And then the drama came.
The 12th round was an even one. Brown had reduced his speed considerably, leaving Sangchilli the chance to come nearer and gain a few seconds' respite with some infighting. The Spaniard now decided that he could open up against a tiring opponent. The fury that had been raging within Sangchilli during 35 minutes of impotence suddenly broke loose, and he pelted Brown with terrible force.
During the course of the 13th round Brown could do nothing but hang on, and by the time he reached his corner his legs were giving way under him. He had seemed to age 10 years.
In the 14th round, Brown received a blow that cut the arch of his eyebrow. His face was soon streaming with blood. Exhausted, he held himself up only by a miracle, but he still had the will power to finish the round.
That last round seemed interminable. Brown was paralyzing his opponent by hanging on to him, and the referee had to intervene every second to separate the two antagonists as their bodies intertwined. The last gong was the saving of Brown and of all his friends, who were in an agony of apprehension. The announcer collected the notes of the judges and the referee, the decision was read and Brown's arm was raised in victory. He was carried in triumph to his dressing room, where a secretary of the Panamanian delegation presented him with the highest medal conferred by that country. Al Brown was once again champion of the world. Cocteau had succeeded in bringing him back to his title. But what were the poet and the boxer to do now? Within a fortnight Cocteau had made a decision. He wrote an open letter to Brown, which was published in an evening paper:
My dear Al,
You must stop boxing, believe me. Those in the profession will tell you to keep it up and to go on making conquests. They are wrong. Neither your age nor your way of life permits it. You promised me to regain your title and I promised to help you to the end of this astonishing undertaking. This is now done. Leave boxing. You hate it. You wanted to see justice done. The public has proved it loves you, and it places you in a class by yourself. Make the most of your triumph. Do not imitate those stars who drag things out and keep holding on. After the miracle of this revenge, give the world the example of a man who yields place to the young. Of course, I shall be alone in giving you this advice, but I can give it to you dispassionately, because I have played my part and any future failure by you would not redound upon me.
The conquest of other rivals could add nothing to your honors. Those who envy you or think they have some quarrel with you will deny your successes, however brilliant. They will insult the judges. They will use words like "hearse" for the shoulders that carry you in triumph, "weakness" for that elegance of mind which prevents you from striking an enemy who is thrown off balance or leaves himself uncovered, "arrogance" for your calm and "flight" for your cunning. On the other hand, the public that loves you can learn nothing more after those 11 rounds in which you heaped ruse upon ruse on your enemy. Refuse to light. Give up the ring. Tour the world with an act that will enable everyone to witness the sight of your fragile strength. I repeat: take a look at the aging stars, the ruins on the posters covering our walls. Try something new. After one surprise, give us another. Take a magisterial bow. "Ladies and gentlemen, I want to live. I have proved what had to be proved. Over to others. My title was snatched from me. I came back to retrieve it from the pocket of the man who snatched it from me. I bequeath it to whoever may prove worthy of it." Offer us this extraordinary theatrical gesture: a poet wanted a boxer to become world champion again. Once this was achieved, the undertaking was at an end.
I ask it of you, I recommend it to you. No one ever agrees to get out at the right moment. Be wise. Don't do as others do. Get out. This is my last piece of advice.
Al Brown asked for 48 hours to think, and then the champion's reply was published:
My dear Jean,
I shall fight my last match on April 13 at the Palais des Sports against Valentine Angelmann. I had asked 48 hours to think it over. I have thought it over. I have remembered the 23 world championships which figure in my record as a boxer.