Muhammad Ali, beware! Three or four years from now, when you have lost a trifle of your speed, a young man from the hinterlands whose name you may see here for the first time very likely will knock you as stiff as you knocked Sonny Liston. There are six prime candidates for this role on the following pages. But you may be wise to devote most of your attention to studying the picture of Jerry Quarry (right). Quarry has a date with Buster Mathis in New York's Madison Square Garden on March 4. Six other young heavyweights will fight on the same card. Suddenly, and for the first time in years, the heavyweight division looks healthy.
Quarry, who lives in a suburb of Los Angeles and has had only 15 professional fights, should be ready to take the huge but versatile Mathis, who has fought professionally five times. Quarry has won 14 and fought a draw with Tommy Doyle; eight of his victories came by knockout. Although he will not be 21 until, this May, he has been fighting for 15 years and his moves are much more sophisticated than one would expect in so young a heavyweight.
He is very much aware of Cassius Clay. "I should be ready for him maybe by 1967," he said the other day in a small Mexican restaurant near the Main Street Gym in Los Angeles, where he trains. He looks like a bigger and much stronger Billy Conn and, like Conn, he is Irish.
"Three years," his father said. Jack Quarry is a truck driver and co-manager of his son. He was a fighter of sorts in his youth, and Jerry is one of four sons, all fighters. "Other guys it might take five years," Jack said. "But Jerry has to come along faster."
"I have trouble getting the kind of fights I want," Jerry said. He spread his hands on the table and looked down at them. The only scar on his face after 130 amateur and 15 pro fights is a small one over his left eye, and he got that in a collision playing touch football. But his hands could belong to a man who has been fighting for 40 years. He is a savage puncher with either hand and the knuckles are gnarled and lumpy. Anyone he can hit he can take out.
"The guys with his experience don't want him," explained Johnny Flores, his other manager. "The big guys we're not ready for yet. I think Jerry could take most of them but we don't want to step up too far in class yet. He has things to learn. We want to move him slow."
"I have trouble with a guy moves away from me," Jerry said. "I don't punch as good moving forward. If the guy comes to me, that's what I like. Like this fight I had in Vegas the other night. This guy ran like a thief. I wasn't real loose. I think maybe I was gym-stale. But I'd get him cornered and he'd cover up and I couldn't get to him."
Quarry's opponent was Ed Land, a talkative young man who must have heard that Quarry has a temper.
"About the fifth round he said to me, 'I'm carrying you,' " Jerry said and grinned. "So I said, 'Maybe so, but you're losing the fight.' I didn't lose my temper until after, when he came in my dressing room and started smarting off. 'I'm going to get in shape and knock you out,' he says. 'You're just a bum.' I told his second to get him out of there before he got hurt. He got out."
Unfortunately for Land, he encountered Mary Kathleen O'Casey Quarry just outside the door. She is Jerry's pretty, 5-foot wife and she promptly stepped on Land's toe.