If it had gone the full 15 Harris might have been ruined as a fighter forever. As it is, he hopes that Gore will be available to give him more training so that he may try again, perhaps a year from now. In the few weeks that Gore worked with him, Harris, hitherto trained in a rough-and-tumble school, learned much about the professional way.
The cuts were entirely unanticipated. Harris had no previous reputation as a profuse bleeder. After 22 fights, in which he never had been defeated, his face showed no scar tissue. But in this fight he busted up easier than a Carmen Basilio.
One explanation came from the Patterson camp. The gloves were peculiar and may have represented an effort to counteract California law, which calls for eight-ounce gloves in championship fights, though six-ounce gloves are used elsewhere when a title is at stake. The gloves seemed to have much of the weight on the wrists instead of on the punching surface so that, while they weighed a legal eight ounces, they had the effect of six-ounce weapons. Patterson's manager, Cus D'Amato, noted also that the leather seemed thinner than is customary and suggested that this may have been a factor in the blood bath.
Even Patterson was horrified at the bloody spectacle Harris presented.
"Generally," Patterson said, "I don't look at an opponent's face. I keep my eye on the center of his chest because that way I can tell whether he is moving his muscles to throw a right or a left. But once I looked up into his face and it seemed all I could see was flesh and blood. I didn't want to hit him around the eyes any more so after that I aimed for his chin."
One such chin shot was so powerful it sprayed all the blood off Harris' face and left it as though it had been wiped with a towel.
Harris proved to Patterson's satisfaction that he is a better puncher than was thought before the fight, though he still needs to pivot in order to get more steam into his drives.
"He hits harder than people say he hits," Patterson said. "It's a lucky thing I don't listen to what they say. He hurt me a couple of times, but not seriously." Even so, Harris does not punch with adequate authority for a heavyweight.
Harris left the ring to the cheers of thousands who had come in the expectation, based on absurd reports of 7-to-1 odds, that he must succumb early to Patterson's thundering fists. Instead, he made a fight of it.
Joe Louis, a pithy man, summed it up better than anyone.