It was billed as a contest for the heavyweight championship of the world. And yet, by noon on Dec. 2, 1896, with the fight slated to take place that same evening in San Francisco’s Mechanics’ Pavilion, they had the boxers, they had the venue but they didn’t have a referee.
It was the problem promoters J.J. Groom and John Gibbs faced.
The fight was between Fitzsimmons vs. Sharkey it was held to settle a three-year question as to the rightful holder of the gloved (Marquess of Queensberry rules) heavyweight title. Boxing was illegal in San Francisco but that didn’t really matter to the city officials and police commissioners . they even embraced the bout, Mechanics Pavilion was secured as a venue and more than 10,000 tickets were sold.
Both boxers had an Irish background, Fitzsimmons parents were Irish and Sharkey was a native from Dundalk.
Earp had refereed 30 or…
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