Against McCall, after winning the early rounds with a constant left jab, Bruno had a better sense of self preservation at the end. Then again, the 30-year-old McCall—who had won the title last September with a second-round knockout of Lewis and successfully defended it in April against an antique Larry Holmes—presented few problems until the final two rounds. His most aggressive moments had come during the prefight hype, when he threatened to turn Bruno into "a vegetable" and called him "an Uncle Tom."
The first British-born, British-raised heavyweight champion of any kind—Lewis was raised in Canada, and Herbie Hide was born in Nigeria—Bruno long has been the country's most curious and beloved athletic hero. His failures somehow have added to his popularity, his character cast in the tabloids as sort of a Jimmy Stewart with biceps. "This is a lesson for all people, black or white, yellow or pink," Bruno told his public after his triumph. "You don't have to be born rich. You don't have to go to university. All you have to do is work hard, persevere, and you'll get whatever you want in life."
The fight's co-promoter, Don King, might have entered the ring with McCall, but at the end he was smiling with Bruno and ordering up a red Bentley convertible as the fighter's prize for victory. King also owns Bruno's contract and said repeatedly that the winner of this fight would be in line for Tyson early next year. Then again, he has said a lot of things.
"I want to fight Mike Tyson again," Bruno said through his swollen lips. "Then I want to call a taxi and go home."
Or maybe his slave can drive him.