Dempsey’s Bloodhound

By Matt McGrain on January 22, 2013
Dempsey’s Bloodhound
“He was the fastest fighter I ever saw,” Dempsey would say of Harry Greb some years later.

The New York Times wrote that Greb had given Dempsey an “honest to goodness battle” and that “Greb was all over him…”

In the wake of Jack Dempsey’s annihilation Jess Willard in June of 1919, the scramble began to uncover the men that would challenge him. The names that were mentioned were many, but first and foremost amongst them was Harry Wills, who according to the Washington Times was “the one man physically entitled to dreaming of the championship. Wills can hit, box and take punishment,” but that “Dempsey is on record as being opposed to allowing a negro challenger another chance to own the crown.”

Wills exclusion based upon the color line—an exclusion, if it were ever made, that was quickly retracted by Dempsey’s Machiavellian manager Jack Kearns—left the spot for Dempsey’s first challenger wide open.

The winner of the up-and-coming Carpentier-Beckett fight was in the frame. So, briefly, was former Dempsey conqueror Willie Meehan. Slowly however, the outstanding Billy Miske out of Minnesota and Bill Brennan out of Kentucky became the leading candidates. 

“Dempsey has never been able to knock out Miske,” offered Kearns, referencing the two bouts fought previously. “There is something baffling about his style – and Dempsey has not been able to solve it.”

Of Brennan he said that he had “become convinced that the public wants to see Dempsey box Brennan.”

What he did not say was that there was another challenger out there, one that had been stalking Dempsey for a year even before he came to the title, one that would stalk him, unerringly, until he relinquished it in 1926. Nor did he say that this fighter, this unnamed, unspoken of challenger, had thrashed both Brennan and Miske both within the last twelve months.

To understand this extraordinary story it is necessary to travel back to 1917, the year in which the great Harry Greb first met Battling Levinsky.

Levinsky, real name Barney Lebrowitz, was an astonishing talent, brilliant and durable, lacking pep on offense but a defensive genius stopped just four times in a three-hundred fight campaign. In a career that saw him meet a legitimate “who’s who?” of the era he spent 1917 besting heavyweight contenders Billy Miske and Gunboat Smith, having picked off the brilliant Jack Dillon twice the year before. A reported 20-pound weight advantage did not save Levinsky from a one-sided beating as the “perpetual fighting machine” (The Pittsburgh Post) that was Greb used aggression and speed to overcome a height, reach and weight advantage in a world-class opponent for neither the first or last time. Despite Levinsky’s mournful appraisal of his own performance—“I couldn’t get me left working. I was rotten”—he was the type of fighter that solved the opposition, read them then out-thought them. He was a learning fighter, cerebral, crafty. 

So he would try again with Greb in August of 1918, over just six rounds. Levinsky was once again battered into a shell by Greb, all his learning having come to naught after Greb, not Levinsky, made adjustments to snap off the final two rounds of the contest and the victory. Levinsky finished the fight “showing no aggression” fighting just to survive his threshing foe. He would try four more times and fail on each occasion, losing by a variety of margins but never coming close to a win.

But it is after their August of 1918 bout that Jack Dempsey first becomes a part of our tale. Levinsky had been vocal about a fight with Dempsey, but in the wake of this second loss to Greb, eyes turned to Harry. Would he want to face the world’s latest fistic sensation?

Under the Pittsburgh Post headline “Greb Beats Levinsky; Challenges Dempsey” it was announced by Greb that he was “anxious to take on” this so-called “Manassa Mauler.” Nobody that has shown an interest in his career can be surprised. Greb would fight anyone.

For Levinsky meanwhile, a rethink was in order. According to the Milwaukee Journal “...he will go into hiding for a while so far as being matched with Jack Dempsey is concerned.”  This is all understandable, simple and fair. Battling Levinsky had a Dempsey fight on his horizon, but now Greb has beaten him twice, this lucrative fight belongs to the victor, right? Wrong. We are now entering Dempsey-World.

