Toward the middle of Round 4, Jones hurt McCrory with a heavy left hook. Yet there was no follow-up, McCrory again running out of trouble, scoring on the retreat with light lefts. It seemed, though, that this time Jones was going to come into the fight a good deal earlier than he had in Reno, which was just what his manager, Eddie Thomas, had planned.
"Colin's going to start in on him early, then McCrory's going to run," Thomas had said. "And if he runs, he'll burn up. You can't run away from the sun." The remark had seemed not without an element of wishful thinking, since it was logical to assume that, coming from cool Wales, Jones might have to struggle to overcome that factor himself. "Thank God for the 12-round rule in a place like this," Thomas had added, "though it would have been our fight if it had gone 15 in Reno. I'm told the Kronk [he made it sound like an entity from Star Wars IV] keeps their gym heated to 100 degrees."
Jones had worked out in the Nevada heat for four weeks, but instead of having Jones spar up to nine rounds a day, as he would have at home, Thomas kept him to a maximum of seven.
Last week a 200-strong contingent of Welsh supporters showed up in Vegas and promptly took over the bar at the Dunes. Jones dropped by each night, protectively flanked by his father, Raymond, and brother, Ken, and was relaxed and happy—until two days before the fight.
That was when Promoter Don King, having found a fiscal mess at the financially pressured Dunes, caused some anxious moments. On Thursday morning Jones sat bleak-faced in his manager's room, staring at an open magazine without reading it, still trying to absorb what he understood to be King's suggestion that Jones take a one-third cut in the purse he had been promised before he left Wales—$300,000, that is, instead of $450,000, a record sum for a British boxer. "A little naughty, isn't it? Two days before the fight," said Thomas. "Look what it's doing to my fighter."
Lawyers moved in. By day's end the matter was settled, and King dropped the issue. But it was still uncertain how the business had affected Jones, though an answer might have been found when it came to Round 7 against McCrory.
The fifth had been the first round the Welshman clearly won. In the sixth it was obvious that McCrory was losing confidence. He was lying on Jones to smother the punches and looking anxiously at his corner.
It was in the seventh that Jones unleashed an attack of such fury that he might have been seeing King, not McCrory, in front of him. He started early with a jolting right hook to McCrory's jaw, followed it with a left hook to the body, and from then on it was barely possible to count the punches that had McCrory rolling back.
The Iceman, in fact, looked to be melting. Indeed, the name has always been a puzzling one. In reality, it is tempting to mark a big "N" ahead of the "ice" because it would be difficult to find a milder-mannered fighter than McCrory. At the end of what appeared to be a disastrous round for McCrory, one reflected on the curiously passionless attitude he had displayed about his boxing. "This is a job to me," he had said earlier. "When this fight's over, I'll stay away from boxing as long as I can. I don't want to read about it, talk about it. Baseball is what I love. My sports hero is Al Kaline...."
But some patron saint of baseball lovers must have been looking down because, extraordinarily, in the eighth, Jones let McCrory rest, recover, did just enough to keep McCrory from winning the round; stood there and let the Detroiter off the hook. Not until late in the ninth did Jones chase McCrory in earnest again, catching him with a left hook to the temple, then with a combination. But it was too late.