Sunday, April 23, 1916. In the most intellectual circles of Barcelona, there was no another topic of conversation than the third centenary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, the Quijote’s author. But the matter of the day was the combat of boxing between Jack Jonson and Arthur Cravan.
The ambience in the Monumental (a new bullring in Barcelona) was warmed when it announced the first meeting «black against white» in the afternoon. Gus Rhodes faced Kid Johnson, who had already become one regular of the «Jack’s troupe». Despite of being prepared, the combat had a few promising beginnings. But there were complications in the outcome.
The filmmaker Ricard de Baños had arranged strategically to six «routiers» with their cameras at different points of the Monumental to film the big fight. Everything was ready, when the sky began to fill with clouds. Ramón, Ricard’s small brother and experienced operator, warned that if they were late in beginning the Jonson-Cravan combat they were registering the movie in very low conditions of light, which could throw to loose all the work. Ricard commented to Jack. Finished the fourth assault with Rhodes, Kid feigned not to be able to keep on fighting. Other «introductory» duels announced in the program, Munich-Seem and Martínez-Cutchet, remained deferred and, before the awaited thing, Jack Johnson and Arthur Cravan jumped to the ring.
The fans were glad, but his hopes of seeing a great fight did not last long. The boxer poet, with white trousers and short bathrobe of the same color, trod on the canvas very palely. Meanwhile the gloves were placing him, was necessary to sit in his corner because him the legs were trembling. His brother Otho tried to infuse encouragement from the corner, but Arthur was very afraid. Shortly before entering the ring, Johnson had threatened that he would beat him up.
«Don Jack» spent the strings with his eternal smile, wearing a striped coat and pants darker than the color of their skin. The American boxer was disappointed by the scarce entry. However, concealed and distributed smiles generously. Before the Chilean coach Tony Berton, doing the functions of referee, announced the beginning of the fight, the chief Bravo Portillo presented himself in the ring to remind participants that they could not overextend their attacks. The authorities ordered that the expected clash of the titans had just as a simple exhibition by decree law.
The fight was a complete failure. Gripped by fear, Arthur Cravan barely managed to move the site: unthinkable that an attack could in conditions against his rival. Johnson realized that they were offering to sorry sight, but have wanted to give swindle to Ricard could register the movie.
Cravan was disgracing during six rounds, since Johnson did not take him seriously and was laughing at him. Of has not spent between them what it spent behind the scenes, surely that had the chivalry of putting K.O. to the first round, with what a sad role had avoided him.
Jack was looking at Ricard to see if it was enough for the recorded movie. The filmmaker did not know what to say. He knew that this film had no value. The public, who so much had trusted in the possibilities of Cravan, was looking at the ring wonderingly. The combat was so bad that it was not even raising suspicions that it could be prepared. Suddenly, Johnson wanted to spice up the show, threw a punch against his rival and the nephew of Wilde collapsed.
The combat of the Monumental could finish in scandal, but Jack and Gus improvised some exercises to entertain the public. Later, there were carried out two remaining fights, which did not shine for his quality either, although the participants were used by major ardor without fear to the suspension. Frustrated and indignant, some spectator did threat of starting a rain of chairs on the ring. The strong police device of Bravo Portillo avoided any type of disorder. In the following hours, the enormous disappointment didn’t manage to end with the topic of the boxing. Since it generated a passionate debate on the expediency of this sports practices.