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But Cuba, si, U.S., no
Pat Putnam
October 16, 1978
With Olympic heavyweight champion Teofilo Stevenson stopping Jimmy Clark, the Cuban national team walloped the U.S. 8-3 at Madison Square Garden
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October 16, 1978

But Cuba, Si, U.s., No

With Olympic heavyweight champion Teofilo Stevenson stopping Jimmy Clark, the Cuban national team walloped the U.S. 8-3 at Madison Square Garden

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As it turned out, it was his acute awareness of Stevenson's right hand that proved to be Clark's undoing. As the fight moved into its final minute, Clark was certain that the decision was his. Or, rather, that it should have been his. He thought the only way he could lose would be by being on his back. And so he concentrated on Stevenson's right hand.

"And that's when he hit me with the left hook," Clark said later. "I never saw it coming."

It was a good hook, short and crisp, but hardly a destroyer. All of Stevenson's power is packed in the right side. But there is a boxing axiom: It's the punch you don't see coming that knocks you out. Or, at least, down. This hook knocked Clark down.

More surprised than hurt, Clark popped up at the count of two. Quickly, Stevenson moved toward him.

"To tell you the truth, I didn't think too much of the knockdown," said Santiago, the Cuban judge who had scored the fight even going into the last round. He was sitting by that part of the ring where Clark landed.

As Clark got to his feet, Santiago glanced down at his scoresheet. "If what happened next had not happened," he said, "we would have had to spend a very long time analyzing the last round. To me, at that point the fight was even."

No matter. Whatever soul-searching Santiago anticipated was moot, because Stevenson drilled home a fierce right to the point of Clark's chin.

"He hit him just as I looked up from my paper," Santiago said. "I was stunned. I thought that Clark would be up doing his thing. Then the right hit him. I looked at his eyes and all I saw was an emptiness. I said se acabo. It's over."

Referee Bob Surkein, of the U.S., knew it was over, too. He moved in quickly, wrapping his arms around Clark before he could fall. Or before Stevenson could hit him again.

Five minutes after the fight, Surkein, a retired Army major who is both the AAU's and the United States Olympic Committee's boxing chairman, was still shaking his head over the force of the final blow.

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