Few oldtime fight managers can look at a young heavyweight without experiencing an unsettling sense of despondency; if hope suggests a dozen reasons for believing the tyro will become a walking gold mine, experience supplies 100 for suspecting he will not. Apprentice pugs are constantly the prey of their own doubts and fears; both their confidence and their reputations must be built as carefully as a pousse-café and can be destroyed by one damaging fight. Even if the aspirant has a reckless appetite for brawling, he may never get past the seventh grade of his education for the ring, or may be kayoed by the Demon Rum. Nonetheless, it is now as clear as anything can be in the future books of boxing that a lithe young Brooklyn Negro named Floyd Patterson—who celebrated his 21st birthday this month by challenging Rocky Marciano—will be the next heavyweight champion of the world.
This does not mean that Patterson—who was the boxing star of the 1952 Olympic Games at the tender age of 17—can be expected to demolish Marciano this week or the week after. In The Ring's year-end ratings for 1955, in fact, Patterson is not even listed among the heavyweights (although he is considered the No. 1 challenger for the light heavyweight crown). His own handlers, until recently, have been tormented by the ghastly suspicion that he might quit growing before he weighed 175 pounds, and might thus be stranded forever just out of reach of big gates and big money. But despite this and despite his youth, Patterson could very well end up facing Marciano in the ring before 1956 is out and, in doing so, could inspire one of the biggest gates of modern times.
He has, in the last few months, demonstrated a heartening tendency to keep on getting bigger. He weighed 178½ pounds, trained fine, in December, and was nudging 180 pounds last week—only five pounds short of the weight at which big men are classically considered at their most efficient. He has always been an exciting fighter and one with rare natural talent. But he has also shown an awesome capacity for improvement—in nine fights last year, all won by knockouts or technical knockouts, he proved himself an increasingly finished and balanced technician in the ring. In his last bout he so outclassed the fifth-ranking heavyweight, Jimmy Slade (now reduced to ninth place as a result), that the referee stopped the chase in the seventh round.
In the opinion of the Brooklyn matchmaker Teddy Brenner and the veteran promoter Ray Arcel, Patterson today is the "best young fighter of any weight in the world" and both believe he will outclass all other leading heavyweights within the year—that his speed and reflexes will be too much for seasoned contenders like Ezzard Charles, Tommy (Hurricane) Jackson, Nino Valdes, Bob Baker and Bob Satterfield, and that he already is much more than a match for New Orleans' Willie Pastrano, Philadelphia's Joey Rowan, Detroit's Chuck Spieser and other relative newcomers.
But what would be Patterson's fate if circumstance pushed him into combat with the champion as early as next September—or, for that matter, even with Archie Moore?
Patterson's manager, white-haired Constantine (Cus) D'Amato, a shrewd and cautious man, has a tremendous respect for the Marciano bludgeoning power. But D'Amato firmly believes that by next fall a 21-year-old Patterson would be too much for a 33-year-old Marciano or a 40-year-old Moore. Patterson's trainer, an oldtimer named Dan Florio, who maintains a cynical detachment about fighters for all his pedagogical attachments to them, puts it more bluntly. "It'd be no contest," he says. "Patterson is just too fast. I've trained lots of old guys. I trained Joe Walcott. They get tired, and if you get tired in there against Patterson, then God help you. I'd hate to be the guy. A year, he'll be ready for anybody. I've trained 500-600 fighters and I've never seen anything like this boy."
This sort of rash soothsaying has a good deal of foundation in present performance. At 21, Patterson is known as a "fellow who will leave you for dead." He is a good-looking six-footer with lean hips, long arms and broad shoulders powered by slabs of smooth muscle. There is still a gangling, faintly schoolboyish air about him, but he fights with the expressionless eye and violent gracefulness of a large cat hunting its dinner. He is a rarity—a good boxer with a knockout in either fist and an instinct for pressing his man. He has lightning reflexes, fast hands and can punch in bewildering combinations. He is hard to hit, but he has been clobbered, upstairs and down, without losing his poise or aggressiveness. He has never been knocked out. He has lost one professional fight; that, however, was a debatable eight-round decision to wily old Joey Maxim, the ex-light heavyweight champion, with whom he was matched at 19. "He can belt good," says Joey, "and he had my tail dragging after the fourth round."
