With one more bout to go in the national AAU boxing championships, Greg Page is lounging in his motel room at Biloxi, Miss. Page is a 19-year-old high school senior. He is also a heavyweight, with 212 pounds on a 6'2�" frame. He hammers a few punches into the pillow on his bed and allows, "I don't like to say nothing"—thud, thud—"that I can't live up to." Whack.
The statement is intriguing. Perhaps Page is a modest fighter, something usually considered a contradiction in terms. If that's the case, how would Page candidly assess his abilities?
"I got Sugar Ray Robinson's smartness," he says. Wham. "I got Jersey Joe Walcott's moves, Joe Louis' jab—and Muhammad Ali's style." Thwack.
Is there anything that Greg Page might possibly be lacking?
"Not that I can think of." Thud. And modesty, always wobbly in the boxing world, is down for the count again.
There are some critics who don't have as much trouble as Page has thinking of things that he might, indeed, lack. Defense tops everybody's list. Some folks also wonder if his moves are as good as his mouth, and there is concern that he might go too quickly for professional dollars when more amateur medals and experience might serve him better for a few years.
Still, nobody disputes the fact that Page is the class of amateur boxing this season, the charismatic figure, the one who is trailed by kids with pencils raised and by grown men with pride lowered who are honored to act as go-fers. Page blitzed the field of 36 heavyweights last week, even though his road to the title was smoothed when both his quarterfinal and semifinal opponents were stricken at the last moment with physical problems and forced to withdraw. "I understand," says Page. "I wouldn't want to fight me, either."
Dr. Edwin Campbell reported that quarterfinalist Steve Zouski of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. had a swollen hand and a bruised, possibly broken, nose. Semifinalist Ed Gregg of New York was suffering from a swollen left shoulder. There were unofficial suggestions that both fighters had contracted a new malady in the division, Pageitis.
A clue that this year's tournament belonged to Greg Page came when he failed to report early in the week for the required physical exam. Officials bent the rules—he could have been automatically disqualified—and Robert J. Surkein, AAU boxing chairman, said, "We're going to give him his first second chance."
Page didn't need any more breaks, although his final match against Cincinnati's Tony Tubbs Saturday night was no laugher. It was the fifth time in seven meetings over the years that Page has whipped Tubbs. Four of the judges awarded Page all three rounds, the fifth gave one round to Tubbs.