Three months later, Jack became the first man to stop Levinsky with a hard right hand to the jaw, dropping the defensive genius in only three rounds. It was an impressive display and it represented the beginning of Dempsey’s run in earnest to the title. Greb cooled those lightning fast boots, but remained hot upon Dempsey’s heels.

With Jack unavailable, he made himself content with meeting the heavyweight Billy Miske in September of 1918. Miske was in the form of his life. Although he was suffering some symptoms of Bright’s disease which would eventually kill him, Billy was technically unbeaten in thirteen fights, including what is reported by many sources as a draw boxed with Jack Dempsey four short months before. Greb totally out-boxed Miske for the first five rounds of the fight, making a mockery of the 15-pound weight advantage Billy held over him. Miske closed savagely however, re-opening a cut Greb had suffered in sparring before buckling the smaller man’s knees in the final round. 

As a finish, it was impressive, and although most newspaper reports were in favor of Greb based upon the fact that he won more rounds, some saw it from the old-school point of view that by hurting Greb at the end of the fight, Miske perhaps deserved the nod. 

Either way, Greb again expressed an interest in a fight with Dempsey—and yet two months later it was the defeated Miske that climbed into the ring with Jack, dropping a one-sided six round decision. With a cosmic shrug, Harry Greb went on a fourteen fight unbeaten streak culminating, four months before Dempsey would slaughter world champion Jess Willard, in another ten round contest with Miske. 

Billy was clever fighter and possibly it was he rather than Tommy Loughran who hit upon the body attack as the only means of slowing Greb. It did not work for him however, and Greb won at a canter, leaving the ring “without a mark upon his face” after having won as many as eight of the ten rounds. A brutal low blow landing flush upon Greb’s most delicate spot in the third round was the most widely reported aspect of the fight such was Harry’s dominance of Miske. It was not close.

And yet somehow, it was Billy Miske who was called upon to match the heavyweight champion of the world when Jack Kearns selected Dempsey’s first opponent. Dempsey spoke of Miske’s durability and skill when in public, but in truth, Miske had begun to slide, losing to Kid Norfolk in a one-sided fashion before boxing draws with Brennan and Gibbons and losing to Battling Levinsky. Amongst this run of incredibly patchy form, Billy was finally diagnosed with a terminal illness, the symptoms of which were hampering his ring efforts.

But neither form nor health could keep Miske from Dempsey’s ring and seemingly the reverse could get Greb nowhere near it. In June of 1919 promoters Matt Hinkle and Jimmy Shelvin both offered to begin work on a Dempsey-Greb showdown, to absolutely no avail. An unsatisfying one-sided world title bout against Miske followed.

When negotiations began for Dempsey’s second title defense, Harry must have been genuinely stunned by the man in the frame to face the champion: Bill Brennan.

Whilst there is no doubting that Brennan was a capable and stout boxer, it is also true that Greb had thrashed him even more decisively than he had Miske. Brennan had been beaten by Greb an astonishing four times in 1919. 

The first, fought in February, was such a one-sided affair that Brennan claimed an injury and demanded a rematch. After taking some time out to beat up heavyweight Chuck Wiggins a couple of times, rematch the helpless Battling Levinsky and out-pointing middleweight contender Leo Houck (all whilst Brennan did nothing but nurse his wounds), Greb acquiesced. After administering another sound thrashing, he rematched Brennan again in both July and August. It is possible, with the right combination of sources, to paint a picture whereby Brennan literally did not win a single round against Greb in fifty attempts. The reality is he likely won a handful; regardless, Dempsey’s picking Brennan as an opponent over Greb when Greb had unquestionably proven that as a fighter Brennan was not in his class seems unjustifiable. It may also be one of the greatest injustices in the history of boxing. 

Still, Greb was not one to complain and there was fighting to do. He boxed twenty-five times in 1920 and lost only one fight—to the legendary Tommy Gibbons.

