PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - April 16, 2018  
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Story by John DiSanto


Philadelphia has a long legacy of Philly boxers fighting each other.  Past decades are loaded with such fights and they are the absolute highlights of Philly’s boxing history. However these days, getting two of our own into the same ring isn’t as popular as it once was. 

Current fans and even fighters, resist such fights feeling that no Philly fighter should ever even think about derailing another. I couldn’t disagree more with this theory. Philly vs. Philly (PVP) fights are usually memorable, often classic encounters, and a single defeat – even to another Philly fighter – rarely ends the career of the other.    

Although PVP fights are rarer and rarer lately, the good news that we are on the brink of another one, and it is a very good one: Bryant Jennings vs. Joey Daweko, at the Liacouras Center on April 28, 2018. 

In preparation (and celebration) of this terrific match-up, for the next two weeks, we will take a look at some of the best PVP fights that have come before this one. 

September 10, 1928 – Shibe Park

In 1928, two of the top featherweights in the world, Benny Bass and Harry Blitman – both North Philadelphians – clashed in a scheduled ten-rounder at Shibe Park.  Earlier in the year, Bass lost his title to Tony Canzoneri.  A few months after that, rising contender Blitman, beat Canzoneri in a non-title bout.  Both Bass and Blitman wanted a rematch with champion Canzoneri as soon as they could get it, and both of them had a point. 

Today, both may have employed the waiting game, playing it safe, and keeping their fingers crossed for the opportunity to which they felt entitled.  But in 1928, there was only one path to the top – one fighter had to eliminate the other. 

In a fight described as “savage” by the newspapers of the day, the two fought a fearsome battle for the PA State Featherweight Championship before a crowd of 24,000. 

After an even first round that included a head butt that left both boxers bleeding, Blitman hurt Bass in the second. However, Benny fired back with a right that badly cut Blitman’s right eye. They continued to brawl.

Bass’ right hand began to find its mark, but Blitman kept firing too. As the end of the round neared, Bass cracked Blitman with right that staggered him backward. Benny jumped right on him and landed another right that sent Blitman to the canvas.

The fallen featherweight climbed to a knee and appeared ready to rise. However, the bell ended the round.

Beginning in round three, Bass took control of the fight. His right hands pounded Blitman, but the Philly southpaw showed his toughness by withstanding everything that came his way and fighting back. 

In round four, Blitman hurt Bass with his left. “It is a wonder that the punch didn’t tear Bass’ head totally off,” wrote Perry Lewis of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Benny staggered from the punch and for a moment, it appeared to be all over for Bass. But he was as tough as they come. 

When Blitman jumped in to finish him, Bass threw another right that caught Harry flush.  Suddenly, the tables were turned. Bass kept firing his right and found Blitman’s face over and over. By the end of the round, Harry’s eye was closed, his face was badly marked, and his legs were shot. Yet, he sprung out for round five like nothing had happened. 

Bass blasted Blitman’s body in the fifth, but both fighters took a little breather from the war of the previous round. However, the action erupted again in round six, when Bass came out to finish it. 

Bass landed his right again and again. Blitman looked weak and staggered backward. Bass hammered home three consecutive rights and Blitman hit the floor. 

Harry bravely got to his feet, refusing to be beaten. However, all he had left was courage. Bass poured it on and landed another right that staggered Blitman back. Bass followed up with a right hand and a brutal left hook that sent Blitman crashing. Harry tried to get up, but referee Willie Houck counted him out. 

The time was 1:04 of round six.  

The Inquirer called the fight “the greatest rivalry Quaker City boxing has ever known”, and after the fight Bass praised his fallen opponent. 

“I want to say that Harry Blitman is a great fighter and a game fighter,” Bass said. “He has plenty of heart and will come back.” 

Bass won two world titles during his career, and yet, many believe this was the best win of his twenty-year run. 

Next up - Bob Montgomery vs. Wesley Mouzon I & II...




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - April 16, 2018