When Don Jordan, the Geronimo Kid, won the world welterweight title from Virgil Akins a year ago last December he was the traditional hungry fighter come up the hard way—splendidly conditioned, viciously intent on victory, using wits as well as fists. Last Friday night in Las Vegas, Jordan came down from his throne just as hard as he came up. He lost to a fighter who could hurt him but was incapable of mercifully knocking him out. Soon he may be hungry once more, for his financial condition is precarious. And it does not appear that he will ever again be of much account as a fighter.
As early as the fifth round of his 15-round title fight with 23-year-old Benny (Kid) Paret, a light-punching Cuban of no distinction, it was clear that Don Jordan had lost almost everything but courage. He endured a most painful body beating. As an inadequate infighter he took a score of uppercuts to the head without seeming to know how he might avoid them. In the late rounds he fought with brief surges of desperate gallantry, but he could not sustain them. And so another world boxing title left the United States.
It left by way of Las Vegas and in as plush an arena as ever saw champion meet challenger. The city's Convention Center is a magnificent, air-conditioned, mushroom-shaped building with deeply carpeted lobbies, a cocktail lounge, tile and stucco walls in pastel colors and, so help me, net curtains. It is a far cry from St. Nick's, or any other American fight club. Even the audience was pretty: show girls from the casino revues were sprinkled about ringside.
The new champion is one of the youngest ever to win the title. An illiterate who signs contracts with a thumbprint, Paret first came to wide notice when he fought a surprise draw with Jos� Torres in Puerto Rico. More recently, he enjoyed two decisions over Charlie Scott and drew in 12 rounds with Federico Thompson, the Argentine, the same Thompson who knocked out Jordan in four rounds last December. That knockout, and Jordan's defeat at the hands of Candy McFarland in Baltimore on May 16, signaled that Jordan was washed up. Paret was a 2-to-1 favorite.
The disintegration of a champion is sometimes swift, as in Jordan's case, or exceedingly slow, as in the case of the wondrous Archie Moore, the light heavyweight champion, who on the preceding Wednesday stopped Heavyweight Willi Besmanoff in a decidedly over-the-weight match at Indianapolis. Archie came into the ring at a majestic 206� pounds, which is 31� pounds over the weight he must make if he is to defend his title against Erich Schoppner in a few weeks. Doffing his robe of white silk brocade, the venerable Archie unveiled a paunch a gourmet would be proud of, and one a fighter should never wear. But after the paunch he unveiled his punch.
That big belly made no difference in the result. Knocked down in the second round for no count, Archie rose as he always does and went on to win every succeeding round but the seventh, which was scored even. One of his uppercuts knocked Besmanoff down in the fifth. In the ninth Willi made the mistake of landing a solid right under Archie's proud heart.
The Moore response, a predictable one, was to teach Willi his manners with a crashing overhand right ("I descended at an angle of 90 ," Archie said later), and down went the 1983�-pound Besmanoff, certainly at an angle of 90�, with a crash that shook the ring. The bell rang before 10.
A relatively light tap in the 10th started blood streaming from Besmanoff's nose and gushing from his mouth, so hideously that Referee Frank Gilmer stopped the fight. Archie won a technical knockout. He did not seem surprised.
Sometimes a dressing room chat with Archie is better entertainment than his fight. This was a night like that. Fending off polite inquiries about his midriff displacement, Archie disclosed that unlike ordinary men who must do grueling roadwork and other dreary chores to prepare for a fight, he has perfected a new method of training.
"I fight myself into condition," he explained. "I get into better shape with each succeeding round. You must have noticed that."