|The Cyber Boxing Zone: Book excerpt|
Chapter4: Fritzie Zivic and the Pittsburgh Fight ClubAt the beginning of 1938, Steve Cox, a fight promoter in the city, realised a personal ambition when he set up the 'Pittsburgh Fight Club'. The idea behind this venture was to hold a boxing event every week with shows that would feature the cities up and coming fighters in action against each other and against imported pugilists. Mr. Cox figured that there was enough talent locally, each with good support, to justify such a proposal. He also felt that local fighters would welcome a regular pay-day, something that many of them had not been getting.
The plan was to feature these fighters in four round bouts in what were hoped to be short, but exciting affairs, much like the recent showing at the Etna Elks amateur 'Diamond Belt' tournament. The crowd had really enjoyed that nights action and Mr. Cox and his matchmaker Jack 'Butch' Hollister knew that the Pittsburgh fight fans would enjoy shorter, more action packed professional fights as opposed to some of the long winded eight or ten round affairs which had recently left the paying customers baying for blood. To secure the services of Pittsburgh's young talent Cox and Holister approached local managers asking them to sign up and support the club. Johnny Ray, manager of Billy Conn, offered his services and those of his novice fighters among whom was 'Mean' Irv Sarlin, Mt. Olive heavyweight protege. Another of the local fighters to become involved with the club was Ralph Gizzy, who had recently experienced a change in fortune and was winning regularly. The Duquesne Gardens in Oakland was chosen as the regular venue for the clubs weekly fights. Zach Robinson, Mimmie DeMore, Casey Rodes, Rich Gregory and Charley Burley were among other newcomers to offer their services. This new promotional set-up appeared to make Goldstien a happier manager, as Hollister and Cox were attempting to operate outside of the promotional net of local big wheel Jake Mintz and his connections further afield.
The first show on January 27th turned out to be a disappointment for the promoters as the gate for the evenings entertainment totalled only $658.70. They refused to become too down-hearted however, as the talent on display was equal to, if not better than, any of the cities previous debut offerings. Instead, they consoled themselves with the fact that the poor showing could have been accredited to mother nature, who saw fit to intervene with a heavy snowstorm hitting town barely an hour before fight time. The fledgling promoters felt this definitely kept many casual fight fans at home.
Despite many substitutions and switching of opponents the crowd of around one thousand were treated to some interesting encounters. All of the new boys won with Rich Gregory showing the best form for a boy just out of the simon-pure ranks as he dropped his hapless foe, Red West, three times in under two minutes for a first round stoppage win. Charley, despite fighting for the first time in three months, scored the only clean knockout of the evening as he put away 'Tiger' Jackson of Kent, Ohio in the second round. Charley figured that twenty dollars once a week would be OK if the opposition was going to be this easy and he signed up to fight previous victim Johnny Folio on the following weeks show. In his second showing for fight club Charley was again victorious over the Virginian as Folio tasted the canvas in the second round and again in the third, and despite a nine pound weight advantage could not match Charley for strength.
These cut-price shows were proving to be popular with the fans, although the attendance did not increase dramatically and remained at around one thousand. For this reason, it was decided that the next card would be moved upstairs into the smaller arena. The seating upstairs would accommodate an additional four hundred paying customers and would have the added bonus of moving them and the ring off the ice in the main arena. Most of the fighters were pleased to be getting a regular weekly income and their names in the papers, so they signed up for the third weekly show. Charley requested an opponent of higher standing for his next fight and this left the promoters with a slight headache. They were determined to keep Charley as part of the fight club, but they knew that they would have to pay good money to get a rated guy in to keep him happy. After a frantic few days and a substantial amount of phone calls they came up with a fighter who was considered good enough to test anyone of limited professional experience. Art Tate, a black fighter from Cleveland Ohio had been a good amateur in his hometown and had won many titles there. The most impressive thing about Mr Tate though was the thirty-one victories on his record. Charley was shooting for win number seventeen and was determined to manoeuvre himself into a local showdown with Fritzie Zivic. The 'Lawrenceville Larruper' was rated as the tenth best welterweight in the world behind Ceferino Garcia, Jack Carroll, Gustave Eder, Saverio Turiello, Izzy Janazzo, Holman Williams, Cocoa Kid and Jimmy Leto all of whom were vying for a title shot against champion Barney Ross.
