Moore believes that more serious training than he undertook for the Marciano fight ("I was overconfident, as you know") will prevent a recurrence.
He could be right, but recent events speak against him. He has had only two meaningful fights since he just missed taking Rocky's crown, and neither of them supports optimism. One was against Yolande Pompey in London, where Archie defended his light heavyweight title. Archie's admirers were gravely disappointed then, even though in the end he retained his championship. He just didn't look good. The other important fight, if importance can be attached to a ballyhooed mismatch, was against James J. Parker in Toronto; and there Archie's punching was less than satisfactory. He looked better against Parker than against Pompey, pounded him at will and cut him badly, but the fight lasted nine rounds and was stopped only by the referee's pity, and Archie's, for a defenseless opponent. Surely a sound Archie Moore would have taken out a James J. Parker in two or three rounds with a clean knockout. Archie grants the point and says he was not sound.
"After the Pompey fight," he says, "my hands were soft as mush. In England they don't let a fighter protect his hands properly. There is no protection for the fighter whatsoever. London rules state that you can use only eight feet of gauze and only six feet of adhesive on each hand. In the States we can use 10 and 10 each—but it's 10 yards, not feet, if we want that much. So when I was training for the Parker fight I had to use rubber sponges on my hands every day. When I fought Parker my hands were soft."
Archie argues almost as well as he fights.
Chances are that at ringside he will be favored (current odds pick him at 8 to 5), and it does, indeed, seem disrespectful, an act of lese majesty, to pick against him. Those of us who revere the high arts of boxing will feel pain if downfall comes to Archie, kingly upholder of the ancient traditions, but poetic justice is rare in the sport. It seems that Archie must at last be forced to admit his age, that Patterson's youth and all that goes with it must win.
There is a memory here of the gallant, exhausted Moore, sagging in his corner, telling the referee that he would come out for the next round against Marciano, gasping: "I want to be knocked out." It could be like that again.