Everywhere, for so long now, from the dark, dank gyms and the rooms where the schemes are hatched, to the balconies and ringside with all its shimmering glamour, they have been waiting for Jerry Quarry. A white heavyweight, who could make the old remember and the young interested, who could take the sport and throttle breath back into it. Then the promoters could return to white-on-white shirts and fat rings, the managers could have a solid model for all the young kids who prefer changing tires in gas stations to pain, and for the fighter it would be one long and beautiful ride down velvet alley.
The trouble is that acceptance does not come easily. Suspicion, impatience and sudden dismissal, even by those who passionately want such a fighter and by boxing, which needs him desperately, trail the white heavyweight like another man's shadow. Personally, he can be psychotic, think that Police Commissioner Bull Connor is a sweet man who just eats too much or that Valley of the Dolls is a work of inspired genius, but in the ring he must perform, be the fighter that all the ancient gurus, who lie over 15� beers, claim all white heavyweights of another time once were.
Last week Jerry Quarry, neither psychotic nor stupid and far from immortality, defeated Floyd Patterson in the fourth and final quarterfinal match of the heavyweight elimination tournament. The bout, promoted by Aileen Eaton (page 76), attracted 5,300 paying customers to the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, 3,576 more to a closed-circuit television showing at the nearby Sports Arena and a national audience over ABC. But nobody at the Olympic threw any money into the ring, which is the custom there after a good fight and decision. This time they threw cups full of beer and other objects, none of which, refreshingly, could render one insensible. The fight itself—interesting and made exciting by Patterson's stout heart—did not ignite the crowd. It was the decision—quite questionable if not completely recondite—that did.
Floyd Patterson has now fought 22 rounds with Quarry. In the first bout, which Patterson won—but officially was awarded only a draw—he was a victim of points and the curious California scoring system that allows the maximum of five points to the winner of a round and none to a loser. Quarry, after scoring two knockdowns, was given a total of 10 points. Patterson got only five points when he sent Quarry to the floor. Patterson won maybe six or seven rounds in that first 10-round fight. This second, which went 12 rounds, was similarly inequitable.
Twice last Saturday afternoon Patterson went down, in the second and fourth rounds. The first knockdown came after an exchange in a neutral corner. Quarry beat Patterson to the punch, and gunned him, sending him to a sitting position. Patterson was down on one knee in the fourth after catching a short right; it looked like a slip this time, but it was a knockdown, if not a very good one. Neither time was Patterson really hurt, and Quarry did not deserve more than one point. Yet one judge—who should have two weeks' rest and no visitors—gave Quarry three points for the poor second knockdown. One wonders what he would have given Quarry if Patterson had had to crawl back to his corner.
By then Patterson was in serious trouble on points; Quarry had won the second, third and fourth rounds, and Patterson had taken the first and fifth. He was behind on points by, say, 5-2 or 6-2, depending on the judge. Only a knockout or a shutout of Quarry the rest of the way could save the fight. Quarry realized this and stayed away from Patterson most of the time after the sixth, which Quarry won with some brilliant body punching that left Patterson frozen. After the sixth, it was practically Patterson's fight. Quarry just did not deliver.
The two judges scored the fight 7-6 each for Quarry, and the referee, who after the sixth round allowed Quarry to lie and hang on Patterson without punching, scored it a draw, 6-6. Patterson deserved at least a draw; indeed, had Quarry been given only one point for each of his knockdowns, Patterson would have won. He certainly won this fight on rounds—6-4 and two even. A fight should be judged on the basis of the complete picture, and in this bout Patterson was the picture.
The California point system gives too much latitude to judges to run amuck with their pencils on knockdowns. A knockdown is only a section of the fight. It is not the whole fight. The system also provides a device that certain boxers can use too effectively: get in front early and then disappear, an odious strategy that satisfies nobody. The fighter who is there to go 12 rounds if unlucky early is faced with a man who wants only to survive, or maybe at best wants simply to steal a round or two, which is what Quarry did. After the sixth he kept looking at the clock, and then near the end of a round he would start to flurry.
"What do they want us to do?" asked Johnny Flores, Quarry's co-manager. "We gambled to try to knock Floyd out early. If not, then we had to stay away. He's too dangerous. He's a professional. Jerry doesn't have the stamina."
"I knew I couldn't take him out after the sixth," said Quarry. "He's got too much heart."