The Charley Burley versus Art Tate bout was extended a couple of rounds to six, with the promoters hopeful of an exciting affair. Eager to impress and always able to raise his game when he so desired, Charley was off the mark and into action before the echo from the first bell had died away. The Cleveland fighter must have wondered what hit him. Down for an eight count in the first Tate's misery was complete when he was put down and out, where he remained for over a minute, just as the second round got under way. Again Charley had scored the only clean knockout of the night and the crowd went home talking about his chances with Zivic or Conn.
While keeping one eye on the weekly Pittsburgh Fight Club cards, Chappie Goldstein was casting the other over more highly touted opposition for his man. Previous attempts to match Charley Burley with Fritzie Zivic had run into obstacles of Constable Goldsteins own making. However, he now knew that if his most promising prospect was to advance any in the fight game he would have to co-operate with his least favourite promoter Jake Mintz, and Luke Carney, Zivics manager.
A show that was being frantically put together by Mintz to fill a free date necessitated all parties set aside their differences in double-quick time and agree to the biggest fight of young Charley Burley's career to date. To many, the fight had been a long time coming and promoter Jake Mintz, a short, broken nosed, willowy man of Jewish extraction, had to grudgingly bury the hatchet with Charley's manager and agree to terms. The North Side promoter had been trying to get the promising Burley under his promotional umbrella since he first turned professional, but he was unable to persuade Goldstein to give him sole promotional rights over the promising up-and-comer. With such a big match, and with so many demands from both parties, Mintz was able to make some gains of his own. The date of the bout was set for March 21st 1938 and one condition of the fight was that Charley discontinued fighting for Cox and Hollister on their weekly shows at the Duquesne Gardens and transfer over to Jake Mintz and his Hickey Park promotions at Millvale. This proposal apparently suited Goldstein, as the twenty dollars per-week from the 'Fight Club' promotions was proving insufficient financial reward to keep Charley on-track for his guaranteed one thousand for the year.
The press began to have a field day running stories during the build-up to the fight, and opinions differed as to how it would go. Just three months into the year the records of both fighters were comparable, Charley had won four out of four with two knockouts, while Zivic was three for three with one stoppage win to his credit. When it came down to overall experience however, Charley Burley was not in the same league as Fritzie Zivic. Fritzie was of Croatian extraction and was a member of what is probably the most famous family in the history of boxing. In all, five of the Zivic boys were fighters, Jack, Pete, Eddie and Joe all fought with varying degrees of success throughout the early part of the 20th century. Fritzie was the youngest and he had the longest career of any of the Zivic's, campaigning from 1931 until 1949. By the time he met Charley Burley for the first time the 24 year-old Lawrenceville lad was a veteran of close to eighty fights and the evidence of his trade was there on his face for all of the world to see. Square jawed with steely determination in his eyes with his dark hair slicked down on his head, as was the popular style, the flattened end of his bridge-less nose was a miss-formed blob in the middle of his face. Fritzie said that he owed the shape of his proboscis to Perfecto Lopez and a head-butting contest that they both engaged in one night in 1934. A 'doctor' , and Fritzie used the term loosely, removed too much of the cartilage and Fritzie's next opponent, Phil Rios, pounded on it until it caved it in. It would not have been possible to mistake Zivic for anything other than a prize fighter and in addition to looking the part he also had a reputation of being one of the dirtiest ring-men around. Relying on a well-stocked bag of tricks to gain control of a struggle within the ropes, butting, lacing, gouging, tripping, pinching and biting were all part of the Zivic repertoire, although he once said that he would never, ever thumb anybody in the eyes because he wouldn't want someone to do that to him.
