The Cyber Boxing Bio
For most of it's truncated existence, the Junior Welterweight division has been one of the most maligned in boxing. At the same time, in it's ranks of champions there are some of the most storied names in boxing's history: Canzoneri, Ross, Ortiz, Loi, Loche, Cervantes, Benitez, Pryor & Chavez. All of them are current hall of famer's; or will be.
There is one more storied name to place on that list: The one, the only . . . "Whitechapel Whirlwind," boxing immortal, Jackie "Kid" Berg. Berg, born Judah Bergman, was a Cockney Jew from East London who exploded upon the American boxing scene against the very tough top ten contender, Pedro Amador (W-10), in Chicago, on May 31, 1928. This was considered a real upset as British fighters (as they are to this day), were considered little more than cannon fodder for their much tougher Yankee foes. The Chicago fight fans had expected your typical British fighter: stand up classic stance, no upper body movement & a chin made out of the tenderest of porcelains. . . Instead they saw a whirling dervish who threw punches from every conceivable angle at a work rate which legendary trainer, Ray Arcel said exceeded even Greb's & Armstrong's.
Jackie followed this bout with wins over Johnny Mellow & Freddie Meuller (W-10). Berg won his next four fights in rapid succession & was then matched with "The Fargo Express", fellow future hall of famer, Billy Petrolle. Petrolle is pretty much forgotten today, but along with Charley Burley he has to be ranked as one of the two greatest fighters to have never won a title. Jackie firmly established his bona fides by fighting to a furious draw with the great "Fargo Express", on July 26th, who at that time was at the peak of his outstanding career. In a rematch with Billy (August 24th), he didn't fare very well. Petrolle caught him on a bad night & brutalized him with eleven knockdowns before he finally starched him in the 5th round. This was the "Kid's" first KO loss in 70 fights. In October, Berg returned against Spug Myers & was the victim of a horrendous low blow & won on a foul (W-F3).
Depressed & very sore in his nether regions, Berg returned to London to lick his wounds. By December 6th he had recovered enough to win the British Lightweight title from Alf Mancini (W-15).
Berg started off 1929 with wins over Lucien Vinez (January 12-W-15) & a rematch with Mancini on February 12 (W-15). Jackie actually took a three month break from fighting before he returned to the States & beat top ten ranked lightweight contender Bruce Flowers twice, both by ten round decision on May 10th & 23rd.
Berg fought the rest of the year in New York City with one excursion to Chicago. Out of his 17 fights that year, all against top of the line fighters he won all of them with the exception of one draw against the rugged Stanislaus Loaysa.
1930 was the high water mark of the Whitechapel Whirlwind's career. He began the year with a bang, out pointing the immortal Tony Canzoneri on January 16 (W-10), in which he dealt Tony one of his most ferocious beatings. He followed that up with a rematch against Mushy Callahan who he had decisioned the year before in a non-title match (W-10), with a KO in the 10th, for the Jr. Welter title in London on February 18th.
Jackie's goal had always been the lightweight championship & he devoted the rest of 1930 to cleaning out the lightweight division in hopes of a shot at the (then) more legitimate lightweight crown. In the nine non-title bouts he engaged in the rest of the year, all against top 5 lightweight contenders he won them all. . . The highlight victory's were against nemesis Billy Petrolle (W-10) & the ending of another all-time great's winning streak, Kid Chocolate at 66 bouts (W-10). Chocolate was one of the greatest fighters to ever lace up the gloves-as amazing a phenom as the modern day Roy Jones Jr. & Berg's defeat of the "Kid" sent shock waves thru boxing's cogneseti .
At that point Berg was considered among the five best pound-for-pound fighters in the world & on April 24th 1931 he was granted a shot at Tony Canzoneri's lightweight title. Unfortunately . . . this is were the worm turned for Jackie. Canzoneri beat the crap outta Berg & flattened him in 3. Canzoneri also claimed Berg's Junior Welterweight title as both were under 140 pounds. Berg was given a rematch five months later in Madison Square Garden. In a foul-infested bout in which Berg suffered at least three severe low blows, two knockdowns & a terrible gash below the eye, Canzoneri battered him enough too retain his titles by unanimous decision (W-15).
Even though Berg fought on for another decade that was the end of his career as a prime-time performer. Jackie, like fellow Jr. Welter champ Aaron Pryor; was one of those gifted athletes that was destined to blaze hotly like a comet streaking across the fistic sky's only to burn out suddenly, without warning. . . & leave nothing but the memories of their too-brief past glories.