TBD by Editorial
Allsport Hulton/Archive

James J. Corbett

1892-97

"Gentleman Jim" is generally credited with helping to elevate boxing from a form of back-alley brawling to legitimate sport. By feinting and jabbing his way to a 21st-round knockout of John L. Sullivan in 1892, Corbett captured the title from the inaugural world heavyweight champ and validated a craft more befitting today's version of the sweet science.

Corbett made just one successful defense of his title, a third-round knockout of Charley Mitchell in 1894. Three years later, Bob Fitzsimmons wore Corbett down for a 14th-round knockout in Carson City, Nev. Corbett nearly won back the title when he outboxed the larger and younger James J. Jeffries in 1900, but he was caught and finished by a short left hand to the jaw in Round 23.