Billy Conn, who had beaten Fritzie over ten rounds in 1936, often chided his fellow Pittsburgher for being a cry baby, claiming that Fritzie didn't mind too much doing unto you, but hollered like hell if you did it back to him. Despite these foul, though not always blatantly nasty, tactics Fritzie Zivic was a very popular fighter, especially in his hometown. Mostly because he was tough and usually gave it his all. Up to the fight with Charley, Zivic had only once failed to go the distance and that had been four years previous when he was knocked out in three rounds by Laddie Tonelli in Chicago, a result he later reversed. Other victims of the popular Zivic included Johnny Jadik, Bobby Pacho, Bobby Bland, Perfecto Lopez and Harry Dubliski.
Jake Mintz was happy with the way tickets sales were going for the fight and he was confident of a sell-out crowd at the Motor Square Garden. Chappie Goldstien however, was not happy. While he must surely have had confidence in the best fighter in his stable, the experience and 'modus operandi' of Zivic left him a little worried. He had filed an objection to Dr. W. D. McClelland, chairman of the state athletic commission, concerning the tactics usually employed by Zivic and had not received a reply. Dr. McClelland had gone on record to state that if Burley won and weighed within the welterweight limit of one hundred and forty seven pounds he would take Fritzie's place as contender to champion Barney Ross. This presented a further wrinkle in the contract negotiations, there had been many, as the two managers began to argue over the weight. Luke Carney demonstrated that he was far worldlier, in fight game terms, than Goldstein by negotiating for the fight to be contested at a maximum weight of one hundred and forty nine pounds.
Zivic, who was training at the Lyceum under the guidance of brother Eddie, was weighing one hundred and fifty two after a workout ten days before the fight and was confident of making the limit without any undue stress. He was still in good shape following a March 10th knockout victory over Tommy Bland and the final stages of his preparation consisted chiefly of sparring to maintain his fighting edge. If Charley Burley was the victor in the local clash but weighed over one hundred and forty-seven pound he would not climb over Fritzie Zivic in the ratings. However, if the Lawrenceville lad won while weighing over the welterweight limit he would still retain his top ten rating. In terms of the world ratings Luke Carney and his charge could not lose, provided Charley weighed over the limit come fight night. The Burley camp were getting down to serious training at the Centre Avenue Y.M.C.A. Sparring partners Ossie Harris and John Henry Thomas, in addition to the large crowds that watched Charley train, were given plenty to consider as the Hill boy was displaying some dynamic punching power. Ossie Harris, or 'Bulldog' as he was being called, was a recent graduate from the amateur ranks, where he too had lost a decision to local favourite Leo Sweeney, and was an all action style of fighter. In 1936 the black middleweight had been a Pittsburgh representative at an inter-city show in Buffalo New York. On that occasion, he came back with a winners trophy to which he promptly added a senior Middle Atlantic crown and a Diamond Belt title. Several of the cities promoters felt that Harris didn't quite have what it took to be a solid professional and he was initially turned down by Jules Beck, Jake Mintz, Bill Dummer, Art Rooney and his co-promoter Barney McGinnley. Eventually Ossie got his start with Jimmy McGirr in McKeesport. For the moment though, he was learning the ways of the professional fight game by helping Charley Burley prepare for the most important bout of his short career.
Before the fight the odds were in favour of Zivic at 10-3 for the decision, though he was touted to stop Charley Burley inside of six rounds. Never considered a murderous puncher by any standards, Zivic had recently hit a run of good form and appeared to be punching quite heavily. With four knockouts in his last nine victories, Fritzie's confidence, along with his punches, was booming. Charley Burley had never been off his feet in the ring so was not unduly worried about his opponents punching power. He was however, concerned with the tricks that might be employed to secure victory for Zivic. Fears that were well justified as the fight would prove. On Saturday March 19th, Charley had his final session before the fight. Down at the gym he was interviewed by Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier who was attempting to get some inside information as to Charley's physical and mental condition. Preparations had gone well and Charley was feeling confident and hopeful of a result.
