Television's boxing fans, subsisting on a diet of processed cheese, haven't been treated to a truly nourishing fist fight since Archie Moore last made the weight. On the other hand, those who pay to see talent have been faring well. In Boston, the paying customers have been privileged to witness two thrilling battles between Welterweights Virgil Akins and Tony De Marco, one of them last week. And in San Francisco last week they saw an even more rousing middleweight fight between Spider Webb and Rory Calhoun.
There are good reasons why untelevised boxing is generally far superior to the lackluster stuff ordinarily televised on Wednesday and Friday nights. To attract a profitable gate the independent promoter must lead his market to believe that something superior to the free fights will be seen in his arena. He must also pay good fighters far more than the $4,000 pittance they get for TV fights. (Smart managers won't risk a good fighter against a good opponent for such a fee, which is why you so often see top-ranked fighters in there against worn-out bums or tyros.) Since the fan who pays is a sophisticated fellow he will not be enticed out of his cozy home by an inferior lure. The independent impresario lives, therefore, by an old art called matchmaking and by an old capitalist principle that he who wisely risks his money may make a profit.
Superior matchmaking is not necessary on TV, since the International Boxing Club ( James D. Norris, president) lives on a guaranteed annual pension paid by its sponsors.
So the predictably exciting Webb-Calhoun fight drew 9,352 paying customers into the Cow Palace, and each fighter took 25% of net $43,385.97, biggest payday either has ever had.
The bout went less than four rounds, but the famous Dempsey-Firpo fight went less than two. The virtue of a fight is not measured in terms of its duration except by television sponsors, whose commercial time is so valuable that a fight is considered most successful when it goes the distance.
For a look at the fight nobody saw for free, regard these pictures:
GIVING THE FANS THEIR MONEY'S WORTH, PROMOTERS GROSSED A PLEASING $50,197.50 WHILE HAPPY SAN FRANCISCANS CHEERED
CALHOUN (BLACK TRUNKS) TOOK THE INITIATIVE AND A ZINGING RIGHT CROSS BUT SOON DROPPED SPIDER WITH A SHORT RIGHT.
HIS HEAD FULL OF COBWEBS, SPIDER WAS UP AT NINE AND SURVIVED BECAUSE SEVERAL OF CALHOUN'S HAYMAKERS MISSED THE CHIN