The movie bout was held two years to the day after Corbett's title fight. An excellent account of the occasion appeared the next day in the New York Sun, whose unnamed reporter followed Corbett from 8:15 a.m., when the boxer appeared at a Hudson River ferry terminal in Manhattan bound for New Jersey, until he returned to New York. Nattily attired in a checked suit, straw hat and diamond-studded necktie, Gentleman Jim carried a cane and wore three gold rings set with diamonds and rubies on the little finger of his right hand.
A policeman stopped to greet Corbett and ask what he was up to. The champion, aware that boxing was illegal, smiled and said, "I'm just taking a little run out into the country, and my friends here are going along, too, to see I don't get lost."
The Sun reporter found Courtney "a rather tough-looking citizen, with a bull neck, big shoulders, immense hands and the proverbial thin legs." But Courtney's suit was "ill-fitting," and the brim of his straw hat "looked as if it had been doing business with a poll parrot."
"I ain't no spring chicken," Courtney said, "and I don't think this here champeen will have such a picnic with me as he thinks."
This time the Edison ring was 14 feet square, with two sides roped. The other two were the padded walls of the building. Corbett weighed 195 pounds, five more than Courtney. Just before noon, the fight was started by referee John Eckhardt, and at :50 of the sixth round—the first five ran 1:16, 1:24, 1:12, 1:29 and 1:23 seconds, the uneven timing being a consequence of the irregularities in the filming—Corbett knocked out Courtney. Corbett caught the 2 p.m. train and then the ferry, and made it back to New York in plenty of time for the 8 p.m. curtain of Gentleman Jack.
One Edison biographer, who errs by saying an hour was required to change film between the rounds, tells an entertaining but unverified tale about an X marked on the ring, which Dickson supposedly told Corbett to be sure he was standing near while delivering his knockout punch. "Otherwise you won't be in focus," Dickson was quoted as saying.
In the sixth round, Corbett is said to have nailed Courtney with a left, then a right which so stunned Courtney that he staggered to the champion's corner. As Courtney shook his head, trying to regain his senses, the spectators began screaming at him, "You're out of focus!" One is said to have pushed Courtney back toward the X, where, as Edison looked on laughing, another Corbett right finished the fight for good.
Then the law stepped in. Two days after the fight, the front page of the Sunday New York Times reported that a Judge Depue of the Newark Circuit Court had instructed a grand jury to investigate the bout, and that Corbett might be indicted because "Prize fighting of all kinds, even glove contests and stage exhibitions, are tabooed in this country."
Edison was subpoenaed as well, along with Dickson, but on Sept. 12 he told reporters that he hadn't been present at the fight, that he didn't understand a boxing match had been scheduled and that "I should certainly not permit any fight to a finish in my place under any consideration." This audacious denial apparently sufficed, and all charges were dropped.
And shady business proved to be good business. The film was popular then and is prized by collectors now.