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Back home, Willie continued to train and stack bread at Pathmark. Rose Lejeune, who works at the market and lived in Willie's neighborhood, saw Willie running in the morning. Willie told everyone in the market that he had won in London, but they soon heard otherwise.
Because Classen was planning to box again, he had to renew his New York license, which meant he had to take the annual medical examination, consisting of a general physical, a neurological exam, an electroencephalogram and an electrocardiogram. On Nov. 13, Classen reported to the commission for the EEG, which was also required by his medical suspension after the knockout by Locicero. On Nov. 20, Classen took the rest of the medical exam. Dr. Edwin Campbell, who examined Classen, found no evidence of current drug use. Classen told him that he had fought in London and had been stopped on cuts. He said nothing about the knockout. Minuto said nothing, but to appease his conscience he told the doctor during Classen's first visit on Nov. 13 to be sure to give him the EEG. Campbell cleared Classen to fight.
Then Jack Brami asked Minuto if Classen would fight Scypion in a 10-rounder at the Felt Forum. As Minuto describes it, Brami hardly appears to have been against the match: "Brami says, and I'll give you his exact words, 'I'll give you $1,000. Who do you think would want to use your fighter? He's been stopped twice.' " Asked what Brami meant when he said that Classen had been stopped twice, Minuto says, "What does it mean? It means, of course, that Brami knew he'd been stopped in England by Sibson. Do you think they don't know? If you were a matchmaker, wouldn't you know? You know who you're putting in a show."
Minuto turned down the offer. He had never heard of Scypion, even though Scypion had knocked out every opponent he had faced. The Ring magazine had prepared an article stating that "When opponents step into the ring against him, they fight to survive, not to win." Minuto decided to check out Scypion, who was training in Gleason's Gym. "He was very raw," Minuto says. "Scypion was not the fighter his record showed. I thought Willie could hit him and knock him out. Willie was peaking in his training. I saw Gil Clancy and signed for $1,500. My feelings were that if Willie beat the hottest fighter in the country, he'd be right back on top. Those two other fights [Locicero and Sibson] when he was stopped meant nothing."
On Nov. 23, the day of the fight, Drs. Richard Izquierdo and Roger Warner, the attending physicians, checked Classen at the weigh-in at 11 a.m. They also checked him that night before the fight and found him fit. Izquierdo was later to become the subject of controversy when it was learned that he also was Classen's personal physician, thus creating a possible conflict of interest. Neither doctor had any training in neurology.
The referee was Lew Eskin, who is unpopular with some managers who say he can't control a bout because he won't put his hands on fighters to break them. Six months previously in New Jersey, Paddy Flood had complained to promoter Al Sesto, "This guy Eskin will get a fighter killed or start a riot."
Eskin counters criticism of his style by saying, "I think that when you put your hands on fighters you lose control." Eskin also contends Classen shouldn't have been allowed to fight Scypion. "I knew about the knockout in London, but the commission okayed the match. Clancy knew it. Why wasn't he suspended?"
Classen's cornerman, Al LaCava, says Classen asked him to work the fight that night. Mike Capriano, the other cornerman, later testified that Classen did not look good in the dressing room and that he told that to Minuto. Minuto says he was not in the dressing room but outside watching the other fights.
Scypion knocked Classen down in the third round. "In the fourth Willie didn't look right," Minuto says. "I turned around to Capriano and said, 'Give me the razor. This fight's off. I want to cut the gloves.' " Minuto remembers Capriano responding, "Don't worry about it. You know this kid's a beast. No one can stand toe to toe with Willie. Sooner or later he'll get him. When the kid wants to fight, he can take care of anybody." So the fight continued. "In the fifth round," Minuto says, "Willie hit Scypion with a left hook, and Scypion started to run. In the corner we said, 'You hurt him,' and he said, 'I know.' Willie became the aggressor. After the sixth round I told him, 'You're chasing. You'll walk into a right. Take your time.' In the seventh and eighth rounds, he chased with his guard down. Early in the ninth, Willie got caught with an overhand right, and Scypion saw that he had hurt Willie and just went after him. Then Willie got hit with a second overhand right that was devastating. It caught him right by the back of the head. I saw that Willie was hurt, and [after the bell] I went to the middle of the ring to take him to the corner. He was cut inside the left eyelid. I gave that first priority because I could talk to him as I was putting pressure on the eye. As I started to talk to him, Dr. Warner came from the right, then Dr. Izquierdo from my left. I backed off. Both of the doctors started talking to Willie and he's responding to them."
During the ninth round, fans in the crowd had started yelling for the fight to be stopped. Harold Valan, a referee at ringside, called out, "Lew! Lew! Stop it!" Eskin was one of several persons who could have stopped the fight. Either of the doctors could have stopped it, and so could Minuto, although he later testified he didn't know that he could. In any event, no one did.