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EVERYTHING'S ROSY WITH JOSE
Robert H. Boyle
June 14, 1971
Billy Backus' uncle is Carmen Basilio and his manager's name is Graziano, but none of that helped him defend his title against Jos� Napoles, possibly because Jos� had Ali's man in his corner
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June 14, 1971

Everything's Rosy With Jose

Billy Backus' uncle is Carmen Basilio and his manager's name is Graziano, but none of that helped him defend his title against Jos� Napoles, possibly because Jos� had Ali's man in his corner

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Reassured by Dundee's treatment, Napoles danced out for the second round. As Backus tried to swarm inside, Napoles kept him at a distance with sharp left jabs. After jabbing with the left, Napoles would then retreat a step. The basic strategy was to keep Backus off balance and to hit him with counterpunches as he came in again. Now and then Backus landed some good shots, but he was unable to put together any concentrated attack. He reopened the cut in the second and third rounds, but again Dundee was able to close it and Napoles had no further trouble.

Still, Backus was the aggressor. Once in the sixth, Napoles forgot to step back after jabbing, but Backus missed the opportunity to follow up. Now Backus appeared to have cuts over both eyes. The end came in the eighth round. Backus looked tired and frustrated as Napoles continued to dance, jabbing with his left. Suddenly Napoles knocked Backus to the canvas with a left hook. Dazed, his face covered with blood, Backus arose and tried to carry the fight to Napoles. He walked into a swarm of punches and went down a second time. He pulled himself up on the ropes to beat the count, but Referee Dick Young stopped the fight to call a doctor into the ring. The Mexican fans, thinking Napoles already had won, started screaming, but after the doctor took a quick look at Backus, Young did stop it and raised Napoles' hand in victory. The Forum exploded, and Napoles shouted in Spanish: "My title! My title! My title!"

In the dressing room, still fresh, Napoles spoke of the action while Conde translated. " Backus is a strong guy," he said, "and for a southpaw he has a good right hand. He is a tough kid with heart. He did the same he did to me before. He take me by surprise in the first round, but I get more confidence, and I jab, go out, jab, go out. With my left hand, m�s, m�s, m�s."

Next door, Backus was flat on his back on a table. His petite wife Peggy held an ice pack over his right eye. Peggy Backus can take almost anything that happens in the ring—"I come from a family of fighters," she says—but she was livid over the abuse handed her by Mexican fans. "They gave me the business," she said fiercely. "After I started crying, they gave me the victory sign and jeered. When Napoles fought in Syracuse, we didn't jeer or boo. If we don't cheer, we keep our mouths shut."

In the center of the room, Uncle Carmen, who has been through so many wars, was calm. " Napoles won, but he didn't have that easy a time," he said. "We're gonna look for a rematch. It had the fans standing on their feet."

Whether or not there is a rematch is anyone's guess. But if there is, Cuco Conde will bet all his coconuts it won't take place in Sierracuse.

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