pep.jpg (38637 bytes)Billy Speary, Pennsylvania featherweight who hails from Pennsylvania's anthracite county and who fights Willie Pep here tonight, looks on as Charley Hakimian of The Times engraving department turns out a "flat". Billy's hobby is the mechanics of news­paper plants and he visits a newspaper office in every city he visits. 
Hartford Times Photo.

Billy Speary, who will do battle tonight with Champion Willie Pep at the Hartford Auditorium, was a caller at The Hartford Times sports department Monday morning.

Billy has never seen Willie fight and was asking about his opponent of this evening:
"Pep doesn't hit too hard," one of the other Monday morning callers volunteered.
"No," said Billy, "but I do hear he hits plenty often."

Speary is only a youngster despite more than 300 ring battles. Most of these he fought as an amateur and it was not until 1940, when he was 21, that the Pennsylvania youth turned pro ... It requires no great mathematical talent to figure out, then, that Billy is now 23 . . . The record books give his age as 24, but he says that is an over-statement by 12 months ....

THREE TIMES CHAMPION: Billy Speary has three times been the national A. A. U. champion. He first won the flyweight national amateur crown; then won the bantamweight title and finally the featherweight championship, being thus one off the successors to our own Bat Battalino who, as you may recall, knocked out several contenders in an aggregate of about five minutes at Boston to crown himself king of the amateurs ....

"Only time I ever was in Hartford before," said Billy yesterday, "was when I passed through here on my way to Boston for the national A. A. U. tournament · .. and then I was only in the station."

Speary and his manager, Art Thomas, averred Hartford might be a very attractive city but ,that Monday, with skies overcast and the footing sloppy, was no day to judge... They were disappointed upon reaching here to find the weather just as it had been when they left the mining country. (Manager Thomas is a miner and Billy works now and then on surface jobs at the mines) ....

Billy's home is in Nanticoke, Pa. where he launched his boxing career as an amateur. He is a great favorite in the mining area and when he and Mike Raffa, the Pittsburgh boy, fought at Wilkes-Barre they set a record in gates for that strip of the boxing map ...

Raffa is the hardhitting Smoky City ringman who beat Bobby Ivy at Pittsburgh in a slashing battle, one of Ivy's last trips to the post. He and Speary met twice. Raffa beat Billy at Rochester and Speary evened the count when they fought a second time in Wilkes-Barre.

Art Thomas, Billy's faithful pilot, was "missing in action" the night of the Rochester fight and Speary declares it was a real handicap to him; Art had started for the fight but got into an automobile smashup and never reached there.

PEP SHOULD WIN--Pep shapes up as a sure winner over Speary tonight. Willie outclasses the featherweights of this period and so there could be no other pick in tonight's fracas down there on Wethersfield Ave ... but Speary is one of the better small boys and should give Willie a busy evening ...

The only basis of comparison between Peps and Speary is their fight with Pedro Hernandez.
Pep beat Hernandez handily at the Bulkeley Stadium last summer and Speary beat Hernandez at Providence seven weeks also, albeit not as impressively as did Pep ...

Speary will have an unimportant advantage in weight tonight: I'll come in...........said yesterday while the indication is that Pep will scale around 130.

Billy Speary recently was kayoed in the first round by Johnny Greco, the boy who has won 23 fights in a row, 17 of these by kayo.
"How did it happen?" I asked Billy.
"Well, I'll tell you," he countered, "it was this way. Greco, who is a terrific hitter, caught me right off the bat with a pip--hung it right on my jaw and, boom, it was all over."  "But" he commented. "I'm working now for a rematch with Greco . . .and it will be a different story. You wait and see."

I have never seen Speary go and so know nothing of him except from his record and what I have read of him... but this I do know. Never has a better looking or more personable fighter come to The Times sports department . . . Billy has eyes that twinkle, a flash of pearly teeth and keen intelligence.
Now good looks does not win ring battles nor does per­sonality, but I have a feeling Billy will make a good fight of it, tonight, as good as any of the boys, barring two or three at the very top, can furnish the fleet and fast punch­ing Willie Pep.

Incidentally, both Speary and his manager, Art Thom­as, are warm admirers of Chalky Wright whom Pep de­throned at the Garden not so many weeks ago.

"He's one of the most amazing fighters I have seen in thirty-odd years of following the fight game," said Thomas, who added "Chalky fought a great fight in the Garden last Friday."


non-title 10-rounder HEADS AUDITORIUM CARD

There's one sure thing, the winner of tonight's main bout at the Auditorium will answer to the name of William.  For its Willie Pep of Hartford versus Billy Speary of Nanticoke, Pa., in a 10-rounder topping a card of five fights.

Pep's world featherweight crown is not at stake; but he's pretty proud of that unsullied record of his and will be out to make it 58 in a row.

Like many other recent challengers, however, Speary is pretty confident he'll be the first to knock off the champion, and at the same time inject himself into the title picture.  Rated among the leading featherweight challengers, the Pennsylvania coal miner has abandoned ideas of getting into the lightweight picture after one setback in that heavier division.

Two former champions are counted among Speary's victims - Joey Archibald and Harry Jeffra.  Billy beat Archy while he was king of the featherweight's, but he couldn't catch up to him while he was on top of the heat in seeking a title shot.

Speary and his manager Art Thomas aver they'll clamor for shot at Willy's crown if they win tonight.

But whether they do or not, it stands to reason that they'll be in an enviable spot if they can dump the champion.  Lucrative offers will come their way, for not only will they have been the first to spoil Pep's record, but they'll make much of the fact that they've again beaten a champion.  And what, they'll say, does a guy have to do to get recognition.

As recently as last November did Speary defeat Pedro Hernandez in Providence, scoring an upset over a fighter who was knocked out of the No. 2 challenger's post by Pep here.  And Mike Raffa, the last fighter to beat Bobby Ivy before he retired was another of the 23-year-old miner's 1942 victims.

The undefeated local boy - he's 20 years old - is a strong favorite.  He has won three fights is becoming champion and will be welcomed back to the scene of triumphs that led to the title shot by a crowd of home-town well wishers who have waited long to greet their conquering hero.  For it will be Willie's first public appearance in this state since he out pointed Chaulky Wright to become top man.






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