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    1896 Boxing Contract for Corbett vs. Fitzsimmons Heavyweight Championship Bout. The state of Nevada would host its first legal prizefight as a result of the two-page document we offer here, the earliest known surviving contract for a Heavyweight Championship bout. To describe this piece as "historic" would be the greatest of understatements--even at the time, the Carson City event was heralded as "The Fight of the Century." Corbett was the man who ended the legend of the undefeated Boston Strongboy John L. Sullivan with a knockout victory over the last bare knuckle Champ in 1892. Fitzsimmons was seen as a devastating puncher, a perfect foil to Corbett's "sweet science." The massive crowds expected for the event would be managed by Old West gunslingers Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. The winner's purse, noted in the contract, would total $15,000, well over a quarter-million in today's dollars.

    The details of the fight are well documented, with "Gentleman Jim" easily managing the blacksmith from New Zealand through the first dozen rounds, badly bloodying the challenger as he controlled the action with his superior dexterity. One fortuitous shot on Fitzsimmons' behalf in the fourteenth round would change the course of history, however, as Corbett was paralyzed by a solid blow to his solar plexis, the nerve center just below the breastbone. Corbett was unable to regain the use of his legs before the count of ten, and Fitzsimmons would assume the title.

    These events were set in motion on December 17th, 1896, as two typed pages on legal size sheets (7x12") spelled out the details of the bout beginning with the stirring words, "We, the undersigned, JAMES J. CORBETT, of New York and ROBERT FITZSIMMONS, of New York, do hereby agree to fight to a finish under Marcus (sic) of Queensbury rules, for the Heavyweight Championship of the World..." Issues of f LOA from James Spence Authentication.inances (each must guarantee his participation with a $2,500 bond), the purse ($15,000) and the referee (chief correspondent of the Chicago Tribune George Siler) are agreed upon by the 9+/10 black ink autographs of Corbett, Fitzsimmons and financial backer Dan A. Stuart at the bottom of the second page. Two witnesses' signatures appear here as well.

    The two pages are matted and framed with an earlier unsigned draft of the fight contract and a pair of licenses for bouts to be held on the undercard. The final dimensions of the piece are 30x31". All pieces remain in stunning NRMT condition with the exception of the original storage folds. The victor in this bidding fight to the finish will become the curator of one of the most significant pieces of pugilistica to be made available to the public in recent years. LOA from PSA/DNA. LOA from James Spence Authentication.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2006
    28th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,648

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