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"Patterson will have to fight for his life," Breidbart says happily.
If Jackson's mood really is sustained until fight time it could be a most exciting bout. No one knows, however, what his mood will be from one moment to the next. To avoid newspaper interviews, he has pretended to be stricken with laryngitis, then accepted an invitation to join in the singing of spirituals. He has invented a secret punch, which he calls The Yagash, a word he also seems to have invented. It is a right-hand body blow, delivered downward, and is quite as sensational as the two-fisted uppercut he learned from a kangaroo. He has offended his manager by offering to fight Patterson for nothing, "just to make the world happy."
Breidbart has a stratagem to be used just before the fight. It is designed to put The Hurricane in a proper mood.
"I'm going to have his mother threaten to give him a good licking if he doesn't win," Lippe says, looking very cunning indeed. Mrs. Jackson has returned to the camp to prepare her son's meals. She had been there earlier but departed in a sports model huff when her son complained at being served chopped steak instead of hamburger. The regular chef quit a few days later. The camp press agent, Eddie Walker, has moved to a hotel to steady his nerves.
Both Patterson and Jackson have been training on the five-day week. Jackson's days off present a problem. Easily bored, unable to read, he has invented some amusements—like pretending to be a galley slave while rowing on the Delaware River—but Trainer Bimstein feels that gentler activity is more suitable on a rest day. The Hurricane, therefore, has formed a quartet with three sparring partners and has arbitrarily designated himself tenor. The singing, mostly spirituals, goes on for hours. The Hurricane does not seem to know the words to most of the songs but his high notes are satisfyingly excruciating. He enjoys them. A visitor, seeking conversational relief, inquired the other day what the name of a just-finished number might be. Some of the phrases seemed familiar, though vaguely. Hurricane consulted in whispers with the pianist, then gave the answer: "Nero, My God, to Thee."
Champion Patterson spends his days off training a group of 10-year-old idolators to whom he is devoted.
"Those boys do everything I do," he says proudly. "They do roadwork, punch the bag, skip rope and spar."
Waiting to take them on a picnic, he analyzed the coming fight. He has advised the press that he does not believe he can knock out Jackson, but this, viewed in the light of the twinkle in his eye when he is pressed on the point, may be taken with a cellarful of salt. On the other hand, he has respect for Jackson's ability to take a punch. So does everyone. He has respect, too, for Jackson's ability to confound the properly taught fighter.
"One of the things Jackson does," he said, "is to go into a crouch from which he can't throw anything but a left hook. You look for a left hook. What Jackson does is throw everything but a left hook."
At 22 Patterson probably has stopped growing (lop off about an inch and a half from his official height of 6 feet), but he is broader in shoulders and chest, a development of his muscle system which would indicate that his punch is more effective now. He has deliberately slowed his amazingly fast combinations to something like rocket speed so that each blow in a series carries more power.