Gibbons was a brilliant fighter, unquestionably one of the best of his time and in him Harry Greb found an adversary worthy of his prime. Gibbons was more brilliant on defense than even Levinsky, who, in spite of the fact that he mixed it with Greb, Dillon, Young Stribling, Carpentier, Jack Sullivan, Miske, Dempsey and Brennan, ranked Tommy as the cleverest boxer he ever faced. Kid Norfolk, Carpentier and Miske were all beaten by him at one stage or another—and so was Harry Greb.

Having already lost to Gibbons in 1915, their March 1920 rematch was as brutal a beating as Harry ever took as he was arguably outclassed over the ten rounds. Greb demanded a rematch, and Gibbons, every bit as brave as his beaten opponent, agreed. In June they met in Pittsburgh for a second time.

It seems that in this fight, Greb perfected the rushing, stabbing style that had made him famous as he again and again closed with Gibbons and lashed out at him then retreated to safe distance before Tommy could make his move. By the fifth he seemed in almost total control and the memory of his defeat two short months ago melted away as, in the seventh round, the heavens opened and the ring was lashed with rain. This inclement weather seemed to agree with Greb more than it did Gibbons; Tommy would later complain of an inability to see as he was remorselessly stabbed from all sides by an opponent he just couldn’t get a glove to. Greb “battered merrily away” and “manhandled [Gibbons] gleefully and seemed to get a good deal of satisfaction out of it.”

The two would meet again at the beginning of 1922 in New York, this time in a world heavyweight title eliminator to decide the next opponent for Jack Dempsey.

In what it called “the most important ring engagement since Dempsey-Carpentier” under a headline that called them “heavies, battling for the right to compete with Jack Dempsey,” both men were profiled in detail by The Youngstown Vindicator

The fight itself, once again, was not close.

Gibbons looked “a foolish young brown bear” groping helplessly for Greb as the Harry tattooed him up and down the ring. “The Pittsburgh Windmill won every round,” concluded The New York Day.

Dempsey and Kearns, who both attended the fight were said to look “very glum” as Greb thrashed Gibbons around the ring. “Anybody who now classes Gibbons as fit to fight for the title,” continued The Day, “will be regarded as a practical joker.”

The Pittsburgh Press agreed. 

“Greb, for the time being, has definitively removed Gibbons from the [title] picture…Greb is certainly entitled to a dance with Jack Dempsey.”

Sure enough, a year almost to the day after Greb totally outclassed Gibbons, Gibbons was allowed to fight for the world’s heavyweight title. It was a fight in which Gibbons was soundly beaten, was not paid and that famously bankrupted the town of Shelby as well as morally bankrupting the world’s heavyweight title. Miske, Brennan and now Gibbons had all been thrashed before fighting for the title by Harry Greb, who now greeted the champion with the words “when are you going to fight me, ya bum?” whenever the two crossed paths. 

The short answer was “never.” Despite beating four of the six men Dempsey defended his world’s heavyweight title against, and despite repeated offers made by a variety of promoters, Greb would never get to fight for the title.

The negotiations, when they occurred, followed the same pattern that negotiations followed whenever Dempsey’s people negotiated with Harry Wills. There seemed to be a willingness to follow through, there seemed to be a chance that the fight would come off, but at the last minute negotiations would fall apart. Comically, Dempsey’s representation even announced that they would not be negotiating a fight with Greb because they wanted to negotiate one with Wills—and later the same year would claim the exact opposite. The reasoning for a Dempsey-Wills fight falling through has become one of racial politics. The powers that be were not interested in seeing a fight of mixed color, we are told. The fight couldn’t be made due to the dangers of race riots. Jack Johnson, a black man, had made the possibility of another black champion impossible.

