The Moore fight was a fierce but cleanly fought battle. As the fury and punishment mounted round after round, Ramos and Moore seemed joined in a brotherhood of courage. When the bell sounded for the end of a round, they stopped their assaults as if frozen, then patted one another admiringly before heading to their corners. Moore started fast, and in the second round he caught Ramos with chopping combinations that left Sugar stunned and wobbly. Each time he was hurt, his partisans would chant, "Ra-MOS, Ra-MOS, Ra-MOS," and Sugar would respond with a rally. In the third Ramos changed his tactics. Instead of moving into the body, he stayed outside and started knocking Moore off balance with a vicious, twisting left jab. In the fifth the jab sent Moore reeling across the ring. A shove sent him down, but the referee, George Latka, rightly ruled it a slip. Moore arose and belted Ramos with a right. The Cuban countered with five straight jabs and a right cross that sent Moore's mouthpiece flying and cracked it in several places. Moore kept using it even though it cut his mouth and forced him to swallow blood. In the corner Ketchum had another mouthpiece. It wouldn't fit over Moore's loosened teeth.
In the eighth Moore's right hammered Ramos' eye to a slit, but Ramos kept belting Moore with the left. At the end of the ninth Ramos shook Moore with a strong right. When the bell rang for the 10th Moore charged from his corner and struck Ramos with two solid rights. Ramos fought back and Moore went into a clinch. The fanáticos yelled, "Arriba! arriba!" and Ramos whipped five upper-cuts that sent Moore stumbling across the ring. A quick tattoo of snapping jabs, followed by a right hand, dropped him to the canvas on the seat of his pants. He landed with such force that the back of his head bounced off the lowest strand of the ring ropes. Moore got to his feet at the count of three. Referee Latka dusted off Moore's gloves and sent him back in at the end of the mandatory eight count.
"Moore's eyes looked O.K.," Latka said later, "although the thought ran through my mind that Davey was taking some hard blows. His arms were moving and his reflexes still seemed to be all right. He appeared to be very, very weary, but his eyes were real clear, real sharp, real alert." But, curiously, Latka added that he "had been worried about Moore's legs from the start. Frankly, I've never seen him flounder so much with his footwork. He didn't move like he did in the past. He was tangled up all the time. From the first round on his legs weren't working right. He didn't move like he usually does."
Flounder Moore did as the fight resumed. He stumbled around the ring defenseless while Ramos landed at will. Finally a right smashed Moore through the ropes, draping him over the middle strand, his back to the ring. Even Ramos apparently had had enough; he just stood to the side watching. "I grabbed Ramos by the hand," Latka said, "and was going to give Moore a mandatory eight count even though he wasn't down. But then the bell rang, and I grabbed Moore and pulled him up. I put down my score for the round, and I was about to go over and look at Moore when Willie [Ketchum] came up and said he wanted it stopped. I had determined that if Moore hadn't come around in 30 seconds I was going to stop the fight."
Ramos, the new champion, and Moore, the battered ex-champion, posed for photographers, then walked to their dressing rooms. After talking to reporters, Ramos and Rodriguez, stablemates as well as countrymen, went to a Latin restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard to rejoice in their championships. Ironically, hanging among the pictures of boxers in the window were the championship gloves of the late Benny Paret. Not until morning did Ramos learn of Moore's collapse.
For the better part of three days, until his condition began to deteriorate in the early hours of Monday morning, Moore remained unconscious but alive in the hospital. From the first, however, there was little room for medical doubt—only hope—as to Moore's eventual fate. "In his case, I am very pessimistic," said Dr. Kenneth H. Abbott, one of three brain specialists attending Moore. "My personal feeling is that it is much less than a 50-50 chance." According to Dr. Abbott and Drs. Phillip J. Vogel and Cyril B. Courville, the other specialists, Moore had a bruise on his brain stem. Specifically, it was a swelling about an inch in diameter. The doctors said that the swelling was caused by a fall rather than a punch, and after looking at a video tape of the fight, they concluded that Moore probably suffered the injury when the back of his head struck the ring rope—which has a steel cable core—after the knockdown in the 10th. "This hitting the rope was the only thing that would have given him enough of a jolt to do it," Dr. Courville said. "The jabs earlier probably set the stage." Dr. Vogel said, "I think that explains it pretty well. At least hitting the rope was the coup de grâce. Of course, he got hit in the chin after that happened, and this could have been a contributing factor, too."
The doctors did not consider surgery because, unlike either Paret or Lavorante, Moore had no hemorrhage or clot. They had no choice but to wait—hoping that the swelling might subside. It never did.
The California commission, perhaps the most capable in the country, has already started an investigation. And based on past performance, the commission's report can be expected to be straightforward and unsparing in its criticisms. Moore's death is a terrible thing, but in this case the public interest can best be served by scientific inquiry, not by the hasty pronouncements of the governor.
For a sport so bound up with physical violence, there has been an almost criminal lack of controlled, scientific exploration in the area of protecting that primary target of a fighter's fists, the human head. Prefight encephalographic examinations—which California administers—and a quick look by even the most competent referee during the heat of a championship fight obviously are only part of the answer. If boxing is to survive, its supervisors need to know a lot more about it.
This is an era, for example, in which athletes run faster, jump higher and lift greater and greater weights. Do boxers hit harder than the Sullivans and Ketchels of yesteryear? If they do, as is quite likely, then some protection must be provided for the delicate tissues of the brain, which certainly have not changed with the years. There is both boxing and medical opinion that headgear is ineffective. But that does not necessarily mean that no adequate protective headgear can be found now. The promoters wail that artificial head protection is certain death at the box office, but this is hardly a consideration when the alternative may be death in the ring.