'Every night before I go to bed I ask God to help me with this fight against Fritzie Zivic. A victory will mean everything to me. It will mean a chance to get out of the hole that I have been in most of my life. I know that he will help me and I know that I will win.'
The day of the fight came and Charley was quite relaxed after spending a quiet Sunday with Julia and his family. On the scales for the weigh-in, Charley received a shock as he weighed three quarters of a pound over the welterweight limit. Fingers were pointed as the members of the Burley camp were suspicious of gamesmanship. His weight had been below the welterweight limit during the final stages of his preparation and if Charley Burley did anything right it was prepare.
'She (Julia) would chew his gum to take all the sweets out of it then he would chew it, so he wouldn't get the sugar. Now that sounds ridiculous, but when Charley was in training, you know.'
Zivic came in three-quarters of a pound under the stipulated weight and as it stood, a victory for the Hill boy would not elevate his status among the ranking welterweights. Zivic had nothing to lose except face, and he could always argue that he had underestimated Charley should he suffer a reversal. By the same token, Charley Burley had little to lose and much to gain, as he wasn't really expected to beat his veteran adversary. A win would merely reinforce his claim to the best fighter in Pittsburgh and project him into the spotlight as a genuine up-and-comer.
That Monday night at the Motor Square Garden on Liberty Avenue the opening bell of the main event signalled the beginning of what many described as a torturous half-hour for the betting favourite. After a couple of rounds of tentative, range-finding jabs Charley Burley turned up the heat and his left hand punches burned into Zivics face with monotonous regularity. By the fourth round Zivic's face was glowing red from the rasping punches that Burley had continually stung him with and the Lawrenceville lad knew he had to do something soon to halt the runaway train from the Hill that was threatening to mow him, and his fighting reputation, down. Wrestling and tripping tactics were subsequently employed and on three occasions Zivic spun his tormentor through the ropes, out of the ring and onto the apron. The first of these rule infractions would normally incur a finger wagging from the referee, but the third time should have cost Fritzie on the scorecards, points that he could ill afford to lose. Yet, he escaped punishment for his actions just as he did when he decided that it was time to use his gloved fists for purposes other than punching. Referee Freddie Manstrean was eventually forced to warn Zivic for his rough house tactics, but several times he was blindsided by the canny veteran and did not witness everything that transpired. The crowd, in an attempt to assist the referee in enforcing fairness, booed loudly when Zivic resorted to heeling and lacing.
In rounds four and seven Charley was forced to hang on as Zivic attempted to wrestle and hold and hit. Otherwise, his plan of punching and moving and not allowing his opponent to settle proved to be very effective tactics. When Zivic attempted to level matters with a leaping left hook he was caught flush with a powerful right hand counter that rocked him back on his heels. Come the tenth and final round a cut, bruised and swollen faced Fritzie Zivic had to be dragged up off his stool. Summoning up all of his undoubted courage, Fritzie charged into the fray in one last desperate attempt to salvage something from the fight. Charley Burley, displaying resolve beyond his years, dug in and met the flailing Zivic in the trenches. For almost the entire three minutes, both men stood toe to toe and winged in hooked and arching punches, each one designed to settle matters before the final bell. Charley's assistants in the corner must have had palpitations, as they felt for sure that their man was far ahead and a gunfight in the last round was not what they wanted to see.
"[Zivic] was the dirtiest fighter I ever met.he kept thumbing me.he gave me some black eyes".
When the final bell did ring the crowd signalled long and loud it's appreciation for both combatants. Then came the decision. Referee Freddie Manstrean voted for Burley seven rounds to two with one even while judges Dr. George McBeth and Karl Koehn inexplicably cast for Zivic. The crowd of over three thousand booed loudly, as a weary, but victorious Zivic was practically carried from the ring. They continued to voice their displeasure for over five minutes afterwards.
