He intends to
weigh-in at about this 151-pound level. A natural welterweight, he will be
giving away nine pounds in weight and 4� inches in height, but this does not
disturb him at all.
Although he will
not—and indeed cannot—change his style radically for Robinson, he has learned
from a study of Robinson movies that some gambits must be avoided.
instance," he explained, "in my defense I'll have to remember that a
low, low bob is not good against a tall man like Robinson because it gives him
a chance to throw a right upper-cut, and in the Fullmer fights he landed a
couple that way. He has good punching power and good leverage back here
[pointing to the calf of his leg] and if he catches me coming up from a bob he
can hit me with an uppercut to the pit of the stomach. If he does that it's
going to hurt."
this fight, Basilio seems to be thinking rather more of his defense than most
fight fans would expect of him. Against relatively light punchers he does tend
to ignore blows in order to score his own but he has the greatest respect for
Robinson's punch. Working out on the speed bag, for example, he used a strange
upward punch that most of those in the gym never had seen before. It's a
dangerous exercise, for if he should miss the bag he would crash his fist
against the steel swivel or the wooden board and perhaps break the hand.
Basilio grinned when this was pointed out.
A GOOD STUNT
missed but twice in five years," he said. "It's good exercise for
keeping your hands up. You'll notice that lots of times after a few rounds a
fighter will step back and let his hands drop to his sides. That means his arms
are tired and he wants to give them a moment's rest. But this stunt is very
good exercise for strengthening the arms."
Basilio keeps his
hands up but does not hold them tight against his cheeks as Floyd Patterson
does, or as Gene Fullmer did in the first Robinson fight. He holds them
slightly lower and slightly away from his head—close enough to be protective
but at such an angle that he can shoot a sudden hard punch when he is within
face gives the impression that he has been punched a lot. He has, indeed, been
the victim of some bad cuts about the eyes, caused largely by the fact that his
brow bones jut forward and are apparently quite sharp. ( Frankie Ryff, a similar
victim, has recently undergone an operation to round off his brow bones so that
he can return to the ring with some hope that he won't have fights stopped
because of cuts.) But Basilio's face in the main is surprisingly unmarked
otherwise. His prominent nose, for instance, is quite straight. No one has ever
bashed it in. Like any fighter, he can be hit and, like any fighter of his
style, he is hit rather more often than most. But he takes these punches well.
He has never been knocked out. He has been knocked down only once.
Carmen will be up against one of the great single-punch knockout craftsmen of
our time. As Gene Fullmer discovered on the night he lost his brief
championship, Robinson is a master at capitalizing on the opponent's errors.
Sugar Ray does not need to wear his man down. He needs only an opening the size
of a needle's eye. One punch can preserve the middleweight title for Robinson.
One punch can force Basilio to remain king of the welterweights.
he can climb into the higher, more profitable division. Breaking camp at
Alexandria Bay in order to complete his training at Syracuse, he was utterly