What, then, of Greb? “Whiter” than Dempsey if matters of racial stereotyping had become so important, why could he never fight for the world title? It has often been said that he was considered too small. Unfortunately, he was around the same size as ex-flyweight Carpentier, who was deemed big enough to fight for the title. It has been said that he was not a big enough draw. The interest generated by the fourth Gibbons fight married to the fact that Dempsey could draw a million dollars boxing challengers who were, frankly, proven unqualified to fight for the heavyweight title rather undermines this position, as do multiple offers from multiple promoters.

Greb was a great light-heavyweight. He has, for some reason, become more famous as a middleweight, but the facts are be he beat more top light-heavies than middles and spent the bulk of his prime fighting above the 160-pound limit. Dempsey was, by modern calculation, a small cruiserweight. The two were a good match for this era. 

And this was proven when the two met in the ring in 1920 as part of Dempsey’s preparation for the third Miske fight. Drawing from research done by Bill Paxton, author of The Fearless Harry Greb, and Clay Moyle, author of the superb Billy Miske, we learn that these confrontations were boxed between two protagonists known for their brutality when sparring, was refereed and had a paying audience of some two-thousand plus. 

“Greb was all over [Dempsey], forcing him round the ring,” writes Clay of their first day sparring. “Dempsey couldn’t do anything with him, while the speedier Greb seemed able to hit the champion at will. Time and again Greb made him miss before countering him to the head and body.”

In a subsequent sparring session, Greb rushed Dempsey at the opening bell and unloaded, opening a cut above the champion’s eye. According to Paxton, Dempsey “ didn’t want to lose face” and so agreed to box on, but after a “few more exchanges” the session was called off. 

The New York Times wrote that Greb had given Dempsey an “honest to goodness battle” and that “Greb was all over him…throughout the entire session.”

Were these one-sided rounds a reasonable representation of how a real fight between the two would have gone? It’s impossible to say with any certainty, but common opponent Bill Brennan certainly thought so. He went to the extraordinary lengths of making Greb a favorite over Dempsey “were he to fight the champion instead of me.” Brennan, to his credit, seemed to be uncertain as to why he should be facing Dempsey after being thrashed four times by Greb.

Harry himself was, at least in his prime years, extremely confident. “I regard myself as the logical contender,” Harry told The Pittsburgh Press in March of 1922. “What is more I have a better than even chance to win the title…it is the ambition of my life. I am honest when I say that I could out-box Dempsey in a bout of 12 to 15 rounds. There would always be a chance of a Dempsey knockout of course…of one thing I am positive, I would make a far better showing than Carpentier.”

Jack on the other hand at times appeared less confident, supposedly telling promoter Charlie Murray, in 1921, “don’t get me Greb. I can take on Brennan without too much training but for Greb I must be in the best of shape…he will outpoint me ten to one and the only way I can whip him is by knocking him out.”

As a possibility, the fight never did go away. When Dempsey signed to meet Gene Tunney in 1926 after three years of inactivity the astonishing possibility of Greb fighting the champion as a sort of “warm-up” for the title fight was explored. Greb, as ever, was game, despite the fact that he was by now blind in one eye and a faded force. Having always said he would fight “the bum” for free he by now was insistent, reasonably enough, upon being paid for his services. Maybe this was even the reason the final chance to make the fight between the two fell through.

“He was the fastest fighter I ever saw,” Dempsey would say of Greb some years later. “Faster than [then lightweight champion] Benny Leonard.”

Too fast, perhaps.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Jack Dempsey vs Jess Willard (1919)

Jack Dempsey vs Bill Brennan

Jack Dempsey vs Georges Carpentier

Jack Dempsey vs Tommy Gibbons, 1923

Complete Harry Greb Newsreel

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  1. Kauz Walther 06:07am, 09/09/2014

    After Dempsey won the title, he was not hungry anymore. Figuratively and literally. A young Dempsey would have smashed Greb. A post 1919 Dempsey may have lost on points. But face it, if you can’t hurt your opponent does it that really count as a “loss”? I’m not so convinced.

