STORY OF PHILIPPINE BOXING PART III: PANCHO VILLA'S VICTORY OVER JIMMY WILDE
By Maloney L. Samaco
Wed, 01 Apr 2020
Pancho Villa's title fight with Jimmy Wilde was a comeback of sorts for the Welshman. Wilde has the longest unbeaten streak in boxing history, he went 103 fights before his first loss to Scottish James "Tancy" Lee. Wilde retired with a professional record of 139 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw and 5 no-contests, with an impressive 99 wins by knockout.
Wilde was often regarded as the greatest British fighter of all time and was the first official world flyweight champion. He was rated by many professionals and fans as "the Greatest Flyweight Boxer Ever".
During those times, "pre-battle statements," were told by the fighters to the reporters. As quoted by The Ring, the 31-year-old Wilde said: "I appreciate the fact that in Villa, I am going to meet one of the toughest little men in boxing. I appreciate the fact that I am going to be put to a real test, and that is what I have prepared for."
Villa answered by giving a hint on his fighting style: "I am in condition and once in condition, my worries are over. I do not intend to give Wilde a minute's rest while we are in the ring."
Villa did not disappoint the fans that cheered for him among the crowd. On June 18, 1923, at the Polo Grounds in New York City, Villa was fired up by tens of thousands of fans shouting "Viva Villa!" The triumph came by a whopping knockout in the 7th round, inflected by a thundering right to Wilde's jaw.
Villa punished Wilde by nonstop pummeling with both hands and dropping him also in the fourth and fifth rounds. After the shocking defeat Wilde never fought again.
His wife Gliceria (née Concepcion) who was left in Manila, when interviewed told the media: "You cannot imagine the happiness I felt upon receiving the first notices of the victory of my husband. I cried not because of pain but emotion. I was hoping for his triumph."
Former President General Emilio Aguinaldo, echoing the sentiment of the Filipino people greeted the new champion: "Congratulations, Pancho, Come back to us and defend your title here."
A hero's welcome warmly received Villa when he disembarked from the luxury liner "SS President Grant," the same vessel that he boarded on his trip to the United States on April 2, 1922 to start his career in the land of Uncle Sam.
A grand welcome reception was prepared at the Malacanan Palace hosted by then President Manuel Quezon after a mammoth parade from the airport through Manila's major thoroughfares where thousands lined up to greet the returning boxing hero.
The fans of "The Mighty Atom" Wilde saw their idol crushed early as reported by R.B. Cozens of The Ring: “A punch, landed on Wilde at the end of the second round after the bell had sounded, dropped Jimmy and it was the turning point of the battle. The blow ended whatever chances Wilde had against his aggressive opponent. Jimmy had to be pushed out for the third round, and from then to the finish he took a severe beating.”
Villa badly battered Wilde until referee Patsy Haley stopped it in the seventh round. At young 21 years old, Villa became a world champion. He was the first Filipino and Asian fighter to achieve such an accomplishment in boxing.
“It was just as I expected, but I don’t want to crow over the victory,” Villa humbly said after the fight. “Jimmy Wilde was the gamest little fighter I ever met, and I’ve fought quite a few. Not one fighter in a hundred would have come back after that sixth round, and I was surprised to see him try it. But it proved he was one of the best and I have nothing but admiration for him.”
The Times enthusiastically wrote: “The rise of Pancho Villa, the new flyweight champion of the world, has been little short of meteoric.”
The beating was so fierce that some months later Wilde revealed that he had temporarily forgotten what happened during the fight: “I do not recall being knocked out, nor a single thing that happened until, one day three weeks afterwards, I found myself in a little seaside bungalow some distance from New York.”
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.
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