Torres had to do all the selling of the fight—ringside seats were ludicrously overpriced at $50—but he did not have to work too hard. His countrymen, thousands of whom watched his sparring sessions, always turn out for a Torres light, mainly because they want to make sure they are there when Torres finally decides to make a good fight, decides to be the symbol the Puerto Rican people used to carry with them when they landed at Kennedy Airport and began from scratch in Spanish Harlem.
Unfortunately, Torres had tampered with Puerto Rican emotions in his previous fights in San Juan. He knocked out Gene Hamilton and Duilio Nunez but he gave them a disappointing draw with Benny Paret and a wrestling match with Tom McNeeley, and he was humiliated by Florentino Fernandez. But against Calderwood, who is the British Empire champion—though the British do not seem aware of him or his title—it would be different. So they came hoping, marching to the dissonant, high-pitched croaking of the croqui around the stadium, and they left not quite certain as to what they had seen.
It was all so dramatically quick. It looked good, too, but had their passion for physical destruction been fed, had their suspicions of Torres been removed? " Torres," said an observer before the fight, "is in a tough spot. If he knocks the Scot out in the first round, they will say the Scot was a stiff anyway. If he takes the Scot all the way, they will say Torres doesn't have any guns. Torres can't win with his people. They don't care about the art of the sport here. All they want to see is two guys messing each other up. All Torres can do is collect $60,000 for the easiest fight of his life."
It was, even Torres had to admit, a pleasant way to make money. In fact, he seemed to anticipate the pleasantness. Climbing into the ring to a hesitant roar—the fans seemed unwilling to cut loose—he was smiling, and he smiled broadly at Calderwood when the latter entered the ring through his corner. Calderwood, in a plaid robe, moved his pale, old English fighter body across to his own corner, and then sat motionless. When the Puerto Rican anthem was played, Torres sang a soft duet in his corner with his bow-tied trainer.
Moving out of his corner somewhat reluctantly, Calderwood, erect, wearing frayed black shoes, circled Torres and threw a jab every half minute. Torres, usually volcanic in the first round, cooperated, and threw only a minimum of light punches. But early in the second round Calderwood flicked out a jab, and Torres rammed a right hand over it. The right, a perfect punch, crashed into Calderwood's chin, and the tall Scot went down. After he was counted out he got up and, still dazed, started crawling out between the ropes. By this time Torres was leaping high in the air. Surely, he seemed to be saying, they must believe in me now.
"The press here has put all those thoughts in the heads of my people," said Torres. "I was just glad that I could show my people tonight that I am a great fighter."
The Puerto Rican press may or may not be responsible for Torres' situation in his homeland, but it certainly was the most obvious character in the most interesting, comic and absurdly stupid part of the Torres-Calderwood fight. The weigh-in, usually a soporific ritual, overflowed with conflict, much of which centered around Calderwood's manager, Tom Gilmour, some Puerto Rican reporters and Nat Fleischer, the 78-year-old editor of boxing's Ring Magazine. It began when Torres was being weighed.
Calderwood weighed in first at 175 pounds, but Torres was half an hour late for his appearance. In every weigh-in in the history of the world both fighters were present and were weighed one after the other—but not in Puerto Rico. Torres, it seems, had appeared an hour before the official ceremony, got on the scales and found that he was one pound over the 175-pound limit. He then put on a heavy sweater, and went running in the hot sun. When he finally did appear for the weigh-in he stood on the scale, and the boxing commission official shouted that Torres was 175.
Everyone seemed relieved and started walking away, when a Reuters reporter turned to Tom Gilmour and said, with typical English detachment: "Tom, old boy, I think he weighed 176." Enraged, Gilmour demanded that Torres be weighed again. Nobody was listening to him, but soon his demand was crashing over the room.
"Bring him back! Bring him back!" Gilmour screamed in a thick Scottish accent.