Wyatt Earp had left behind his days in Tombstone. He was now living as a gentleman in San Francisco. Because of his interest in boxing and his celebrity status, on December 2, 1896, Wyatt was asked to referee a championship-boxing match between Fitzsimmons and Sharkey. The purse was $10,000. Winner take all.
Things didn’t start out well for Wyatt. He arrived at the arena with a gun. It had to be taken away by the police.
Boxing was considered the sport of the common man… but this match was different. Prominent businessmen, police commissioners and superior court judges were there. Even women attended the event… Most wore veils, but some were brazen enough to go bare faced.
Fitzsimmons was the favorite, and most of the money was on him. Even though Fitzsimmons told his corner men at the end of the third round that he would finish Sharkey in the next round, it didn’t happen. Sharkey held up his side of the fight until the seventh. And then he started fading.
Now Sharkey had a reputation of sneaking in low blows, and maybe this experience was used to accomplish what happened next, because in the eighth round Sharkey, after a mix-up of blows, fell to the mat claiming a foul. Referee Earp, agreed, and declared Sharkey the winner.
No one in the arena saw the foul, and people started mumbling about a fixed fight. Fitzsimmon’s people took it to court. The judge declared that since boxing wasn’t legal, the courts were not in a position to make a determination on the outcome of the fight.
Proof of a fixed fight was never established. But right after the fight, Wyatt Earp chose to leave the city by the bay.