Fighters, like most other athletes, do not reach their peak of physical efficiency until they are mature, grown men (an Irish fighter, according to ring legend, may not develop fully until 25, 26 or even 27—Latins and Negroes are generally expected to mature at around 23). But fighters should also start young, and Patterson already has a veteran's poise. He began fighting at 15, had 44 amateur fights (38 of them won by knockouts) and since then has easily beaten top middleweights, top light heavyweights and main-event heavyweights. He suffers from nervousness before a fight, but is able to fall asleep while waiting in the dressing room, a trick of relaxation few boxers have ever achieved (among the few: Gene Tunney and Joe Louis). The idea of losing does not seem to occur to him. "The other guy always looks big when we weigh in," he says, "but it's funny—he always seems smaller than me when I see him in the ring."
As a main-event fighter of note and (ah, glorious distinction) a contender for the heavyweight championship, Patterson lives at present in a curious state of suspension—not unlike a man cautiously savoring the rigors and surprises of Space Platform One while preparing for a trip to the moon. The platform, at the moment, is a lackadaisically furnished bachelor den in Brooklyn's rugged Bedford-Stuyvesant section, just a few hazy dreams away from riches and world fame, and just a few blocks from a crumbling Old Law tenement where his father, a hard-working garbage truck driver, and his mother live with nine of their 11 children. Patterson is basically a shy and sensitive youth; he is shrewd and knowing about the ring and the mores of the slums, but he sometimes reveals a grave and boyish innocence about the big outside world into which growing fame is projecting him. Pending that great day when he supposes the transition will be complete, Floyd keeps to himself.
"I don't have many acquaintances," he says. "You get an acquaintance and, the first thing, they start doing things for you—favors for you—and the next thing they want to borrow." For companionship Patterson relies heavily upon a 24-year-old uncle named Charley Johnson. Patterson gets up at six each morning, drives with Uncle Charley to Brooklyn's Prospect Park where—heavily encased in long underwear, overalls, heavy Army shoes, sweatshirt and hood—he runs from two to five miles. He goes back to his room, drinks a cup of tea and sleeps until midday. He goes to a movie and then to Manhattan to work out in Manager D'Amato's grimy gym.
THE QUIET ONE
On Saturday night he occasionally invites Sandra Hicks—an 18-year-old Brooklyn high school senior whom he has known for years—to the movies. When asked how he met Sandra he says proudly: "We were introduced." He is a Roman Catholic convert, and on Sunday morning he usually goes to late Mass. But he spends most evenings holed up in his apartment. He seldom visits Madison Square Garden to watch fights, even though he can get in for nothing. "The crowd throws you off," he says. "You keep looking around. I'd rather watch them here on television; this way I'm by myself and I can learn something." Patterson has a motion picture projector and he runs and reruns kinescopes of his televised fights; sometimes, in search of his own mistakes, he stops the reel and examines it frame by frame in a film splicer. He often wanders back to his mother's kitchen. He dislikes steak, supposedly the only trustworthy protein for athletes, and his mother feeds him large quantities of pork chops and "yam potatoes"—a diet Manager D'Amato has moodily approved on the theory that Patterson has digestive juices capable of anything and must be constantly stoked, no matter what the fuel, in the awful struggle for more poundage. He goes to bed early. "Floyd," says D'Amato approvingly, "is a fellow who sleeps a lot."
Patterson's life, however, is not all training and self-communion. He grossed $25,000 last year and about as much so far this year. Expenses, his manager's cut, his trainer's fees and taxes take a big bite out of these earnings, but for a 21-year-old he nevertheless enjoys a heady solvency. He contributes heavily to the support of his family. He is a youth with a secret inclination toward dudishness; he cultivates sideburns and treats himself to good clothes. He owns a small monkey named Connie—a lively beast which he has stationed at Sandra's home, where it runs up and down the curtains, takes the telephone off its cradle, turns on the family television set and, if not restrained, dabs itself with lipstick. He drives a cream-colored 1956 Cadillac Eldorado hardtop (a Caddy is standard equipment for all but the most impecunious main-event fighters, and this one is Floyd's third) and occasionally guides it to Manhattan to attend a rock-and-roll session at Harlem's Apollo Theater—the manager not only welcomes him joyously and gives him seats on the house but introduces the pleased, if bashful gladiator to the crowd (which cheers vociferously) during the intermission.