  2. bikermike 06:00pm, 04/21/2014

    Dempsey was one of the great prize fighters of his time….end of story

  3. bikermike 05:54pm, 04/21/2014

    Dempsey had paid the price….he did the box cars ...from camp to camp…..led a harsh a prize fighter….When things got better….he stuck his face ..less and less..into the buzz saw of Heavyweight fighting of that day.
    He was a very marketable HW Champion….‘cept he didn’t fight much as a Champion….Movies….Radio…Public Relations…and hand picked opponents…kept Dempsey on top of the mountain.  Firpo matched put a flare in Dempsey’s sagging Title
    career…stuff of legends

  4. bikermike 05:38pm, 04/21/2014

    Most real read historians of the Sweet Science still cringe about that Gibbons Dempsey thing in Shelby Montana…Shelby just paid that bill off about five years back or so….Dempsey and his manager went right from the ring to the train…no shower..and changed clothes on the train…real class

  5. bikermike 05:19pm, 04/21/2014

    about that interesting post vis a vis lowering from 15 rounds to 12 rounds….or ..doing that 10 round thing with Dempsey and TUnney…

    Read both sides of this thing…now that there are 12 round championship fights….the HW division is SWAMPED with blubber butts…who couldn’t do fifteen rounds ...even if somebody held their dog hostage ffs

    Shorter fights make for fighters who don’t train for longer matches…..
    ..slower…less mobile…heavier/read fat….contenders are the norm…
    Show me a HW contender since Iabeuchi(President..nut case) and Holyfield that were cut?..(Holyfield being a multi champion)

  6. bikermike 05:09pm, 04/21/2014

    worth noting…..From when Dempsey won the Title in 1919…Dempsey only sucessfully defended his Title five times ...before losing it to Gene Tunney in 1926….

    That’s five successful Title defences in seven years

  7. nicolas 11:45am, 12/27/2013

    TEX: I will always disagree with anyone who says that even the 1919 Jack Dempsey would have torn through the Klitschko brothers. People will point out the massacre that he put on Willard. However, remember that Willard, while a man who did have a good punch, had not fought in a long time when he went against Dempsey, and really did not have the same length of experience in the ring that the brothers have had. It would have been interesting had Dempsey fought the Willard of 1915, victory probably, but not as with such ease.  I also feel that even leading up to Dempsey’s world title conquest, that he did not even fight as good as fighters that the brothers fought.

  8. Tex Hassler 09:58am, 12/27/2013

    Greb gets my vote for the greatest middleweight of all times. His style was all wrong for Ray Robinson. Greb did not draw the color line either, he fought them all regardless of size or race. The one defeat on Gene Tunney’s record came at the hands of Harry Greb. This speaks volumes of Harry’s skill.
    I think the prime Dempsey of 1919 would have torn through either Klitschko brother.

  9. nicolas 02:56am, 12/23/2013

    George, it wasn’t the fighters or managers who limited the title fights to 10 rounds, it was really the state commissions, Illinois n particular at the time, Remember Walker-Flowers. As for the first Dempsey-Tunney fight, I was not sure if Pennsylvania also had the same rule about those fights only going ten, I will have to look up other title fights from that State at that time.

  10. George Thomas Clark 01:19pm, 12/22/2013

    Jim Corbett and Evander Holyfield (when he was a cruiserweight) would of course be great additions to the 200 and under extravaganza…
    And John L. Sullivan, too, who’s best early fighting weight was around 190.

  11. George Thomas Clark 01:15pm, 12/22/2013

    I would also like to praise fighters, managers, etc. from 1926-27 who limited the Dempsey-Tunney fights to 10 rounds.  If those fights had gone longer, Dempsey, already tiring and battered, would have been punished and stopped.  Imagine how much healthier Ali and Frazier would have been if each of their fights had been 10 rounds.  Look what they did to each other after the 10th rounds in their first and third fights.  Boxing made a good move to limit fights to 12 rounds after the 1983 death of Duk Koo Kim, and it’s now time to set a new limit of 10 rounds.  That’s enough.

