A Comeuppance for the Cocksure
Issue date: March 25,
"How tall are you?" said Cassius Clay to Douglas
Jones the other day. "Why do you ask that?" said
Clay (right) wasn't able to floor Jones as predicted, but he still improved his record to 18-0.
"So's I can know in advance how far to step back when
you fall in four," said Cassius merrily, and waltzed
away with his knot of laughing
Jones did not fall in four, or six, or at any other time
during his 10-round fight last week with the bumptious
Clay. What did fall as a consequence was a chunk of the
prestige Clay has spent the last two years developing,
partly with his muscle but
mostly with his mouth. And though he won the decision, Clay was
roundly jeered by the bulk of 18,732 fans in Madison Square
Garden. It was a sorry showing for the man who thinks he is
ready for Sonny
Not that the best can't have their off nights. But this
must have been Clay's offest, his worst professional fight.
Doug Jones, even in defeat, is far ahead of any man Clay
has fought before. "Welcome to the big time,"
Jones said in effectand
graphicallyto Clay in the first round with a dizzying right to the
head that stopped Clay cold in his tracks. And Jones was
still saying it, if haltingly, at the end.
"I can't think of anything Clay did well," said
Doug Jones bitterly, nursing no wound except that to his
spirit and firmly convinced that the officials had been out
to lunch when they totted up their scorecards. The two
judges scored it 5-4-1 for Clay.
The refereeLord forgive him, for it was his first big
fight and he knew not what he was doingscored it 8-1-1
for Clay. But televiewer Sonny Liston, though unimpressed,
said Clay had won.
For the last three rounds [Clay] looked, a little bit at
least, like the fighter he says he can be. But once Clay
had failed to knock Jones out in the fourth, as he had
predicted he would, the crowd became blind to all his later
efforts. Because Clay
lost that fourth-round battle, too many convinced themselves
that Jones had won the warwhich is illogical in any case
and untrue in this one. Jones fought one of the best fights
of his career, but Clay, fighting his worst, still got the
"Well," says Cassius, "tell my fans I'm
sorry. Tell them I did my best. And tell them I ain't
Superman. If they think I can do everything
I say I can do, then they're crazier'n I