8. Jim Jeffries vs. Tom Sharkey. November 3, 1899. Coney Island, NY. Result: Jeffries W 25.
Hailed by one sportswriter as “99 minutes of hell”, the scrap between Jeffries and Sharkey was one of the most brutal and grueling contests of toughness and endurance ever witnessed in the history of heavyweight boxing. Sharkey despite being at a physical disadvantage to the much larger Jeffries pressed the fight. It was a fierce struggle that made all the more difficult for the champion because he was handicapped by a left elbow that he dislocated in training a week before the fight. Jeff figured he had one good punch with that left and in the second round unleashed his best hook and dropped Sharkey to the canvas. Tom got right up and Jeff’s left was useless for the rest of the fight.
The early rounds belonged to Jeff but in the mid-rounds the swarming Sharkey began to come on. Sharkey was fighting his fight, setting the pace and outhitting Jeffries on the inside. By the 10th round Tom had Jeff bleeding and reeling. Then in the 11th a hard right to the temple caused Sharkey to drop to his knees. But Sharkey again got up right away and continued his work. “It was a muderous battle for the first 18 rounds” wrote one ringsider. Both men battered each other in a close quarters battle. Sharkey dominated the action in many of these rounds. Charles Mathison, a famous sportswriter and New York boxing judge, said had the fight been a 20-rounder Sharkey would have received the decision. Nevertheless Jeffries used his greater strength and weight to advantage by leaning on Sharkey in the clinches in the later rounds and landed the heavier blows. Sharkey received enough blows in rounds 19-23 to finish most fighters career. In the 22nd round a pair of viscious uppercuts had Sharkey groggy and in trouble. Tom rallied again though in the 24th and 25th rounds as Jeffries appeared to tire. Referee Siler, the lone judge of the bout, raised Jeffries arm as the winner in what was considered the greatest heavyweight fight ever until modern times.