  12. George Thomas Clark 01:09pm, 12/22/2013

    Results of the Greb-Dempsey sparring sessions may not have been an accurate indicator of a real heavyweight championship fight between the two.  The most damning evidence against Dempsey was his insistence on giving title shots to boxers Greb had beaten.  And then there’s Harry Wills… Dempsey was great, but after 1919 fighting simply was not his focus.  And, really, why should it have been?  He lived a long and healthy life because he avoided the Ali-Frazier style demolitions that ruin men forever.  I agree with the commentator who has Dempsey in the Top 10 below 200.  And, as I noted elsewhere, what a spectacular division that would’ve been - Marciano, Charles, Walcott, Dempsey, Tunney, Langford, Michael Spinks, Qawi.  Though I admire Greb very much, and think he would’ve had a chance against Dempsey, Greb would’ve been too small to take on every guy on this list.

  13. Eric Jorgensen 12:05pm, 02/21/2013

    With respect, gentlemen, going 2-3 rounds with headgear and 16-oz gloves means zero, even if Dempsey really were trying to knock him out, which I doubt.  Tough, quick guy like Greb—an all-timer in anybody’s book—I would expect him to do just fine under those conditions against anybody under 200 lbs. 

  14. Eric 06:21pm, 01/28/2013

    Greb is without a doubt the greatest middleweight of all time and as you stated should rank very high on the light heavyweight rankings. Heard he handled fellow “giant killer” and former light heavyweight champ Jack Dillon pretty easily. Ketchel vs Greb or Langford vs Greb would have been two dream fights whether fought at middle or light heavy.

  15. nicolas 12:25am, 01/28/2013

    First, I have to say, I really can’t say if Greb would have won his fight with Dempsey. One of the arguments made by one gentlemen here is that Dempsey really went down hill after his victory over Willard, and I think this is a valid point as Mr. Dempsey found other ways of making money besides boxing after winning th title..  Many fighters never reach there full potential because they are afraid to lose. I think we can say the same about Jack Dempsey. Dempsey really did not fight the best when he was champion, the only one perhaps being somewhat legit when he fought Luis Firpo, who had stopped Jess Willard. There was real no rating board to rank fighters, and it was somewhat at the end of 24 that Ring Rated Harry Wills the number one contender, but of course a fight between Dempsey and Wills never materialized, and I would argue that Tex Rickard was probably afraid that Dempsey would lose, and race riots, which had been many in 1919 would erupt across the country. His fear was justified, even when you look at when Louis lost to Schmelling the first time, there was some rioting among blacks in New York, and some other places. In 1950, amazingly sportswriters named him the greatest fighter of the first half of the 20th century. We have to really laugh at that now. Dempsey’s real claim to fame is that he has 5 million dollar gates, the second one with Tunney being some 2.6 mill. As Norm said, Dempsey was an Icon, but so was John L Sullivan some 35 yrs earlier, and he refused to fight Peter Jackson. During Dempsey’s rein, boxings popularity was probably never higher, and I think this has clouded why people think he is so great. However, I don’t always agree with what Nat Flesher had said, but because of his influence, I would put Dempsey in the top 10 of all fighters below 200 pounds.

  16. Matt McGrain 11:40pm, 01/27/2013

    Whilst I agree that sparring and fighting are not the same thing, I’d just point out that Dempsey was anything but a poor gym fighter.  He was famous for sparring particularly hard, even for that generation.  He was Ketchel.  He just couldn’t turn it off.

    But as to who would win and who wouldn’t, the article is not about that, not really.  It’s about the FACTS surrounding Greb’s clearly out-performing the men Dempsey defended against in the more celebrated half of his reign.  These facts are inarguable.  Whether or not someone holds the opinion that Dempsey would have won is about as relevant as somoene’s holding the opinion that Greb would have won.  The point is, Dempsey should have made that coversation null and void by taking the fight.

