Becerra vs. Halimi preceded Ortiz vs. Torres. Becerra used his superior strength well against Halimi, forcing his way out of tight spots, boring into close quarters when Halimi sought to make it a stick-and-run affair. The Halimi jab, generally effective in staving off Becerra, often was nullified by a brutish rush. At such moments—when Becerra and Halimi stood head to head and slugged—Becerra was wild but impressively strong. Halimi, poised and efficient, was overpowered. In the end, power prevailed.
Despite a night chill that had steam blowing from the fighters' nostrils and rising off their sweaty shoulders, and induced Becerra to cover up with a quilted robe between rounds, neither man was slowed by the temperature.
Later there was some dispute as to what, if anything, set up the ninth-round knockout punch—whether it was a left to the liver, as Becerra insisted, or a right to the body, as seen by Referee Tommy Hart. At ringside it appeared that no punch of special significance preceded the long left hook that Becerra swung grandly from somewhere behind his hips, a swing that stopped on Halimi's mouth and chin, sent him staggering back and, after a momentary pause, dropped him flat on the canvas for the full count. Minutes later, when he was finally led from the ring, Halimi walked groggily, unseeing, up the aisle.
Becerra's hard-won victory left him weeping through a shy smile as he was crowned with a magnificent sombrero and draped in an elegant Indian blanket. The first to win the undisputed bantam title for Mexico, he follows in a tradition of hard-punching Mexican fighters brought to brief prominence by the Eatons and by Matchmaker George Parnassus, but he is also the first of the lot to show signs of combining the big punch with some defensive skill.
IRISH PUERTO RICAN
The unfortunate Battling Torres, on the other hand, displayed only hardihood against right hands. He caught punches on his head in every round. Ortiz, the pale-faced, blond Puerto Rican who sports the green of New York's Fighting 69th on his robe and trunks and is known to his fans in that traditionally Irish regiment as "Charlie O'Brien," banged Torres with a straight overhand right whenever it seemed opportune, and opportunity knocked with monotonous frequency.
Not that the fight was monotonous. For one thing, every one of those Ortiz right hands was a gasper; and, though the fight was one-sided, all bettors on Ortiz were terrorized by the everpresent menace of Torres' fists, by his willingness to throw them at every chance, by the hazard that one of them would land with the timing needed for a knockout. But Ortiz shook the punches off, picked them off and continued to throw his own. The ninth round revealed that Torres was tiring, and the start of the 10th proved he could no longer absorb blows without obvious effect. Ortiz slammed home a paralyzing left and right. Torres fell, and the screaming Mexican partisans went suddenly silent. The title of junior welterweight champion is not, of course, worth much in itself. But Ortiz, conqueror of Kenny Lane, who had come within a point or two of beating Lightweight Champion Joe Brown, started a vigorous postfight campaign for a chance at Brown. Next day the Mexican caravan started homeward, happy that Becerra had retained his title, half-comforted that the double-title card had ended in a Mexican standoff.
At the invitation of the California boxing commission, recently resigned from the National Boxing Association in protest against NBA inadequacies, representatives of boxing commissions from Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Washington, New York and Oregon convened in Los Angeles the day after the fights to consider informally some suggestions for ridding boxing of hoodlums and for developing an efficient national body to rule the sport.
The most original proposal came from Miles Rubin, deputy attorney general of California, who suggested that the principle of "interstate compacts" might be used to regulate boxing. Under this system, for instance, New York and New Jersey established the Port of New York Authority to regulate transportation systems between the states. An interstate authority regulating boxing might obviate the need for federal regulation and, if adopted by enough states, could prevent suspended managers and fighters from obtaining new licenses simply by moving from the state that suspended them.
Jack Bonomi, assistant counsel to Senator Kefauver's committee investigating boxing's monopolist-racketeers, urged more stringent licensing standards, pointing out that commission regulations do not now adequately define the functions of managers, matchmakers and promoters. He advocated enactment of laws to provide criminal penalties for undercover matchmaking and promoting. Present statutes in some states, he said, are so vague as to be almost unenforceable. Bonomi also suggested the possibility of federal licensing of participants in "interstate" matches—those involving television, movies, closed-circuit TV and radio—the big-money matches the racketeers are interested in. Under such a licensing provision, he said, it would be possible to enlist the facilities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.