                  • #10
                    - -1926----

                    The Panther Cries Wolf

                    The heavyweight division continued to shake out; Tunney, Maloney, Delaney, Wills, Sharkey, Uzcundun and others were now in contention. In early 1926, Wills was offered $250,000 to fight Gene Tunney in a title eliminator, with the winner to meet the champion. Wills turned it down. Wills believed that fighting Dempsey was now a matter of entitlement. It was fateful decision. A Wills-Tunney fight may have changed the course of events. In any case the Tunney-Dempsey match was then scheduled.

                    Still there seemed no end to the claims, even as the Dempsey-Tunney fight approached. On August 6, 1926, the Evening Independent reported that a Chicago matchmaker, Doc Krone, announced that a $300,000 check was waiting for Dempsey in a Chicago bank. On August 22, the Telegraph Herald reported that Wills’ manager Paddy Mullins tried to bluff Dempsey once more into a contract, and then reportedly “failed to come forward with $150,000” saying, “We’ll post the money immediately if Dempsey will sign to fight Wills before September 23.” It was all too late. The public wanted Dempsey back, and he was in the ring with Gene Tunney three weeks later.

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