Christmas Boxing: Famous Festive Fights

Christmas is just another day for fighters. Regardless of the holiday season, it's business as usual.

Throughout boxing history, legendary names have gloved up and taken to the ring rather than indulging in the usual festivities.

This Christmas period, BOXRAW look back at the legendary names who were involved in famous festive fights.

Joe Gans vs. Kid Herman (1907)

Gans and Herman battled it out on New Year's Day, 1907.

While many feel the self-inflicted effects of the festivities on New Year’s Day, Kid Herman was left with a different type of headache on the first day of 1907.

Herman was feeling the force of a devastating knockout defeat at the hands of boxing’s first-ever African-American world champion, Joe Gans.

‘The Old Master’ earned an eighth-round stoppage success after landing a flush right hook on his challenger, as he made a successful defence of his lightweight crown to celebrate the New Year in style in Nevada.

Gans would reign throughout the following year and go down in history as one of the division’s all-time great champions. Sadly, he died just two years later from tuberculosis at just 35 years old.

Jack Johnson vs. Tommy Burns (1908)

Johnson made history on Boxing Day, 1908.Undoubtedly the biggest and most prominent fight to have ever taken place over the festive period happened on Boxing Day, 1908.

In one of the most culturally significant events in sporting history, Jack Johnson became boxing’s first-ever black world heavyweight champion in Sydney, Australia.

Toying with the outclassed defending champion, Tommy Burns, ‘The Galveston Giant’ finally ended the one-sided beatdown in the 14th round. To avoid any video evidence of a black man knocking out a white man, cameras were shut off and the police stormed the ring to call a halt to the pummelling.

This historic victory began Johnson’s iconic seven-year reign as heavyweight ruler and marked a seismic moment in the fight for racial equality.

Harry Greb vs. Tommy Loughran (1923)

Greb took on rival Loughran on Christmas Day, 1923.Regarded by most historians as the greatest prize-fighter of all-time, Harry Greb fought anyone, anywhere, at anytime - even on Christmas Day.

‘The Pitsburgh Windmill’ was scheduled to defend his middleweight world title against challenger Tommy Loughran on Christmas Day, 1923. But, perhaps tucking into Christmas dinner a little prematurely, Loughran missed the weight limit by more than eight pounds to make it a non-title bout.

Greb handed Loughran a season’s beating over 10 rounds, prevailing by decision in what was the fifth of six total meetings between these two eventual Hall of Fame legends. The victor here was the series ruler with four wins overall, while Loughran notched a single triumph and the pair battled to a draw in their other meeting.

Tragically, Greb would only live to see two more Christmas Days, while Loughran later became light-heavyweight world champion in his illustrious career.

Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Hans Stretz (1950)

Robinson prevailed on Christmas Day in Germany, 1950.The great Sugar Ray Robinson was in no mood for any festive spirit on Christmas Day, 1950.

Homesick in Germany and fresh off an overnight train journey from Paris alongside his entourage, Robinson handed Hans Stretz a merciless beating.

Eager to get the job done and go home, he dropped the home challenger within 30 seconds of the opening bell and seven times overall - finally ending the festive drubbing in the fifth round.

This was the final fight on Robinson’s famous European tour, as he tested himself at middleweight in preparation for facing Jake LaMotta in the legendary ‘St. Valentine’s Day Massacre’ two months later.

It was also the 30-year-old’s fourth knockout win from five fights in 29 days during a 91-fight win streak; while this is believed to have been the first time a world champion ever fought in Germany.

Robinson earned $50,000 for his five-round demolition but, in true Sugar Ray style, he had spent every penny before sailing home two days later.

Kid Chocolate vs. Frankie Klick (1933)

Kid Chocolate was involved in another of the famous Christmas boxing fights.It was a glum Christmas Day to forget for Cuban legend Kid Chocolate in 1933.

Cuba’s first-ever world champion was on the decline by this stage of his classy career and, sadly, proved to be routine work for Frankie Klick.

Perhaps still recovering from a KO loss to Tony Canzoneri just a month prior, he was stopped in seven rounds by Klick to lose his super-featherweight title in Philadelphia.

Following the fight, it was revealed that he was suffering from syphilis, which saw him retire soon after. Although, he returned and won a further 47 of 50 fights before a final retirement and eventual return to Cuba for a quieter life.

Jake LaMotta vs. Danny Nardico (1952)

The legendary LaMotta's career was nearing an end on New Year's Eve, 1952.Known as ‘The Bronx Bull’, Jake LaMotta endured a disastrous New Year’s Eve clash against Danny Nardico in 1952.

In Florida, LaMotta was sent crashing to the canvas for the first time in 103 fights and was punched up so badly that his corner eventually pulled him out at the conclusion of the seventh round.

The legendary former middleweight champion, immortalised in the iconic movie ‘Raging Bull’, was left to spend the New Year pondering his future, which ended up after just three more bouts.

Header image: Allsport Hulton