  17. Eric 07:24pm, 01/27/2013

    Sparring matches aren’t REAL fights. Ali was a terrible gym fighter, who often would spar last after he did his bag work and rope skipping, so he would already be entering the ring somewhat fatigued against fresh sparring sparring partners. Former middleweight contender Curtis Parker was a terror in those Philly gym wars when he was fighting. Even former heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon all 6’3” and 220-230lbs of him has stated he was rocked by Parker in a sparring session. It was said Parker even bested Tommy Hearns in a sparring session when Hearns visited Philly. Parker would spar with light heavyweight and cruiserweight champ Dwight Qawi, and those sessions were so brutal that neither fighter’s camps wanted them to spar again and that put an end to that. Gerry Cooney has said even little Vito Antuofermo had tagged him in sparring when both fighters were actively fighting in the early Eighties. It was said Jerry Quarry had embarrassed Joe Frazier in a sparring session in California and we all saw what happened under the bright lights of a real fight. Sorry but sparring sessions aside Dempsey whips Greb pretty soundly and even worse than Schmeling did Walker.

  18. Springs Toledo 04:25pm, 01/24/2013

    This is an important essay by Matt McGrain. Dempsey was indeed a great and vicious fighter. But I’m convinced that he peaked in 1919 and began his decline the moment he left Willard a battered mess in that ring. Greb is something more than Dempsey. Much more. I’m completely convinced that he is the greatest fighter of the modern era; and the ranks of analysts and historians who agree are growing.

  19. Matt McGrain 01:09am, 01/24/2013

    I think that Dempsey is indeed an American icon, and will remain so.  But I feel the same way about Charles Manson!  Obviously i’m not comparing the two in any regard apart from that one, but what I mean is - an American icon can still be judged.  Dempsey may have been a roaring 20’s rock n’ roll star.  That doesn’t leave him beyond the reach of a retrospective re-assessment. (with the the aid of contemporary sources).  Dempsey’s failure to fight Wills has slowly but surely become a black mark for the internet generation.  So, too, should his failure to fight Greb, the case for which is outlined above - and I believe it to be near a concrete lock.
    A new generation of mostly amateur historians is at the tiller now, and in my humble opinion they seem less inclined to buy into the legendary aspects of a fighter’s reputation without a very close look.  Fighters like Greb will pass this test.  Fighters like Dempsey may find it more difficult.

  20. Mike Casey 03:00pm, 01/23/2013

    I was joking with Matt, Norm.

  21. Norm Marcus 01:29pm, 01/23/2013

    Come on guys. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. We’ll never know the answers to these “what if” questions. All I know is that Jack Dempsey was and always will be an American icon. He lived a life that most men just dream about. Dempsey, just the name symbolizes raw power. It was a time when America was young.

  22. Mike Casey 06:37am, 01/23/2013

    Not if artful Harry tickled them under the arms during the instructions!

  23. Matt McGrain 04:55am, 01/23/2013

    Nicolas, I think Dempsey was a great fighter but I definitely have concerns about who he *didn’t* fight.  I would argue that the three most dangerous fighters to his title during his reign were Wills, Greb and Tunney.  Against these three he went 0-2, and met only one of them.

    Mike!  I think it’s safe to pick the Klitschkos over the 5’8, 164lb Harry Greb, no?

  24. Mike Casey 04:00am, 01/23/2013

    Doesn’t really matter. Both these guys were bums. Wlad and Vitali would have murdered them. I know this for a fact because people keep telling me.

  25. nicolas 11:13pm, 01/22/2013

    An article that should further knock a nail in the coffin that Jack Dempsey was one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. From what I have learned here from this article by Mr. McGrain, one has the feeling that had Dempsey and Greb met for the heavyweight title, it would have looked like something of what happened in the first fight between Louis and Conn, only I seem to feel that Greb would have won.

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