Johnson-Dempsey in their primes would naturally be a hell of a fight. I think
Dempsey would have trouble with Johnson's awkward style and aggravating
self-confidence. At the same time, I think Johnson would be bothered by
Dempsey's constant offense and fearlessness.
Let me speculate...
Jack Johnson vs. Jack Dempsey, 15 rounds, World Heavyweight Title
Round 1. Dempsey chases the nimble Johnson around the ring, trying to land a
few solid punches to see how soft his slightly taller opponent is. Johnson
moves around the ring, but doesn't cower; rather, he watches and dances.
Dempsey is still chasing him as the bell rings. Johnson grins and looks calm
and confident. Round to Dempsey.
Rounds 2-4. Dempsey figures it's best not to waste energy by chasing his foe,
and instead waits to see if Johnson will approach him. Johnson does,
cautiously. Many moments pass where the two are in the center of the ring,
Johnson with hands high, Dempsey crouching low and looking for an opening.
Dempsey digs to the body, Johnson counters with flurries to the head. Dempsey
figures he's mincing Johnson's innards, but by the end of each round, Johnson is
still grinning and still self-assured. Dempsey is fed up with the fooling
around. Rounds 2 & 3, Dempsey; Round 4, Johnson.
Round 5. Dempsey finally catches Johnson unawares and floors him, early in the
round. The crowd roars; Dempsey awaits impatiently, as this is a great chance
to finish off a hardy opponent early. Johnson rises, not grinning, but with a
serious look. Dempsey immediately chases the running Johnson, missing badly and
growing frustrated. Johnson, his legs strong and his mind clearing, tags the
sagging Dempsey by the end of the round. Round to Dempsey.
Round 6. Dempsey, burned up by his *** in the 5th and awaiting another
opening in Johnson's high-handed defense, goes back to the body and waits out
the round. Johnson is content to take the abuse, protecting his upper body, and
scoring with flurries to Dempsey's exposed head. Round even.
Rounds 7-9. Dempsey takes big swings at Johnson, who is by now wide awake and
too quick for his foe. Johnson patiently awaits for Dempsey to sag somewhat by
the end of the rounds, when he drives Dempsey to the ropes for the first time
and grapples with him there. He's grinning again by rounds' ends. Dempsey is
disgusted with himself and with his arrogant opponent. Rounds 7-9, Johnson.
Rounds 10-12. Johnson firmly in control. Dempsey decides late in the fight to
use his reach advantage and try to box Johnson midring, but Johnson ducks and
bobs and grapples and clinches, rendering Dempsey's strategic change useless.
Dempsey switches to attack mode by the end of each round, hoping his
extraordinary conditioning will crack Johnson's will, but Johnson does enough to
stay out of range. He lays on impressive flurries that make Dempsey look
embarrassingly one-dimensional. Rounds 10-12, Johnson.
Round 13. Dempsey switches back to body blows, but his punches have lost their
steam. Johnson now tags Dempsey at will, and despite the abuse to his
midsection, gingerly prances around his opponent. Dempsey's mind seems to
wander, him not being used to late rounds. Johnson isn't doing anything special
to hurt Dempsey, but he scores with constant offense. Journalists at ringside
wonder if Dempsey is playing possum to lure Johnson into a trap by fight's end.
Round to Johnson.
Round 14. Johnson, muscling Dempsey to the ropes, wrestles and teases Dempsey
with solid, intermittent blows. Dempsey, tiring but unhurt, unleashes a single
ferocious right hand that staggers the surprised Johnson. Johnson again
switches to his high-handed defensive posture and backs off. Dempsey, waking
up, slugs to Johnson's body and awaits an opening. Dempsey finally forces
Johnson into a corner, and applies a beating of his own at long last. But
Johnson--beginning to tire noticeably--rolls with the blows, protects his head,
and lets Dempsey outpunch himself. By the end of the round, Dempsey has his
head in Johnson's chest and is flailing away, but is not hurting the patient
Johnson seriously. Round to Dempsey.
Round 15. Dempsey, more angry than desperate, calls out from the center of the
ring to the waiting Johnson. Johnson grins and approaches. They lock arms and
grapple. Dempsey, his mouth open, his brow knotted, tries to bash at Johnson's
exposed head with his dangerous right. Johnson ties Dempsey's arms up enough to
make him miss frequently. Dempsey takes a step back, and in that moment Johnson
launches a surprising flurry of blows that drives Dempsey to the ropes. Dempsey
nearly stumbles and falls, and the crowd misinterprets it as a hurt stagger.
For the rest of the round, the rapidly tiring Johnson is content to poke at
Dempsey while crossing his arms and fending off Dempsey's looping blows. He
takes a few powerful punches, but seems almost to smile as though unhurt. As
the bell rings, Johnson is practically leaning against Dempsey, who continues to
punch as the referee pries them apart. Round to Dempsey.
No marks on Johnson, aside from inflamed ears and bruised ribs. Dempsey's eyes
are semi-swollen, but no other marks or cuts. The crowd favors Dempsey, who
finished while still punching.
Referee announces his decision. 1 round even, 6 rounds to Dempsey, 8 rounds to
Johnson. Johnson wins. Dempsey calls for an immediate rematch. Johnson grins
and tells Dempsey that he'll get back with him on that at a later date.