And in the 12th he observed that the timing of a left-right combination (just about the only combination Liston possesses) was "not good." Nor did he think much of Liston's right by itself, for it seemed much too predictable.
"A right hand should go like Sugar Ray Robinson's did when he was at the top," Ingemar explained, savoring the memory of Sugar Ray's right exploding out of nowhere. Against Machen, and later against Patterson, Ingemar's own right was thrown in just that way.
There was the official decision in favor of a seemingly bewildered Liston, and then Willi Besmanoff, a consistent loser, came on the screen. This was almost a year before the Machen fight and, as Ingemar pointed out, Liston had been slimmer then, which might account for the fact that he also looked faster against Besmanoff, whom he stopped in the seventh round. Ingemar observed that Liston looked strong when Besmanoff closed with him but that neither appeared to know anything about infighting.
"Besmanoff just goes in and does nothing," he said. "But Besmanoff looks better than when he was fighting Archie Moore [who twice defeated him in 10 rounds]. Right away I can see that."
He gasped as Liston let a perfect knockout opportunity slip by and was himself exposed in the process.
"Oh, Marciano would have kayoed him very fast!" he said, thinking, no doubt, that Ingemar Johansson might have done the same with such an opportunity. He admired Liston's jab once more but pointed out that it was too slow, for all its ponderous power, and this meant that a faster fighter would slip it. Liston was missing with his hook, too, Ingemar noted. The never-brilliant Besmanoff was, in fact, slipping the jab and blocking the hook or, at times, moving inside the hook and catching only the force of Liston's forearm.
" Liston is very easy to hit with a straight left himself," Johansson went on, watching Besmanoff do it. He remarked that he had been told that no one ever has subjected Liston to a body attack—a fact of some significance, since Patterson's body attack is painfully powerful. He has often used it to weaken opponents for the knockout.
"I understand Patterson is counting on that," Ingemar said. "Some friends tell me."
After the knockout, which had been increasingly predictable, we adjourned to the bar where, over a Coca-Cola, Ingemar pondered what he had seen.
"I tell you," he said finally, "that after I see these films I think more of Patterson's chances."