Tale of the Tape
||20 July 1887
||St. Paul, Minnesota
||31 August 1956
||145 to 162 3/4 pounds
||Eddy Reddy & George Barton
Indisputably, Gibbons was a great defensive fighter,
mainly because of his tremendous footwork;
Alhough he never became a champion, Mike Gibbons is considered by many boxing
historians to be one of the top ten Welterwights/Middleweights of all time.
Gibbons learned to box at the YMCA in his native St. Paul. He turned
professional at the age of nineteen with a third-round knockout of Roy Moore and
was unbeaten in his first fourteen fights before losing a decision to Jimmy
Clabby. Indisputably, Gibbons was a great defensive fighter, mainly because of
his tremendous footwork. A footwork wizard who could wear an opponent out
with his defensive maneuvers, Gibbons could punch hard, too. As a young fighter,
he built a reputation that put him in line for the middleweight championship.
In 1912, the middleweight division had no recognized
champion. More than half a dozen fighters, including Gibbons and Eddie McGoorty,
claimed a right to the title. Gibbons signed to fight McGoorty with the winner
to be declared champion. The heavier McGoorty was the favorite by far, and
Gibbons employed his ring choreography not to beat McGoorty but to keep him from
winning. Gibbons constantly backpedaled and put on a great display of footwork
but he did not really fight. The newspapers awarded McGoorty the decision, but
the fight's lack of action kept him from gaining general acclaim as the
titleholder. Asked by a reporter why he had not fought more vigorously, Gibbons
replied, "Because you and every other writer said that McGoorty would beat me,
simply because he was ten pounds heavier than me. I decided to prove you were
wrong, and that he couldn't lay a glove on me. And he didn't. That's all I cared
Gibbons continued to fight successfully after the
McGoorty fight, and proved his mettle in a 1916 match with Hall of Famer Jack
Dillon. At the time, Dillon was reputed to have the best punch in all of boxing.
For ten rounds, Gibbon's eluded Dillon's attack and countered beautifully when
Dillon missed him. Gibbons won every round of the fight, according to those at
Gibbons fought for another six years, taking on Harry Greb,
among others. Even the blurringly fast Greb was confused by Gibbons, by then
known as the "Phantom of St. Paul." Greb shouted to his manager, "From now on,
match me with one guy at a time."
ranked by Ring magazine as one of the top ten middleweights of all time, Gibbons
never got a title fight. Originally a wrestler, he switched to professional
boxing in 1908. He won his first 12 of his first 13 fights, with 1 draw, and
claimed the middleweight championship after Stanley Ketchel died in 1910, but
wasn't recognized as champion.
Tommy Gibbons in a sparring match while
stationed at Camp
Because of eye damage suffered in the
ring, Gibbons retired in 1922. He later operated a gym, managed some fighters,
and promoted bouts. Gibbons also served on the Minnesota Boxing Commission.
Gibbons had 62 victories, 38 of them by knockout. He lost only 3 decisions, and
he also had 4 draws and 58 no-decisions.