In Chicago that meant he would get a fair shake, all right. Ignoring Capone could be suddenly fatal.
The next day I happened to mention to a newspaper pal of mine that Capone was betting on Dempsey, and relayed what Al had told me. My friend went to the Illinois boxing commission and said that if anything went wrong, or ii maybe Dempsey got a little better than a fair shake, there would be quite a scandal.
So at the last minute there was a change of officials. That's how Dave Barry got the assignment as referee, and that's how the stage was set for the famous count in which, when Dempsey knocked Tunney down and failed to retire to a neutral corner, Barry stopped the count to wave Dempsey away. It has been reckoned that Tunney thus had anywhere from 14 to 24 seconds to recover. It is ancient history how he came back to win the decision and retain the heavyweight championship that September night in 1927.
It is a good guess, though, that if another referee had been in the ring the results might have been entirely different.
We stayed around Chicago for a couple of fights, in which Mickey knocked out Mike McTigue in one heat and took a 10-round decision from Paul Berlenbach, and that victory gave us an excuse for a real wingding at the Morrison Hotel. The guests included Capone and one of his lieutenants, Machine Gun Jack McGurn, along with several police captains.
After the party me and Mickey and Teddy Hayes were relaxing over a few drinks when we heard loud voices from another party down the hall. Teddy wandered down that way and came back sporting a shiner.
"Those guys are the Notre Dame football team," he reported. "They're celebrating a game they won, and I get into a beef with a couple of them in the corridor. One of them belts me but I flattened both of them."
We thought no more of it until in popped a flock of these husky football players looking for a fight, not having the most remote idea that they were brewing one with Mickey Walker, middleweight champion of the world.
While they were chewing out Teddy, Mickey stood up.
"I will take you all on, one at a time or all at once," he announced. They stepped forward in turn and Mickey flattened about seven of them while Hayes and I applauded quietly. When they saw how bad it was going for the first team, the rest of them dragged out of there.