Freddie Welsh vs Jim Driscoll

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The stage is set




On 20 December 1910, a large crowd gathered at the American Roller Rink on Westgate Street in Cardiff to watch two men fight to be recognised as the best featherweight boxer in Wales, if not the World.



The stage was set for the big fight, the press speculation and gamesmanship heightened tensions to the point that it would never be the display of skill for which many observers were hoping ..



 



Peerless Jim Driscoll




In one corner sat Jim Driscoll.



Driscoll was known as ‘Gentleman Jim’, but his quiet and unassuming manner belied his skill and strength as a boxer.  Despite his short and slim figure, he had boxed in fairs in his youth, and it was there that he learned the trade and honed his skills. 



The fight was to be Driscoll's challenge for the British lightweight title which Welsh had won in November 1910.  Driscoll had been British featherweight champion since 1906 and had challenged for the world title in 1910 but failed to secure the 'knock-out' and thus did not win the crown.



Freddie Welsh



In the other corner sat Freddie Welsh, the Welsh, British and European lightweight champion. 


Born Frederick Thomas, he had made his name in the United States. He had boxed in fairs for money and had developed a rugged and unruly style.


At only 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing only 9 1/2 stone, Welsh would crouch and duck, clinching and punching the opponents' kidneys and head, tactics considered 'ungentlemanly' in his native country.


His fight to claim the European title in 1909 had drawn a crowd of 15,000 in Mountain Ash, the largest crowd to watch a boxing match in Wales up to that time.


 


 



The Fight



It was not long before the bout degenerated into a street fight as Welsh’s tactics prevented Driscoll from using his notorious left arm and showing his style.


In the tenth round of a scheduled twenty, Driscoll finally lost his cool and butted Welsh under the chin across the ring forcing the referee to disqualify him.


There was never to be a rematch and the debate remains as to who was the greatest boxer.