Steve Hannagan

Promotes Puerto Rico Boxing Match

As part of Steve Hannagan’s publicity campaign for Puerto Rico, he promoted a bantam weight prize fight between Sixto Escobar, a local fighter, and Harry Jefra of Baltimore. The fight was held on February 20, 1938, at El Escambrón Baseball Park in Puerta de Tierra. The fight was a rematch between the two. Jefra won the previous fight.

Hannagan convinced boxing promoter, Mike Jacobs that the fight would be a money maker because Escobar was a hometown favorite. However, Hannagan did not know that the two boxers had fought before. Escobar wanted the fight because if he won he had a shot at the bantamweight title fight.

Sixto Escobari

Harry Jefraii

To maximize the gate, Hannagan scheduled the fight to coincide with the arrival of the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. He expected to draw a large number of officers and enlisted men looking for a rousing fight to start shore leave. However, Steve made a major mistake by inviting photographers to a dinner with both fighters; who rather than glaring at each other through dinner pictures showed them to be the best of friends. Sailors did not want a fight between friends, they wanted rabid enemies pummeling each other into bloody pulp. The result was that the sailors stayed away in droves. However, the locals did come, and they saw Escobar outpoint Jefra in fifteen rounds. The next year Escobar won the bantam weight title.iii

Statue of Sixto Escobar in front of the Stadium Named for Him

In San Juaniv

End Notes

i Photograph of Sixto Escobar (retrieved November 13, 2017);

iii Ross, Edward Ellis; Hannagan Research Document; source: New York University Archives; pp. 199–200.

iv Photograph of the Sixto Escobar Statue in front of the stadium named for him (retrieved November 12, 2017);