"When that horrible right landed," Surkein said, " Clark's eyes turned into his head. I'd never seen that happen before. I grabbed him and helped him over to his corner. He didn't even know I had stopped the fight."
Outside the ring, Clark has his head together at all times. He is an honor student in criminal justice who is so devoted to his studies that he was unable to attend the world boxing championships in Belgrade last May because of a schedule conflict. "I don't know yet about the Olympics," he says, "because I don't know what I'll be doing." Among the things that Clark hopes to be doing someday is running for public office. "I'm at a point in my life when I don't leave anything up to chance," he says. "I know that boxing gets into your blood and it gets hard to put down your gloves. I try to calculate and design every part of my life." Obviously, that doesn't hold for left hooks thrown by large Cubans.
Dual international boxing matches are officiated by four men, two from each country. They alternate so that, for example, for one bout there are two Cuban judges and one American and for the next, two American judges and one Cuban. The fourth official becomes the non-scoring referee. But, as one Cuban said, smiling slightly, "If the fight is not totally one-sided, we vote correctly." Sad to say, U.S. judges do the same thing. As one Cuban official said Friday night, 'It was a fair exchange. Sometimes the Americans had two judges, and sometimes we had two judges."
The only thing that can throw the whole system out of whack is a knockout. If it weren't for that possibility or that of a fight being stopped because of cuts, they could hold the matches by mail.
Which may be one of the many things that wreck Bob Arum's visionary scheme to have Stevenson and Muhammad Ali meet in a series of five three-round bouts.
The Association of International Boxing of Amateurs has approved the proposed series, providing, of course, that Stevenson doesn't get paid. That presents no problem. While Ali would get $2.4 million, Stevenson's $1.1 million is to go to the Cuban Boxing Federation. The Cubans will also get expenses for 50 people, plus the use of a chartered plane.
At first Arum wanted the series to begin next February at Madison Square Garden, move to Philadelphia and Houston, and then on to Las Vegas before winding up at the Forum in Los Angeles. In addition, he had hoped to stage a world-championship fight (say, Carlos Palomino and Wilfredo Benitez for the welterweight title, or Mike Rossman against either Eddie Gregory or Victor Galindez for the light heavyweight championship) in conjunction with each bout in the Ali-Stevenson series. But that posed another problem. The title matches were an added starter and don't have AIBA approval. There was some question that Stevenson's amateur standing might be affected. The AIBA said it will consider the matter at a meeting in Madrid in November.
The Cubans have now said they would like two of the matches in Havana, and neither Ali nor Arum objects. CBS said it was very interested, but it is still very much uncommitted.
Although the Cubans also insisted on having the bouts scored according to international rules to protect Stevenson's amateur standing, that aspect of the series has yet to be determined. "We're still discussing the judging," Arum said after Friday's fights, "but I think eventually we'll agree to using one referee, mutually consented to by both sides, and then have a newspaper decision, leaving the result up to the journalists on hand."
Although journalists have been known to be jingoistic, too, it is doubtful that they would be any more so than the four judges who worked the bouts at the Garden Friday night. All of the first five fights were relatively close, and all of the winners just happened to be of the same nationality as the majority of the judges.