But then, in May of 1926, we lost the welterweight title to Pete Latzo in Scranton. A month later Joe Dundee flattened Mickey in the eighth round in New York. Mickey reacted by announcing he was "finished."
A couple of days after that first Tunney-Dempsey fight I sat down and took stock of the situation. My champions were gone, both of them. Yet I knew that it had been nothing but the pace we had been setting that had whipped Walker. He was only 25 at this time, a guy jammed with guts and owner of a punch that could knock down a healthy horse.
I went to see him and, though he was reluctant, I persuaded him that his trouble had been in making the welterweight limit.
"Listen to me, Mick," I said. "You're a middleweight and still a damned good one."
We kicked it around a long time. Then Mickey gave me that wide Irish grin.
"O.K., Doc. We'll give it a try the way you say. But I've got to name one condition. You've got to get me the toughest you can find in the middleweight division. I'll tell you why. If I can't beat a good fighter, I got no business fighting."
We shook hands and once again were back in business. This time we did no Charleston down the primrose path. I put Mickey into tough training and then I matched him in Chicago with Shuffles Callahan, a rough, strong boy, a southpaw, respected by everybody. Mickey knocked him out in the eighth round. Then he beat a couple of others, training through it all as he never trained before or afterward, and the old happy glint was back in his merry blue eyes. Six months after he had blown the welterweight crown and called it quits I had him going into the ring in Chicago against Tiger Flowers for the middleweight championship of the world. Flowers had wrested the title from the rugged Greb, but I knew that the new Mick could take it away from him.
It took a little con.
Setting up a conference with Walk Miller, Flowers' manager, Mickey and I went to see them in the Tiger's house on Chicago's South Side.
"You keep a sad, woebegone expression on that Irish kisser and let me do the talking," I told Mickey.