UP FROM THE ASPHALT JUNGLE
Patterson, for all his natural talent, has not reached this Dauphin-like estate without a struggle. His case, in fact, dramatically illustrates the pitfalls and difficulties which must be skirted and overcome in bringing any boxer within range of a championship. It also illustrates the fact that professional boxing, for all its seamy background, its haremlike jealousies and its pitiful human flotsam, can be a power for good in shaping the character of young males—not all of whom are born for the ministry, atomic science or Wall Street. Boxing and the long-maligned New York public school system, in fact, converted Patterson from a troubled boy who seemed hellbent for jail into an eminently stable young man with that proprietary regard for order which seems to come naturally to any leading citizen.
As a boy in the asphalt jungle, Patterson was a lonely, disturbed and defiant being—the third in a family of 11 children, whom his parents, for all their toil, could barely feed. "Broke into store with gang..." old school-system reports on him note. "Runs away from home...truant...." He was not a stupid boy—his IQ was average—but he virtually refused to talk. He also refused to learn—at 12 he could not read. School only increased his sense of being rejected and he fought against it, just as he fought on the sidewalks and escaped at every opportunity. "I liked Coney Island," he recalls. "I liked to watch people going on the rides. And the Sheffield Farms kept their trucks across from P.S. 93. They left the keys in them. I used to sneak out and start them up. I'd run them ahead a little and back them up a little. Once," he adds with a faint grin, "I drove one home. Seven blocks. Had to. The man was chasing me."
Patterson's mother, a woman of force and character, decided on a drastic cure. "I acted real quick," she says. "The twig is bent early." She had Floyd committed to the Wiltwyck School, an institution for problem children in the country near Esopus, N.Y. The boy was shipped away, sullen as a trapped wolf. "I thought they were going to have bars on all the windows and keep me in jail." But Wiltwyck let him roam the woods and gave him kindness and understanding. He came back to New York after two years, was enrolled in P.S. 614, a city grammar school for backward boys on Manhattan's grimy, noisy lower East Side, and blossomed into a star pupil and the school hero. P.S. 614 still plays a big part in Floyd Patterson's life: he telephones his former teachers regularly, makes a pilgrimage back to the school in the afternoon before every New York fight and has presented it with a big silver loving cup which is annually awarded to the pupil who excels in sportsmanship.
Cus D'Amato's Gramercy Gymnasium & Health Club (pronounced Gramacy on the East Side and so spelled by the forgotten painter who put the name on the door) is just a few blocks from P.S. 614—Patterson was still a pupil there when he first climbed the long, dim stairway up from 14th Street, passed the two garbage cans on the landing, walked through a scabrous hall and entered the dingy and barnlike gymnasium.
The Gramercy Gym, at first glance, might well stir a reformer's ire. There is a hole in the entrance door, patched by chicken netting, and when the gym is locked a vicious dog peers through, growling horribly at all callers. Only four people—D'Amato, two trainers and Patterson—are privileged to "know the dog" and the place cannot be entered until one of them arrives and ties the beast up in a back room. The space inside is bare except for a ring, two heavy bags, a light bag, a shelf with an opened jar of vaseline, a rubbing table, some cracked mirrors (for shadow boxing) a few folding chairs, a shower and some steel lockers. The grimy windows are kept tightly closed, the air is close and hot and the stench of sweat overpowering. To the police of the 13th Precinct, however, the gym is an oasis in a gritty wilderness—young hoodlums who become fighters attain a dignity which usually keeps them out of trouble.
