Saxton won the third round on everybody's card. It was in this round that the padding in Saxton's left glove burst through the seams and forced a minute's halt while a new glove was substituted. Basilio managed to cross over some of Saxton's jabs with his right and he broke through to the body, too, but the incessant, head-snapping Saxton jabs piled up a lot of points. After the new glove was laced on, Saxton used it as part of a one-two combination and then, with more jabs, had Basilio retreating at the bell.
Scoring of the fourth round was a significant mystery. Referee Gilmer, who wound up the fight with a card showing Saxton the winner by two points, gave the round to Basilio. The judges, whose final cards had Saxton the winner by a preposterous seven points, gave it to Saxton. They may have been preoccupied. Here are the SI reporter's notes for the round: " Saxton [scores] with left uppercut. Basilio to the body. Basilio left hook. Basilio right cross. Basilio right to the body. Basilio begins body attack. Basilio beautiful right to the head. Saxton two lefts to head. Basilio gets him on ropes and pounds, winding up with left to head. Saxton right to head. Saxton left and right to head. Basilio drives to ropes." It was clearly a round in which Basilio was the effective aggressor, in which Saxton's defensive abilities were as nothing, and in which, if "ring generalship" means anything, Generalissimo Basilio was using his best field tactic—the furious, all-out attack—with the �lan of a Patton slashing through France.
There would be little intellectual nourishment in a further round-by-round account of the fight. There is no question that Basilio, who twice outlasted DeMarco, tired himself chasing Saxton and, in the closing rounds, was much less potent than he had started out to be. Saxton paced himself better. As Basilio grew weary, Saxton's jab, run and clutch technique became more effective as a point-gainer and sometimes made the bloody-nosed, raw-eyed Basilio look like a futile fury, swinging round instead of straight, beaten to the punch, as frustrated and astonished as a beagle who finds himself chasing a backward-running, sharp-toothed rabbit.
But up through the 10th round, which everyone agreed he had won masterfully, Basilio was well out in front. He had discovered that Saxton sometimes ducks his head after throwing a jab and when the challenger did so Basilio's left would come crashing through. In the sixth he withstood a savage attack to the body and head, made Saxton miss with his lefts, drove hard to the body and at the end staggered Saxton with a right. In the seventh, with the crowd bawling "Come on, Carmie, let's go!" he took a few lefts to get Saxton against the ropes and was scoring heavily in infighting when the referee separated them. The crowd booed at this, but even so Gilmer gave the round to Basilio, and it was the judges who awarded it to Saxton. The eighth might have been considered even but the officials gave it to Saxton, perhaps on the basis of a left-right-left to the head shortly before the bell. The referee disagreed with the judges again on the ninth round, awarding it to Basilio, who had crossed and hooked effectively and twice had the retreating Saxton on the ropes.
But in the closing rounds Basilio was clearly weary, though by no means exhausted. His legs gave him less drive, his punches traveled in wider arcs and, when he drove Saxton against the ropes, as he did several times, it was a desperate onslaught in which his timing was off. Once, in the 12th, when he saw that Saxton's mouthpiece was red with blood, Basilio was inspired to charge head down and ran into a left uppercut. The realization that Basilio was losing his effectiveness gave Saxton brief spells of willingness to go on the attack, and when Basilio tried to change the tide he found himself walking into sharp, cutting jabs. There was blood on Basilio's trunks as he came out for the 14th round. Vaseline had been smeared on his left eyebrow and puffed-out lower lid. He advanced into a staggering right to the head and was himself driven back against the ropes. Both his hands were carried low, out of weariness. Saxton had dropped his right—most likely in the hope of drawing leads, for his counterpunching had become very effective.
The final round was nothing much to look at. Saxton was booed for wrestling and was punished in the infighting but he also scored to the head. He did not seem to be trying too hard, and that was strange, for the last round is a time when fighters try to show who is really in command. It could have been called an even round, and one of the judges so scored it, but the other two officials gave it to Saxton.
Then came the verdict. Few in the crowd believed that Basilio had won by a wide margin but scarcely anyone thought he had lost, and there was proper rage that an aggressive, hard-punching, courageous champion had been stripped of his title by mere cuteness, by the kind of fighter who infuriates those who have paid to see action and by a man whose original claim to the title was based on one of the worst performances ever seen in a championship bout.
While the crowd booed, while Johnny Saxton and his entourage celebrated in the ring, ex-Champion Carmen Basilio slipped downstairs to his dressing room to drink bitter tea from a paper cup, to weep as he tried to tell his indignation and to sit finally, a towel draped across his bony knees, in silent dejection, peering through puffed eyelids at the cement floor, as hard as the fate he had just been dealt.
"See," said Angelo Dundee, his cut man. "He isn't cut at all. Just slits. Those aren't cuts. Just little slits." There is a sensitivity in the Basilio camp about this matter of cuts. Carmen mumbled something.
"Double left hooks to the stomach," he was saying, choking on the words. "Don't they count for anything in this town? I didn't get credit for infighting. Don't you get credit in this town for left hooks to the body? Infighting, infighting!"