The fans, the press and not least Charley Burley all demanded a rematch. Jake Mintz had no qualms about staging a second meeting as the first had netted over $5,000, and money talked just as loud then as it does now. The main problem would be convincing Fritzie Zivic that for the sake of his reputation he would have to beat young Mr. Burley more convincingly. Typical of his nature Charley made no bones about his defeat at the hands of the more experienced Zivic. He had lost the official decision and even if he thought he had won he merely accepted the result and moved on. He couldn't change the outcome, but he could try to turn it around next time he and Fritzie met in the ring.
Luke Carney would not entertain talk of a rematch until the dust had settled on the first encounter or until his charge had met Remo Fernandez in Detroit. When Zivic had had a chance to perform against a previous stoppage victim of Charley's and his performance monitored and judged by his pilot, then maybe they could all sit down again and discuss terms. For his part, Goldstien was adamant that there should be an immediate rematch and he would not think of matching Charley with anyone but Zivic. Negotiations and promises of a second fight kept things pretty much wrapped up for over two months and consequently Charley remained inactive while Zivic honoured a previous commitment against the aforementioned Remo Fernandez. While the experienced Mexican struggled to last into the seventh round with Charley, Fritzie Zivic had to be content with a points victory over ten rounds.
On May 31st 1938 Henry Armstrong, who at the time was also world featherweight champion, jumped up two weight divisions and took the world welterweight title from Chicago's Barney Ross in what was the Windy City fighter's final bout. With that victory, Armstrong became the first African American welterweight champion since Young Jack Thompson in 1931. By July of the same year Hammerin' Hank had also won the Lightweight title from Lou Ambers, becoming the only fighter in boxing history to hold three world titles at different weights simultaneously. If it had not been for some suspect judging he would also have taken the world middleweight title from Ceferino Garcia a couple of years down the line.
Charley continued to remain in shape should a second fight with Zivic materialise. Meanwhile Luke Carney signed for Fritzie to meet Petey Mike in Brooklyn in May. A knockout victory for the experienced Lawrenceville fighter left the way open for negotiations on a rematch. In the meantime, feeling that the fight all of Pittsburgh wanted to see might not be soon forthcoming, Chappie Goldstein decided that he had to keep Charley active. For June 1st on a bill featuring Sammy Angott, Charley Burley was matched with Mike Barto of New Kensington. After making the match, and just a few days before that contest went ahead, Goldstein sat down with Carney and Zivic to negotiate the terms and conditions of a return fight. Luke Carney, with one eye on the welterweight crown, realised that while his fighter was still ranked one of the top ten welterweights in the world by the powers that be, in Pittsburgh he was only second best until he could prove otherwise.
Before seeing Mike Barto floored once in the second round and three times in the forth and before witnessing his corner scramble to his rescue in that round, the small crowd at Hickey Park observed an occurrence that was as new to each and every one of them as it was to Charley Burley. In his only moment of success in the fight, Mike Barto hit Charley Burley with a left hook of such blinding speed and power that it forced the local fighter to touch down with one knee. There was no count as the contact with the canvas had been for the briefest time, but there was, if only for an instant, some added interest to the proceedings. Sadly for him, Barto's chance for what would have been a shock win evaporated in about as much time as it took Charley to recoil off the canvas and by the fourth round it was over. A right cross and a right uppercut accounted for two of the nine counts in the fourth, while a right hand to the heart scored a third forcing the referee to call a halt. In the headliner Sammy Angott beat Irving Eldridge of New York over ten rounds.
Ecstatic at the prospect of gaining revenge over Zivic Charley went straight back to the gym as he had no intention of letting Fritzie or Luke Carney get the better of him again, in the ring or on the scales. In fact, for the Barto fight Charley's training had been going so well that he weight just over 142 pounds.
After the first encounter Charley admitted that he may have given his conqueror too much respect, but he was determined not to be so shy of mixing it with Fritzie from the off the second time around. In the gym Charley and his trainer Dandy Allen began working on a strategy that would enable him to defeat the thick-skulled Zivic while removing the risk of causing any further damage to Charley's already aching fists. In the gym these new techniques were drilled and drilled until they became second nature. In subsequent sparring sessions they were practised with the same frequency and resulted in at least one sparring partner per day calling it quits after feeling the effects.
