Johnny Basham - Boxing Career - The Lonsdale Belt and The European Title

The Lonsdale Belt and The European Title

Basham was awarded the Lonsdale Belt on 21 December 1914 at the National Sporting Club after winning it from Johnny Summers becoming the first outright winner of the welterweight version of the belt. Tony Lee in his 2009 book All in My Corner, states that "By 1914, Freddie Welsh, Jim Driscoll, Newport's Johnny Basham and Jimmy Wilde had all won the Lonsdale Belts outright;". A Wrexham County Council heritage site records Basham taking the belt both in 1914 and in 1916. The National Library of Wales records Basham winning the Lonsdale Belt in 1916, while The Toronto World newspaper of May 1916 writes that Basham was the holder of the Lonsdale Belt when he faced Badoud in their European title encounter in October 1915.

Basham's career as a professional fighter slowed during the First World War, with Boxrec only recording 13 fights for Basham during the war period. Basham was posted as sergeant physical training officer in the British Expeditionary Force in France, making competitive fighting difficult. Basham was one of a group of fighters, known as 'The Famous Six', who were an elite corps of Army Physical Training Instructors under the command of Captain Bruce Logan. The other five men were Jim Driscoll, Jimmy Wilde, Bombardier Billy Wells, Pat O'Keefe and Dick Smith. At the London Opera House in March 1915, Basham won a 15-round fight "on points" against Matt Wells. In May 1915, Basham fought against Summers in a non-title fight at Liverpool Stadium. The fight went the distance with Basham being given the decision on points. In May 1915 the National Sporting Club arranged Basham's first defence of his welterweight title, his opponent being Tom McCormick who had held the title briefly in 1914. The twenty round fight lasted until the thirteenth when Basham stopped McMormick through a technical knockout. Basham knocked out Dan Roberts during the seventh round at a 13 August fight in Liverpool. On 22 October 1915, a fight was arranged for the vacant EBU (European) welterweight title between Basham and Swiss fighter Albert Badoud. Basham has fought Badoud twice previously, both ending in wins for the Welshman, but in the title encounter Badoud stopped Basham through a ninth round knockout.

In 1916 Basham defended his British title for the second time, again at the National Sporting Club in Covent Garden, facing Scotsman Eddie Beattie. The match went as far as the nineteenth before Beattie was stopped via a technical knockout. Basham fought sporadically throughout the rest of the war years, mainly in Liverpool. Basham won over Sid Burns in May 1917 in Holborn, London. In December 1918, Balsham beat private A. Tierney at the British Empire and American Services Boxing Tournament held at the Royal Albert Hall.

On 27 January 1919, with the war behind him, Basham was again invited to the National Sporting Club where he beat American fighter Eddie Shevlin, who was introduced as the U.S. Navy's Welterweight Champion, after 15 rounds. Basham won on points, and after beating Kid Doyle in February, he was called for a rematch at Covent Garden against Shevlin, where Basham again won with a points decision. He followed this with a draw against American Augie Ratner and then a win over London fighter Willie Farrell on 22 July in Liverpool, which opened up another shot at the European Welterweight title.

Albert Badoud had successfully defended the European Welterweight title in August 1919, against Frenchman Francis Charles, but by the following month he had vacated the title, which allowed both Charles and Basham to contest the welterweight belt. The fight was arranged for 2 September at the Olympia in London and was scheduled for 20 three minute rounds. The bout went the full distance, with the result going to Basham on points, making him the European Welterweight Champion.

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