Welterweight Class Crowded with Talent

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Evening News/March 11, 1926

Ere my remarks concerning Georgie Levin, the dark-visaged Willamsburg Hebrew, were cold in print yesterday, the indefatigable Mr. Jersey Jones had weighed in with a communication bearing on welterweights in general.

Mr. Jersey Jones is a trim youth who abandoned the Fourth Estate for the Manly Art of Scrapping Ears some time ago and who is a busy little cup of tea with a typewriter. He is associated in The Manly Art of Scrambling Ears with the Messrs Jimmie Bronson and Lou Brown, who have a large and interesting collection of pugilistic fauna, including one Meyer Cohen, a Welterweight of Holyoke, Mass.

It is of Meyer Cohen that Mr. Jersey Jones really speaks in his communication, but he has a lot of words about other welterweights, and he mentions the indubitable fact that this division at present time carries more pugilistic class than any of the others.

Moreover, he names as one of the great welterweights of the country a youth that I said is one of several the New York State Athletic Commission could not have seen when it put forward Tommy Milligan as the leading contender for Mickey Walker’s title with Joe Dundee, of Baltimore, as the runner-up. This youth is Al Mello, of Lowell. Mass, the best southpaw fighter since the days of Lew Tendler.

Mr. Jersey Jones was behind Tommy Milligan over in the New Broadway Club in Brooklyn the night Georgia Levine gave Thomas a terrific shellacking. Also Mr. Jersey Jones was behind Wee Willie Woods, of Scotland, who was ingloriously stopped by little Johnny Breelin, of the New York West Side, whose name you have often read in this column as one of the most promising of flyweights.

“He shall hereafter be Mr. Jersey Jonah,” unkindly remarked the astute Mr. Ed Van Every of the Evening World, who sat to the loo’ard of me.

Be that as it may, Mr. Jersey Jones thinks well of Al Mello, and he presents the information that Meyer Cohen gave Mello a tough battle not long ago as a feather in Cohen’s cap. Melio got the decision, but Mr. Jersey Jones claims that Cohen had the Lowell sidewinder very tipsy in the sixth.

He says he thinks Mello can whip most of the welterweights in the country. He says he is a fast, clever boxer, and a sharpshooter with either hand, and points out that in the past year Mello has knocked out Eddie Shevlin and Bob Lowery and taken decisions from Jimmy Jones and Morris Schlafer.

Mello is only twenty years old, which makes him a little too young for the New York trade. He could engage only in six rounders here. A lot of the best fighters are too young for New York, and some of those they are showing in the large city are too old for any other place.

I have heard much of Al Mello, although I have never seen him in action. If he can beat Georgie Levine I will concede that he is a great fighter. I think Levine has real boxing class, and he ought to go a long way if he takes his business seriously.

Meyer Cohen formerly operated as Kid Carson, so Mr. Jersey Jones informs me. He has knocked out Pete Scrarano. Vic Woody. Henry Journet, Gene Mars and Joe Carlo, and beaten Tracy Ferguson, Sheik Leonard, Jimmy Kelly, Vincent Forgione. Joe Saviola. Barney Shaw, Wop Manoleum, Pip Damis and Al Sears.

I mention these names, not so much because of their importance, as to show the omnivorous reader what we have in the way of nomenclature in the welterweight division. Some of these young men are very tough in spite of their obscurity. Meyer Cohen must be pretty tough himself.

Mr. Jersey Jones says that with Micky Walker, the champion, leading the procession, there is plenty of class behind him in Georgie Levine, Jack Zivic. Tommy Milligan, George Ward, Willie Harmon, Joe Dundee, Al Mello, Bermondsey Billy Wells. Jack McVey, Sailor Friedman. Jimmy Finley, Morrie Schlaifer, Tommy Freeman, Jack Rappaport, Frankie Schoell, Paul Doyle, Oakland Jimmy Duffy and many, many others.

He does not speak of Dave Shade as a welterweight, he says, because Shad announced some time ago that he was forsaking the welters for the middleweights. He adds, however, that Shads can make 147 pounds at 2 o’clock with hard work and that as a welterweight he must be rated right at the top. 

I shall undoubtedly hear from scores and scores of managers of welterweights whose names are omitted from the above list, but I place the responsibility for these omissions upon Mr. Jersey Jones. Life, I should say, is much too short to keep track of all the welterweights in the business.

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