The way big-name athletes popped into the news last week, neatly paired off in smiling buddy-chum poses, was heartening to contemplate. Most heartening of all was the sight of the two fresh young faces at the left, which may have a lot-to do with the changing face of boxing in the U.S. Just 11 days after the U.S. Supreme Court's dissolution of the monopolistic IBC, Ingemar Johansson, tousle-haired and sporty as all get-out in his Gothenburg Golf Club blazer, flew in from his native Sweden to sign up with Promoter Bill Rosensohn for a heavyweight championship fight with Floyd Patterson in June. Rosensohn, a Williams man who talks like a Williams man should and dresses in neat sport jackets and button-down Brooks Brothers collars and conducts himself in a vaguely civilized manner that makes him unique in the so-called annals of fistiania, had good reason to oblige the press with a smile as he reassuringly squeezed the rugged Swede's biceps to prove it was all it is pumped up to be.
The terms when all ironed out will call for Patterson to receive 40% of the gross receipts (against a $250,000 guarantee) and Johansson to receive 20% of the gross receipts (against a $100,000 guarantee) and a return bout within 90 days in the U.S. if Ingo wins. Ingo has no doubts about that eventuality: "If I hit him with my right hand I will knock him out. Nobody can take that punch. But if I cannot hit him with my right, why then I will try to win the decision."
Rosensohn (who last week had finished reading Conrad's Victory and was well into Doctor Zhivago and who likes nothing better than simultaneously watching a horse race and a basketball game on his two television sets while listening to a second basketball game on his radio) is just as confident and prepossessing as Ingo. "I will bet you right now," he says, "that this fight will draw more than 60,000 paid." Although Rosensohn has not yet chosen the site of the fight, it will, most likely, take place either in Los Angeles, whose 130,000 seat Coliseum represents a "tremendous challenge" to Rosensohn, or in Yankee Stadium, which Johansson favors because he feels more of his countrymen will come to New York to give him "psychological support."
"I'd like to put this fight on home TV," Rosensohn says, "and if I can use it for bait to get a weekly boxing show I will. I'm negotiating right now with one of the networks which carries an IBC show. If that doesn't work out, I'll put it on theater TV."