While Charley grew in confidence with each passing day, Fritzie Zivic undoubtedly became more anxious. He was ranked as high as he had ever been in his career and he knew that if he kept on winning he would eventually receive a shot at the title. What must have bothered Fritzie was the fact that not too many observers felt that he had really won in the first meeting with Charley. A defeat in what was his eighth year as a pro to a local fighter who, on the world scene, was unranked at the weight would surely spell the end for the last of the fighting Zivic's.
Jake Mintz had promised that the winner of the fight would be matched with a ranked contender in the near future, so as to strengthen their claim to a title shot. Career wise this was a crossroads fight for Zivic and any thoughts of defeat at the hands of the up-and-comer could not be entertained. It was win or bust for the Lawrenceville lad.
On fight night, the atmosphere at Hickey Park in Millvale was palpable. The crowd, who had paid close to $5,000 gross to see the action, were mainly pro Zivic and this was reflected in the betting odds at ringside. After saying his customary pre-fight prayer in the dressing room, Charley made his way to the ring to await his opponent. As Zivic entered the ring to a cacophony of cheers, whistles and shouts, Charley's seconds removed his green silk robe as he skipped and jigged around nervously in his corner. At centre of the ring referee Red Robinson gave the fighters their final instructions. In an oratory that almost rivalled the Gettysburgh Address, Robinson warned both fighters against the use of foul tactics. The speech was a total waste of time as far as Zivic and the referee were concerned, because as soon as the first round got underway Charley Burley looked as though he was going to be the victim of a vicious mugging. Zivic chased down Charley in an attempted to close the gap between them and on the occasions when he was successful, he resorted to the tactics that had brought him victory the last time the two had met. These same tactics prevented Charley from being as effective as he might have been in the first couple of rounds, but the Hill fighter, via skilful employment of the jab, began to put some space between himself and the wildcat in front of him. In the fourth round, once he found some room to punch, Charley brought out his secret weapon, a weapon that had been so carefully honed in the gym.
Right hands to the heart. Charley hurt his hands on his head. You know they X-rayed Fritzie Zivics head and found out that his skull was extra thick and Charley fixed him with them right shots.'
From the moment that first body shot landed, the course of the fight changed and Zivic must have known he was a beaten man. The tactic proved so successful that Fritzie turned from fighter to dancer and not the fleet-footed, ring circling style of dancer, he wanted to dance with Charley Burley the way couples dance to the last record of the night, up close, hugging and clinging. Surprisingly referee Robinson allowed the employment of these tactics by the Lawrenceville veteran and it was undoubtedly the official's leniency that allowed Zivic to remain in the fight.
Although his roughhouse tactics had enabled him to edge the fifth and ninth rounds Fritzie Zivic was well beaten come the final bell. He had very little left for the last round and Charley put the final seal on the matter by giving an outstanding display of box-fighting. After the bell to end the final round, and the thrilling contest, a hush fell over the crowd. Burley appeared to have done enough to receive the decision, but would the judges recognise his efforts and superior skill this time around? After the cards were tallied, the unanimous decision in favour of the Hill fighter was greeted with rapturous applause as even the pro Zivic crowd acknowledged that the better man had won.
Zivic was written off by sports writers in the following days newspapers as being washed up and finished as a world class fighter yet Fritzie Zivic had more heart and determination than anyone could have imagined as he would later go on to prove the press and the public wrong. Charley was pleased at getting a just decision for his efforts and he had proven that he was the better of the two fighters. While the press wrote off Charley's vanquished opponent, they wrote about the 'Hill District Holocaust' in glowing terms, even going so far as to speculate on his chances with the new world welterweight champion Henry Armstrong.
'Sure, I'll fight Henry Armstrong, I'll fight anybody.'
