In the past, in private, Cassius Clay, also known as Muhammad Ali, has referred to himself as Superspade. So if he can clear tall mosques in a single bound it follows that he didn't knock out Floyd Patterson because he didn't want to. No, it doesn't follow. Clay admits he wasn't trying in the first four rounds, but after that it was for real, since he had somewhat cruelly prophesied:
I'm going to put him flat on his bock So that he will start acting black.
Or, as Chris Dundee, his manager's brother, says, sort of kidding, "Clay lied to me. He told me he would carry him for six or seven rounds and then knock him out, so he made me blow a bet, the bum."
Clay didn't knock Patterson out because, in less than 25 words, he couldn't.
As Manager Angelo Dundee puts it, "He started out at a slow pace, and when you do that it's difficult to gear up."
If you don't knock a Patterson out early, you don't knock him out. He doesn't have a glass jaw. What he has is poor balance, and in the first few rounds, when he is readily diverted, he doesn't see the punches. It is a type of stage fright, which generally passes after the third round.
Moreover, Clay became conspicuously arm-weary and faintly alarmed. When he failed to put Patterson away in the sixth it dawned on him that the fight might go 15. As he said, "Fighting at that pace tires a man out, and the last four rounds can get you beat. I hit him so regular and so hard I had to back off to keep from wearing myself out." Indeed, Patterson was punching stronger at the end than in the beginning; the referee gave him the. 11th round.
Clay said beforehand he was going to "chastise" Patterson. After it was all over he acknowledged he had done that, and that he had no regrets, because "I do what I want to do. I'm something else. I'm a new kind of man." This is a man who lives off his ego as the salamander is supposed to have his tail for lunch. He also said he was going to knock Patterson out. So what would be the point in letting him stand there?
Actually, Clay's aim was not as true as it sometimes has been. He was hitting a lot of elbows and the top of Patterson's head—witness the swollen hands Clay displayed after the fight. Although Floyd was impeded by his aching back, so that he could not pivot to his left or bob in more than one direction, he was much more adroit than heretofore at knocking aside and picking off punches—witness his unmarked face. This is all the more remarkable because Patterson suffered a hitherto undisclosed blood clot in his left eye that greatly limited his vision. Says Floyd: "If Clay had realized this, he could have hit me all night long with right hands."
About the bad back. Patterson has had it for more than a decade—it has now been traced back to 1952—and it was never any kind of a secret; he slept on a board for years. It comes and it goes, and it could just as easily have happened in any of his previous fights, so if he was defrauding the public by going into the ring against Clay, he had been defrauding it all along. According to Dr. Reginald Gold, a chiropractor who used to treat Patterson, what Floyd has is a subluxation, which is a slight rotation of the fifth lumbar vertebra. This tends to go out of whack because of Patterson's constant weaving and the great wrenches when he misses hooks. Dr. Gold openly accompanied Patterson to the third Ingemar Johansson fight and to both Sonny Liston fights. After nearly every training session he would set up his portable table and work on Floyd.