It seemed as if the three of them had never left the dim room in the belly of the Garden, as if they were wax figures and the room was a museum dedicated to losers. Freddy Brown, the trainer who looks like a trainer should, prowled from corner to corner. Jimmy Archer, the brother and manager with a waterfront manner, stood on the edge of the crowd circling the table, his eyes empty. Joey, his long, pale legs swinging slowly, sat on the table and held an ice bag on a cut below his right eye.
"How could dey?" muttered Freddy, his beautifully disarranged face expressing disgust. "How could dey give 'em the foist round? Dey know nothin'."
"I don't know how they judge fights here," said Joey. "This is the second time they give me the business in the Garden."
Nothing had changed—same dialogue, same pictures—since Joey had reached out for Emile Griffith's middle-weight title last July and lost on a split decision. Yet there was a certain quality to his anger and bitterness that first time, and you could feel it and you wanted to believe him, because he alone had made the evening special, made it hum like a huge electric cable. The Archer who brooded last week was just performing. Had he performed as well in the ring he would now be the champion.
"I'll give him this, though," says Gil Clancy, Griffith's co-manager. "He's the best negative fighter around. He's some guy to fight. He's never there, and he's always ready to run."
That, of course, is exactly the kind of fight Archer made against Griffith. It is the only fight Archer knows how to make, and it is a style—move, jab, think, defend—that has always belonged to the Irish. Stand-up Irish fighters they called them in another time, and even now in certain musty old saloons in New York their yellow photographs hang high on the wall behind the long, stained bars. The legend is Archer's appeal, and from the crowd's standpoint it made his first fight and second fight with Griffith two of the most galvanic nights in recent Garden history. Archer, however, contends that his style is not appreciated by ring officials today, that it has cost him in two fights with Griffith. Perhaps, but Archer—12 pounds heavier and an inch taller—has never stepped out and handled Griffith, technically or physically.
The most impressive aspect of Archer's fight was the brilliant way in which he protected his eye. Cut early in the second round, Archer never gave Griffith a chance to work on the wound. He clutched Griffith, grabbed his neck, spun him, danced out of danger and fell into his natural rhythm of stick and jab. After six rounds, Archer was leading, 4-2. Griffith seemed uninterested. Possibly Archer bored him, or maybe he was thinking of his white poodle, Don Achilles, or his 35 suits, or the mob of relatives he supports.
"You've got to come on, Emile, or you'll blow the title," warned Clancy in Griffith's corner. "Put the pressure on him and fight."
Griffith began to take command in the next round. He won the seventh, eighth and the ninth, in which he scored with a spectacular triple hook; Griffith is often a sloppy puncher, but these hooks were the best and most exciting punches he has thrown in years. Emile lost the tenth ("fogged out again," said Clancy) but got serious again in the 11th and stayed in the fight the rest of the way. Going into the last two rounds, Archer had to win both of them just to gain a draw.
" Joey Archer fought better the first time," said Griffith. "The first time he was hungry for my title. This time he wanted the money—that's all."