When Tunney's head began to clear, Barry had reached the count of two. "What a surprise," Tunney recalled. "I had seven seconds in which to get up...I'd take the full count, of course. Nobody but a fool fails to do that."
Each sweep of referee Barry's arm seemed to take an eternity. "...six, seven, eight, nine, and Tunney is up!...backing away," screamed Graham McNamee, whose account of the fight was being broadcast to an audience estimated at 40 million. After 14 seconds on the canvas—by the most conservative estimates—Tunney came up retreating. He danced, blocked, circled. Dempsey beckoned him in to slug it out, but Tunney would have none of it. By round's end, he had recuperated sufficiently to jolt Dempsey with a right under the heart. "I thought I was going to die," Dempsey recalled. "I could not get my breath."
Tunney downed Dempsey momentarily in the eighth, then went on to "hit him with the encyclopedia of boxing," by his own account, to win the last three rounds and retain his championship.
Tunney was often asked if he could have survived the seventh without the aid of a long count. "I'm quite sure that I could have. When I regained consciousness after the brief period of blackout, I felt that I could have jumped up immediately and matched my legs against Jack's, just as I did."
Tunney died in 1978; Dempsey lived until 1983. It's doubtful either one of them spent a day in public when the subject of the long count did not come up. "All I know is that it was a great thing for both of us," Dempsey once replied to the inevitable long-count question. "Half the folks thought Gene won, and half thought I won. They still talk about it, and it has kept our names alive all these years."