In 1888, “Little Chocolate” George Dixon was really just getting his fists calloused in the boxing business after trying it out in 1886 and 1887. He started the year with a string of victories before falling into two draws then picking it up against with two wins. That momentum was cut short when he ran into Hank Brennan in Boston.
Vs. Hank Brennan
The strange thing about this series is that Brennan is an unknown. Obviously, he was a fighter of some skill and conditioning but it’s unknown if he came from the bare-fisted boxing scene or if he was simply a natural pugilist who went pro. Also, his documented bouts were all against George Dixon.
At any rate, he derailed the momentum of this rising star in three straight matches but the fights really put Dixon on the map. The first match between the two is in June 1888 and ends in 14-rounds. Their second match at the start of December went 9-rounds and also ended in a draw.
Match three occurs on December 28, 1888, and ends in a 15-round draw. Dixon would start 1889 off with a victory over Patsy Kelley in late-January but most of 1889 was a poor showing for the pioneer. Their final bout came in October of that year and would see both pugilists draw in a 26-rounder.
After the final match of their series, Hank Brennan pretty much disappears. George Dixon on the other hand returned to form and would march into a number of reported bouts and title matches.
One such match would see him match leather with another iron horse competitor in “The Wonder” Cal McCarthy.
Vs. Cal McCarthy
Entering the bout as the Featherweight Champion, McCarthy was said to be a fighter who “lived fast and died young” passing at 26. A little under three years earlier McCarthy won the Featherweight title at 18. The February 1890 contest would be a showcase of both boxer’s reserves of stamina and command of the ring.
The match was fairly even with the champion doing his best to keep his title out of Dixon’s clutches. Dixon would score several damaging blows that rocked McCarthy in the early rounds of this long match but never really managed to sink the champion. For the most part, McCarthy was on defense and starting to wear down midway through the contest as was Dixon. A power bout became a tactical one as the two attempted to reserve stamina and pick their shots but those opportunities were far and few between for the two champions.
By the 65th round the two were slugging on fumes and the referee eventually checked with both men to see if they wanted to end the bout. The two agreed and the first Dixon vs. McCarthy bout ended in 70-round and almost 5 hours.
Their second showdown at the end of March 1891 was another lengthy affair that ended in defeat for the Featherweight Champion. George Dixon would catch Cal McCarthy with a shot that knocked him out in the 22nd round.