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While the newspaperman continued, I asked Willie the Worm, "Did you happen to watch the main event?"
"No," he said. "Not really. I heard everyone hollering, and I came running out to the top of the runway and peeked, and I saw Joe down—the second time, I guess, he went down in that first round I took one look and ran back to the dressing room. I didn't want to get my mind messed up. I didn't want to see no more. I couldn't believe my eyes."
Outside, the lights were still on, illuminating the center of the infield. People remained seated around the ring, many dozens, as if there were some ceremonial yet to come, some act of punctuation that would close off the evening. Back in the stands in that vast circle were hundreds more, sitting in the darkness—this a long hour after George Foreman had done his work, long after the Worm had done his.
After the first round I said to him, "You can't do it any better. Apply the pressure." Well, he responded, didn't he, with a shot that resounded around the world. Quite something. The fight surely should motivate any young violent-prone person in Jamaica to try on the gloves. Watch them in the streets tomorrow. You'll see hundreds of re-creations, people staggering around who will be Frazier, but most of all will be the kids who want to be Foreman. Yes sir. We showed George how to put Frazier on Queer Street.
The new champion the morning after was sitting on the terrace of his 10th-floor suite, high above the countryside with a direct view to the high hills inland from Kingston. His people had been throwing flyers with his picture off the balcony. They had been fluttering down into the street below for almost an hour, and across onto the tennis courts. Foreman lolled back in his chair, a portrait of contentment, master of all he surveyed. He talked about his three advisers. "Archie Moore was necessary, all business. He balanced Dick Sadler, who knows me best, but is lighthearted about some things. Sandy Saddler was one of the most cold-blooded fighters ever, and he kept that idea around. The team was right."
What instant of the previous night would he remember above all others?
"The next-to-the-last knockdown," he said. "I knew then that I was going to be the new champion, that there was no way Frazier could get up and come back. I knew because I looked and I saw on his face that he was staring around for help."
How much had rage and hate to do with this devastating power?
"Oh, I like Joe Frazier. I pray for him. I always pray for him. I pray twice a day, and I pray for the people I'm conscious of. I've been conscious of Joe Frazier for a number of months. So I prayed for him."