In an attempt to capitalise on his success over Fritzie Zivic, Chappie Goldstien looked towards the East Coast and a number of rated fighter's who might be willing to take on Charley Burley in Pittsburgh or even elsewhere. Eventually he reached an agreement with Chris Dundee for his ranked welterweight Phil Furr to come to Hickey Park and meet Charley on a Jake Mintz promotion in July. The North-side based promoter was experiencing some problems of his own in regards to getting a head-liner for the upcoming show. Boxing commissioner McClelleland and Ray Foutts, manager of former middleweight champion Teddy Yarosz, had some personal differences and could not even agree to disagree over the terms and conditions for Mintz's proposed Yarosz versus Billy Conn fight.
Since losing his crown in 1935 to Babe Risko in Pittsburgh the tough Yarosz had met Billy Conn twice, losing back to back decisions to Johnny Ray's man in 1937. A third meeting between the two would draw a good crowd in Pittsburgh as both were hometown fighters and Mintz wanted to put Conn, Yarosz, Burley and possibly Zivic on an 'all-star' card at Hickey Park. The headache for Mintz was that Fritzie was in New York looking to rebuild his flagging career on the back of the two knockout wins he had scored since his defeat by Charley Burley, so he was out as an attraction. This coupled with the bickering over the Yarosz - Conn battle was making life difficult for the promoter. With Burley and Furr signed for July 11th Jake Mintz attempted to reconcile commissioner and manager for a joint headliner. Unfortunately, this proved to be impossible given the time frame that the promoter had to work in. However, he continued to work for the second fight for later in July as two headline shows in two weeks would suit him fine because he would then have two potential sell-outs. Come the day of the Burley and Furr fight Dr. John E. McClenehan called Mintz to throw a stethoscope in the works and add to the promoter's woes.
Charley had developed a painful rash on his chest and the doctor informed all concerned that the Hill fighter would be out of action for at least two weeks. Stricken with panic, Jake Mintz called Fritzie Zivic in New York and asked him to step in for Charley against Phil Furr. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Fritzie seized upon the opportunity to upstage his local rival and immediately returned to Pittsburgh. Mintz, relieved that he didn't have to cancel altogether, moved the sell-out show to the following night. So, while Charley Burley recovered from a case of shingles Fritzie Zivic capitalised on his misfortune by punching poor Phil Furr from pillar to post in a little under three rounds of one-sided action.
The Lawrenceville lad was back and looking impressive with three fights and three knockouts since his losing effort against Charley. Zivics latest win, against a fighter who had been the distance with Izzy Jannazo and Barney Ross, was most impressive and he now had his boxing career back on track. While Zivic continued his knockout streak against Joe Lemieux in Newark on August 2nd Charley attempted to get back into title contention by facing the experienced California based Cuban Leon Zorrita over ten rounds at Hickey Park the very same night.
Despite his recent illness and the gulf in experience, Zorrita had contested close to seventy bouts, Charley stopped the fast punching Cuban in six rounds. A trip to the canvas and an assault from Burley's fists that referee Al Greyber referred to as 'Lewis machine gun-like' forced the stoppage just over two minutes into the round. Zorrita's manager 'Apples' Meyers was not too happy with the referee's actions and protested loudly. Referee Greyber defended himself by arguing that it may have only taken one more punch for a disaster. Overall, Charley's victory was an impressive one and he looked forward to the promised showing in New York, an incentive that Jake Mintz had added during the build up to the Zorrita fight.
Unfortunately for professional fighters, what a promoter says and what a promoter does occupy two opposite ends of the spectrum. Hopeful of exposure in a higher class, and more hopeful of the money that went with that exposure, Charley was looking forward to the East Coast trip. New York was the place to fight, be it the world famous Madison Square Garden or St. Nicks Arena any boxer worth his salt wanted to fight there and Charley Burley definitely knew his worth, even if he was a little shy about verbalising it. Charley started to make plans concerning the trip. Maybe he would visit with Irving Jenkins, Frank Payton, Bernard Danchik or Dorothy Tucker, some of his team-mates from the ill-fated trip to Spain. Whatever he decided to do, he was going to make the most of his trip. His current promoter however had other plans for him.