The doldrums which have becalmed professional boxing in recent years have had their inevitable effect on the reporting of the sport: the most important story on ring competition has often seemed to be the absence of competition. It has been that way before. Jack Johnson, for example, whose incredible career Finis Farr begins to chronicle in this issue, so dominated his division that opposition was hard to come by. Floyd Patterson is up against the same problem. Fortunately, today the solution is a matter of merit and not of color. Unfortunately, today the boxing beat is sometimes a better place for antitrust specialists than sports reporters.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, of course, has done more than a fair share of reporting on the sport's nonsporting phases, which have involved business dirty, curious or sometimes just inscrutable. Our motive was the conviction that it was in boxing's best interests to do so and that this was the biggest news in boxing at the time. There was always the hope that the news would resume its proper proportions and we could report it with emphasis on the art in the ring instead of the business outside it.
The current flurry of world championship bouts in four different divisions is encouraging.
First interest naturally centers on Floyd Patterson's fifth defense of the heavyweight title. Against Sweden's Ingemar Johansson he probably faces, for the first time since he met Archie Moore, a fighter who has a genuine chance of defeating him.
As a fighter, Johansson, the European champion, is an almost unknown quantity in the U.S. But the preview of the fight in next week's issue should add considerably to the known quantity. A collaboration of Associate Editor Martin Kane, who in January visited Johansson for 10 days in Sweden (SI, Jan. 26), and Artist Robert Riger, it includes four pages of drawings and analyzes Johansson's opportunities for winning.
Based on the characteristic moves of the two fighters, the drawings show how Johansson might be expected to break through Patterson's defense. They are an exceptional exercise in scouting because they project in graphic action two fighters who have never met.
But even better than that, I think, the preview is a boxing story in the center of the ring—where boxing should always be but of late has had such a hard time getting to be.