When Stanley (Steve) Ketchel was murdered in 1910 by a ranch hand who felt he had alienated the affections of a lady, there were those who said, "That's not the first double cross Steve tried. Remember last year's fight with Jack Johnson?" They were recalling the meeting of the two at Colma, Calif. on October 16,1909 for the heavyweight championship of the world, when Jack and Stanley had been brought together by mutual need for a good money fight. The Negro Johnson had defended his title with an indolent skill which affronted white customers and frightened potential challengers. Business was not good. Meanwhile, slugging Stanley had cleaned up the middleweight field with a fearful zest, skipping only a squatty Negro Hercules named Sam Langford. It was obvious that the big money lay for Ketchel in a match with Johnson and Jack agreed to allow Stanley to last the scheduled 20 rounds with the understanding that Stanley would not try to take the heavyweight title. He felt the fight would draw a big crowd, and that he could improve his sorry financial position without too much effort.
When the two champions squared off, Johnson weighed 205½ to Ketchel's 170¼. From the start, Johnson boxed cautiously, jabbing with his left and using his right chiefly for blocking. Looking like a lightweight before the towering Negro, Ketchel bored in, but his punches had little effect. Jack was wary, for there was some question in his mind as to how far he could trust Ketchel. But as the tame contest-continued, Jack flashed his gold-toothed smile, feeling increasingly confident of his foe's good faith. Ketchel set his blood-streaked features and waited. In the twelfth round he saw his opening. Stanley swung a wicked right just below Jack's ear. Johnson dropped in stunned surprise. But Ketchel had just time to smile before a grim black fury leaped up and met him with a fearful right uppercut. The punch dropped Stanley as if he'd been maced. It landed on his mouth, broke off all his front teeth at the gums and stretched him senseless. Later, while musing over the attempted double cross in his dressing room, Jack picked two of Ketchel's teeth out of his right glove.
Heading Floorward after Ketchel's surprise blow (above), Johnson is already prepared to leap up after his opponent. Seconds later picture is reversed (right), with Johnson shaking his head over folly of his fallen foe.
Before fight, Ketchel and Johnson posed with Promoter Jim Coffroth. Their battle was held at Coffroth's Arena.