Levine is Skilled Match for Welterweight Champ

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Evening News/March 10, 1926

In the little old Broadway club the other night, way down deep in Brooklyn, I beheld a fighter that I believe is Mickey Walker’s most dangerous contender for the welterweight title. 

He is Georgie Levine, a Wiilliamsburg Hebrew, dark-visaged, thin-flanked, cunning, ice-cold and wicked, the type of fighter that Benny Leonard was a few years ago and looking much like Leonard in general appearance. I saw this Levine administer a terrific shellacking to Tommy Milligan, who claims the welterweight and middleweight championships of all Europe.

Milligan had made something of an impression on New York ring-worms in three battles in the arena of the big town. He is rated by the New York Athletic Commission, so I am informed, as first in the line of title contenders in the welterweight division, with Joe Dundee, of Baltimore, second to him.

I do not know just how the New York Commission arrives at its ratings, unless it is on the basis of personal regard. The commissioners cannot have seen Jimmy Finley, of Kentucky, now fighting on the west coast; Al Mello, of Massachusetts; Georgie Ward, of New Jersey; or half a dozen others I might name. They surely have not seen Levine, a native New Yorker.

Yet Levine is no over-night flash. He. has been coming up for over a year through the rasping schooling of the little clubs, where a man meets tough opponents for mighty small money. It is a bitter, cruel education, but it makes the fighter.

Up in the Commonwealth Club, in Harlem. Levine has beaten the bard-bitten old Panama Joe Gans, and the leathery black Frisco McGale, with the galleryites snarling at him and hurling missiles into the ring. The lean Hebrew has struggled through desperate glove duels in nearly every tiny out-of-the-way club in the big city. He has served as a sparring partner to Mickey Walker in the champion’s training camp.

He has undergone the hardest grind of the Manly Art of Scrambling Ears, but he has survived it with scarcely a mark on him, and the result is a finished, graceful fighter who knows his business thoroughly—a potential champion. If he should meet Walker for the title I would hesitate about picking the winner, because Walker’s style of fighting is the style that Levine knows how to overcome. It is exactly suited to the Williamsburg boy.

He is a slashing fellow in action, a very smart boxer and a good puncher. Against Milligan he displayed more real ring craft than any fighter I have seen in some time. He outgeneraled, outboxed and outfought the overseas champion from start to finish. Incidentally Levine demonstrated during the battle that he can take a body punching. 

Milligan fought a foul fight, constantly using his elbows and throwing many punches very low, but Levine merely smiled a thin, saturnine smile and kept on fighting. He displayed great aggressiveness throughout and fought with amazing confidence.

He has a knack of turning and spinning an opponent, and tying him up in the clinches. He sidesteps a rush much after the manner of Mike Gibbons in the days when the St. Paul phantom was a shadowy, elusive ringman.

They say that Levine has been something of an in-and-outer heretofore, fighting great battles one night, and putting up indifferent showings another night. He did not take his business seriously, perhaps because he did not feel that he was getting on rapidly enough. Youth is impatient.

But just before the fight with Milligan, the Williamsburg Hebrew had taken a decision over Paul Doyle, one of the toughest welterweights in the game, and he fought like a champion against Milligan. Often these youngsters find themselves overnight. Levine will be a hard man for anyone to beat from now on.

He has real class. He boxes in an upright position, but he is always on the move. He picked up a couple of Mickey Walker’s tricks while working with the welterweight champion as a sparring partner, but he is a better boxer than Walker. He is about the best box-fighter of all the welterweights in my opinion, at least on the form he displayed against Milligan.

Levine is now about twenty-two years old. He gave an astonishing display of ring courage when he was just starting out at eighteen in a fight with Dave Shade, of California. He went fourteen rounds against Shade before he fell exhausted.

Levine then went to the Pacific Coast and did some little boxing in the four-round game. It is only within the rest year that he has commenced to find himself, however. The lads who bet on these demonstrations of The Manly Art of Scrambling Ears made Milligan a 3-to-1 favorite over Levine, but the price would have been no better than even money had they bothered to analyze Levine’s record, and studied his improvement. 

Despite the result of the Brooklyn battle, I understand the New York State Athletic Commission still insists that Milligan is to have first chance at Walker’s title in this state. This is very nice for Walker, as Milligan is made to order for him, but Levine, and perhaps Joe Dundee of Baltimore, would worry Walker a lot more.

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