1/ Jack Johnson took a dive vs Jess Williard –
Johnson sold his confession to former Ring editor, Nat Fleischer when said to be down on his luck many years later and cited this picture of him shielding his eyes from the sun as supporting evidence.
But as Mike Tyson said to Harry Carpenter in a 1987 documentary, it seems more likely that a 37 year old, poorly conditioned Johnson simply got hit , in the 26th round of a fight he had been winning for 19 stanzas.
2/ Harry Greb beat up Jack Dempsey in a 1921 sparring session –
It is often said that this fabled ‘reversal’ in training camp caused Dempsey to forever avoid giving Greb a shot at the world heavyweight title.
It may well have happened as stated and there are a catalogue of gym tales in which the ‘The Champ’ is said to have been dominated or embarrassed by a smaller or less regarded sparring partner.
3/ Willie Pep won a round without throwing a punch. –
It has often been recited as gospel that that the incomparable Pep won the third round of his 1946 fight with Jackie Graves without throwing a single shot.
As brilliant as Pep undoubtedly was, the fact that a reporter for the Minnesota based newspaper, The St. Paul’s Pioneeer, described the third round as the most action packed of the entire fight would seem to put the lie to this attractive myth.
4/ Rocky Marciano lost his first pro fight –
This one appears to be a durable misunderstanding down the ages.
The truth of the matter is almost certainly that ‘The Rock’ briefly went back to the amateurs and incurred a loss in 1948, AFTER his winning pro debut in 1947, before continuing his march toward greatness in the paid ranks.
5/ Cassius Clay threw his Olympic Gold Medal in the Ohio River –