This Day in Boxing

Joe Gans Wins DQ Battling Nelson This Day September 3, 1906 Retains Crown


Joe Gans Wins DQ Battling Nelson This Day September 3, 1906 Retains Crown


  • Joe Gans 132¼ lbs
  • Battling Nelson 132¼ lbs
  • DQ in round 42 of 0
  • Casino Amphitheatre, Goldfield, Nevada
  • Referee: George Siler
  • World Lightweight Title




Billed by promoter Tex Rickard as “The Fight of the Century” (the first time that label was use)

Gans earned $11,000 and Nelson $22,500 (another source says $34,000)

United States President Teddy Roosevelt’s son Kermit was in the audience.

Joe Gans literally killed himself to make the lightweight limit for this bout, Nat Fleischer stated in “The Three Colored Aces.” As a result of his extremely light diet and strenuous training in the Nevada heat, Gans would feel the effects of tuberculosis shortly afterward. Nelson’s manager Billy Nolan allegedly set extremely unfair standards, as Champion Gans received only $11,000, compared to Nelson’s $34,000 (or $22,500, depending upon the source). And when Gans did make it down to 133 pounds, the lightweight limit at the time, Nolan announced that he must enter the ring at the same weight or the fight would be called off. Gans, who allowed all this just to reportedly “bring home the bacon” for his family, still had a vicious combatant to face in the ring.

Nelson, right off the bat, rushed at his foe and was met with a storm of left jabs, hooks and body shots. On occasion, Nelson would buckle under the precision and accuracy of Gans’s punches but would always fire back. Gans also dropped Nelson more than once in the bout. On two occasions Gans helped Nelson up. Nelson was also dropped out of the ring and Gans helped him to his feet and gave him time to recover. Despite a right hand broken in round 33, Nelson was still unable to find an advantage over the reigning title-holder. Approaching the 42nd frame, Nelson, who was nearly blinded by the punishment Gans was administering, hammered Gans with all the energy that hadn’t evaporated under the terrible Nevada sun, and it connected south of the border. It was declared a foul.

Battling Nelson, however, had a different version of events.

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