Which was the longest world title fight in boxing history?

According to Guinness World Records, the longest world title fight, under Queensberry Rules, which were introduced in 1867, was a lightweight contest between American Joe ‘Old Master’ Gans, the defending champion, and Oscar Mattheus ‘Battling’ Nelson, a.k.a. ‘The Durable Dane’, at the Casino Amphitheatre in Goldfield, Nevada on September 3, 1906.

Under London Prize Ring Rules, which preceded Queensberry Rules, only a knockdown brought about the end of a round, but even after the introduction of scheduled, three-minute rounds, followed by a minute of rest, 45-round title fights were still the order of the day. In the original ‘Fight of the Century’, Gans, who had to waste particularly hard to make the 133lb lightweight limit, broke a bone in his hand 33 rounds into the epic bout, but fought on, feigning a leg injury to camouflage his actual disability.

Finally, after over two hours of fighting in the oppressive 100°F heat of the Mojave Desert, as darkness fell, in the forty-second round, Nelson sensed victory and, by his own admission, ‘went after him [Gans] hammer and tongs, determined to knock him out.’ He didn’t, but instead caught Gans, not for the first time, with an illegal low blow, which resulted in his disqualfication. Nelson later insisted that his final punch was a legitimate ‘hard left half-scissors hook to the liver’.

Gans contracted tuberculosis, which would eventually kill him, at the age of just 35, shortly afterwards. Nonetheless, he fought Nelson twice more for the World Lightweight Title, at the Mission Street Arena in Colma, California in July and September, 1908. In one-sided affairs, he was knocked out by Nelson on both occasions and fought just ocne more before his death on August 10, 1910.

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