Lee Groves

10: Notable July 4 fights

6. 1911 – Ad Wolgast KO 13 Owen Moran II, Eighth Street Arena, San Francisco, California

Any match that pits a “Michigan Wildcat” with someone called “The Fearless” has to be great and the two fights between Wolgast and Moran certainly were that. Their first meeting was a six-round no-decision bout credited to Moran, who, at 132, scaled 14 pounds heavier and was fresh off a 25-round draw against his nemesis, longtime featherweight champion Abe Attell. By the time they met again on Independence Day 1911, the 23-year-old Wolgast, now the lightweight champion, was at his positive peak while the 26-year-old Englishman was approaching the downward side of the mountain. Nevertheless, their scheduled 20 rounder for the American version of the title was still a worthy battle.

Wearing an American flag around his waist to commemorate the holiday, Wolgast set a demanding pace while Moran dealt with it by jabbing at long range and deftly dodging the champion’s charges. Moran fared well at long range but unfortunately for him those sequences were too few and far between. Wolgast’s short lefts brought blood from Moran’s mouth in round one and a vicious body shot capped an effective start. Moran rebounded strongly in the second as his spearing blows bloodied Wolgast’s nostrils while a hard right drove the champion across the ring. The momentum switched again in the third as Wolgast’s right nearly floored Moran, who got in enough lefts to badly bruise Wolgast’s right eye, then switched back to Wolgast in the fourth as he forced a brutal trench war.

With the facial damage mounting for both men, the pace understandably slowed in the fifth and sixth, which allowed Moran enough breathing room to score well but by the seventh the hard pace was starting to tell on Moran. Wolgast mercilessly accelerated his body attack in the eighth and nearly sent the wilting challenger through the ropes in the ninth and 10th rounds. The courageous Moran summoned a rally during the final half of round 10 and captured the 11th with another inspirational rally. Wolgast regained control in the 12th, landing a hard right at the bell that caused Moran to spit out a tooth.

Wolgast’s supreme stamina and relentless pressure finally broke Moran in the 13th as he drove the challenger to the corner and hammered the body with both hands. Wolgast’s first right to the stomach created a crack that could be heard all around ringside and two more rights to the ribs caused Moran to double over. A final hook to the jaw sent a gasping Moran to the floor, where he would stay for the 10-count, the first knockout loss of his 11-year career. It would take Moran several minutes to regain consciousness.

Meanwhile, Wolgast’s supporters rushed the ring, untied the flag that served as his belt and waved it over Wolgast’s head.

“Some battle for the Fourth of July,” a weary Wolgast said. Indeed it was.

“It was easy all the way,” he told the Gazette Times in his dressing room, though his battered features told a different story. “I would have had the decision if the fight had gone to the end. Moran’s claim that I fouled him is foolish. He went down because he could not hold on any longer. I pitted him in the stomach five times, all fair, square blows, and then clipped his jaw. That’s all there was to it.”

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