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“Third Round. First Knock Down for ‘The Boy’,”
New York Illustrated News. May 11, 1860, cover. Wood engraving.

     The first international boxing match to hold widespread public interest was held in Farnborough, England in 1860 between John C. “Benecia Boy” Heenan, who claimed to be the American champion in spite of the fact that bare-knuckled fighting was illegal in most of the United States, and the English Champion, Tom Sayers. More than 2,500 spectators, including twenty-year-old Thomas Nast on assignment from the New York Illustrated News, watched the bout, which ended in a draw after forty-two rounds. Within seven hours of the fight’s completion, Nast created two double-page illustrations detailing the event plus a cover drawing. The wood engraving blocks were then sent to Southamption where they were put aboard a ship bound for the United States. The boxwood plates were completed during the crossing so that a special edition of the newspaper could be printed as soon as possible after the ship docked in New York.

Third Round
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