Out With A Bang
Corbett and Jeffries fought at Coney Island, New York, on May 11, 1900. Many observers agreed that this fight was Corbett's finest, and a brilliant demonstration of "scientific" boxing over brute power. Jeffries was bigger, stronger, and nine years younger, but Corbett got the better of him for 22 rounds, consistently avoiding his opponent's boilermakers, and dancing in for quick jabs that soon bloodied his face. Clearly far ahead in points, Corbett had only to last the required 25 rounds to regain his championship title, but it was not to be. Jeffries finally managed to land one of his powerful blows, knocking Corbett out cold.
Corbett made one more attempt to regain the title from Jeffries three years later, at the age of 37, but he lost this match in the tenth round, and afterwards vowed to retire from boxing and devote himself full time to his acting career. Thereafter, he appeared regularly on Broadway, in theatrical tours around the United States and Europe, and in films as a popular box office draw. Corbett spent his final years with his wife Vera in Bayside, New York, where he died on February 18, 1933 of liver cancer. He had no children.
Credited with being the first to bring strategy, dexterity, and analytical thought to his sport, Corbett forever changed the nature of boxing. Often elegantly dressed and always well-mannered, Corbett attracted many new fans to boxing, including women. He brought a sense of refinement to a sport that had been seen simply as a contest between brutes. Such twentieth-century boxing greats as Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, and Mike Tyson all followed in Corbett's footsteps.