Which brings us back to SI's tests of Quarry, Cobb and Pacheco, who is not related to Ali's former doctor. All three men had CAT scans. At Quarry's camp, all three were given neurological exams by Casson and underwent neuropsychological tests, administered by Casson and evaluated by Siegel, who wasn't present. The CAT scans were reviewed and the results confirmed by specialists other than Casson—Ross and the two radiologists who collaborated on his JAMA paper, and Dr. John Bentson of UCLA, where Quarry and Pacheco underwent their scans. Ross and his colleagues did not know the subjects' identities.
First, Cobb. His neurological exam was normal. His CAT scan (left) was normal. His neuropsychological results were also normal. In other words, Cobb shows no evidence of brain damage. Is this surprising, considering the beating he took from Holmes and given that he fits the "slugger" mold? The key fact about Cobb is that he has had only 23 professional bouts, most of them victories by knockout, and no amateur fights at all. (He had been trained in karate.) It can be concluded that the cumulative effects of his short career in the ring have not made a mark—not yet, maybe never.
Next, Pacheco. His neurological exam was normal. But his CAT scan showed a cavum septum pellucidum and a mildly enlarged third ventricle. He performed badly on the neuropsychological tests, says Siegel, who guessed—accurately—that his scan would reveal some damage. But Pacheco is only 23, five years younger than Cobb. "I'll bet this guy had a lot of fights," Siegel had predicted to Casson.
Pacheco says he has been boxing since he was four. He estimates that he has had "over a couple hundred" amateur bouts. In his 11 losses as a pro, he has sometimes been hurt, particularly in the back-to-back TKOs in Portland and New York, and since then in a defeat in California in which the ref stopped the fight in the first round. "The way his record was going," says Dr. Jack Battaglia, who lifted Pacheco's licence after the Portland loss, "he didn't need a CAT scan, he should have just been stopped."
Pacheco himself is disgusted with his career in boxing and won't continue it. "It's not worth it," he says. "The officials are getting worse. I can't give it 100 percent anymore. I'm just tired of it. So I might as well get out before I get hurt." Upon hearing the results of SI's tests, Pacheco reconfirmed his decision to retire.
Finally, Quarry. Like the others', his neurological exam was normal. But his CAT scan was slightly worse than Pacheco's—it showed a cavum, enlarged lateral and third ventricles and a suggestion of cortical atrophy. And his neuropsychological results were poor. Says Casson: "He did poorly on the test of visual motor perception. He did poorly on that test of connecting the dots. The only one he did well on was the digit symbol test. The psychologist and I are not saying that Quarry is punch-drunk where he can't walk straight, that kind of thing. What we're saying is that he has problems with certain cognitive functions—short-term memory and perceptual motor ability."
Quarry had his first formal fight at the age of five, a junior Golden Gloves event. At 16, he had had 105 amateur bouts. His amateur record was 170-13-54, and his pro record 51-8-4. One of his early losses occurred 10 days after he broke an ankle. His trainer, Harold Taber, went to Quarry's father, who was then the boy's co-manager, and told him that Jerry couldn't fight because his ankle was broken. "He's got to fight," Quarry's father said. "We've got to have the money." Before the fight, father and trainer took Quarry to "a Mexican witch doctor," says Taber, "who put fire on his ankle and everything, but they still stuck him in there."
Quarry says, "I fought a lot of fights I shouldn't have fought—one with a broken hand, one with hepatitis and another one with a broken back. I was 22 years old. I was so naive and young I didn't have the intelligence. If I had the intelligence I have now, there's no way in hell I would have gotten in the ring like that. I figured I had some people behind me, especially my father being my co-manager, that they would have pulled me out. But no, they needed the money, so they sent me to the wolves. 'Prostitute him'—that's exactly what they did."
As Quarry says these words, he doesn't sound bitter, and he doesn't sound punchy. A thoughtful, animated man, he is mindful of the need for medical reform in boxing, yet personally philosophical, not bothered by the threat of brain damage. "You step into the ring," he says, "and you know there's a chance of getting knocked out, of getting hurt, but you figure your abilities are good enough that you can handle yourself appropriately." But he hopes that federal legislation will result in uniform medical standards and that these in turn will protect fighters from ruthless managers. "The manager is the one putting a fighter back into the ring one week after he's been knocked out," he says. "But if they have strict enforcement of physicals, then the manager won't have a damn thing to do with it." Quarry's scenario for himself, which apparently wasn't altered by learning the results of the tests, is to get in shape and, if all goes well, mount a challenge for the cruiser-weight title.
Although Casson was troubled by the prospect of Quarry's return to the ring—he urged Quarry against it—he emphasizes that his research has not convinced him that boxing should be banned. Casson describes himself as a sports fan; he will watch a fight on TV. "No matter what anybody says, boxing will continue," he says. But he thinks that young boxers could reduce their chances of injury by passing up unnecessary bouts at the lower levels and fighting only to advance their careers. "Even bums hit you in the head," he observes.