Remembering the Incredible Packey McFarland!

Remembering the Incredible Packey McFarland!

Looking at Boxrec, I couldn’t believe the record of lightweight Packey McFarland. Was it 70-0-5 or 106-1-6?

Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992, listed at 64-1-5. Any of these records are unbelievable, especially since I have never fought for a world title.

One of several excellent World War l-era fighters who never won titles. Packey McFarland held his own with the very best. Not a brawler by nature.

McFarland gained experience fighting in the Chicago stockyards. When he knocked out a fellow employee in a lunch-hour match. McFarland decided to adopt boxing as his vocation. Turning pro at the age of sixteen. McFarland initially fought on handball courts in the Irish neighborhoods of Chicago.

Because the crowds demanded it, McFarland employed a fine knock-out punch in his early encounters. Later, as his career developed, McFarland became better known for his boxing skills.

In fact, he expressed a distinct lack of interest in knocking out opponents, preferring to win by decision. Going east for the first time, McFarland decisioned highly touted Bert Keyes in Boston in 1908. He then won a decision over Freddie Welsh before fighting him to a 25-round draw in a rematch in Los Angeles. A third bout with Welsh in London also resulted in a draw.

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Though McFarland was highly regarded, he was never given a shot at the lightweight title held by Battling Nelson. McFarland usually fought above the lightweight limit, which was then 133 pounds.

McFarland fought Jack Britton three times. The first bout, held in Memphis, was called a draw, although Chicago newspapers declared Britton the winner. In two no-decision rematches, Britton and McFarland fought very evenly.

McFarland closed his career by fighting in a much-ballyhooed contest with the clever Hall of Famer Mike Gibbons, but the ten-round fight was a fop, with neither fighter landing any significant punches.

In retirement, McFarland managed his sizable investments, was director of two banks, and also served on the Illinois State Athletic Commission.

Boxing historian Tracy Callis wrote. “Packey McFarland was a fast and clever boxer with exceptional skills. He possessed an educated left jab, stiff punches, fast feet, and savvy boxing that always kept him a step ahead of his opponent. Packey was one of the greatest fighters to ever hail from Chicago.”

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McFarland boxed as a lightweight and welterweight from 1904 to 1915. According to BoxRec, he had 113 fights. He won 50 by knockout, 36 by newspaper decision, and 20 by judges’ decision. He only lost one bout in his career.

On July 13, 1904, 16-year-old McFarland lost to a fighter named Dusty Miller. Some report the result as a fifth-round knockout, while others claim it was a newspaper decision.

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