To Floyd Patterson, as to many another slum boy, the prize ring seemed the only avenue of escape to a better world. His uncle, Charley Brown, was a fighter. His oldest brother, Billy (now retired with a detached retina—and a bitter man), was a middleweight with a tremendous punch. His second brother, Frank, was an amateur heavyweight. Floyd climbed the stairs almost as a matter of course. He was told the rules which have applied at the gym for almost 20 years. "I let any boy come in here and train," says D'Amato. "It costs them nothing. We teach them. They don't have to fight. But if they do, then they're my fighters. I'm like a prospector and here is where I look for gold—for a fellow like Floyd.
"Let me tell you about these boys. Maybe a boy has the stomach for fighting but he's scared when he climbs those stairs. He's scared when he gets into the ring too—nobody can get into a ring the first time with another man across from him and not be scared. The boy knows he is scared, but he thinks the other fighter is not afraid and so he believes the other fighter is made of different flesh. I tell these boys all that. I tell them that fear is useful—fear gives a deer extra strength to escape a hunter. But the fighter must not run. He must learn to control his emotions and he must go forward—attack. He must be a soldier and obey his manager's orders no matter how dangerous they are. I'll tell you where a fighter gets tired—in his head, in his brain. The thing that makes him tired is fear. A fighter is always tired when he has been hit hard; he cannot admit to himself that he is afraid and so he tells himself he is tired. But if he begins hitting the other fellow he gets a resurgence of strength. He is not tired any more. So he must know himself, control himself.
"There are five places you can be hurt in the ring. On each side of the jaw, in the pit of the stomach—the solar plexus—and the liver, here on each side just above your belt. The worst is the liver; the pain is excruciating. The next worst is the solar plexus; the diaphragm is paralyzed and you cannot breathe. I remember when I was first hit in the solar plexus I thought I was dying. It sounds funny but I could not breathe any more and I could see matches burning in the dark outside the ring where everyone was lighting cigarettes and it looked like funeral candles. But I kept circling and finally I got a little breath and after that I was not afraid when I got hit there. A fighter learns to be hit. The easiest place is the jaw—it does not really hurt; it is more of a shock.
"I tell boys all this—just like I told Floyd. They must have confidence, and I show them how to avoid being hit in these places. A fighter must keep his hands high. He must keep the right hand near his chin and his elbow down where it can guard his body. He must keep his chin behind the left shoulder and the head tilted a little so blows will glance off his temple. Now he is guarded from punches on either side. For the jab he must learn to duck, to slip. This sounds simple—it is simple, but it is not simple to do under pressure and some fighters never learn. But I first teach the posture of defense. Then I teach a boy to fight out of the posture of defense."
Floyd Patterson, who was a tall, skinny welterweight at 15, had hardly begun to acquire all these necessary reflexes—in fact he had hardly learned to do anything but keep his hands up near his face in moments of peril—when he made a tremendously invigorating discovery. He had his first fight as a subnovice in the Golden Gloves. He was sick with nervousness when he climbed into the ring but after less than a round of wild flailing he knocked out a sailor whose name he has forgotten but whose weight (147) he still recalls. "I was surprised," he says. "I hit him and he fell down. I thought it was a lot harder to knock somebody out. I used to see lots of shoot-'em-up movies and those cowboys used to hit each other with their fists and break chairs over each other's heads and fall over the table and never seemed to get hurt. But it was easy."
This made him a more difficult student—"It's awful," says D'Amato, "trying to convince a fighter he has made a mistake if he does not get hit doing it"—but it gave him a sudden feeling that the world was his to conquer. It also taught him that the other fellow seldom hits you while you are hitting him. He lost three amateur fights in the months that followed, but he learned: "This fellow had me on the ropes and he was hitting me and the lights started to go dim and I couldn't hear the crowd any more. Then I remembered that if a fellow's hitting you in the head you must throw a flurry to his belly. I did and he backed up and I knocked him out." After two years and two score of fights Patterson found himself at Helsinki, Finland, wearing the blue blazer of the U.S. Olympic team.
"I didn't know what to expect," he says. "But when we went into the Olympic Village the Russian boxing team was all lined up, standing in their blue sweatshirts. They had an instructor standing in front of them. He would holler an order and throw a jab at the air. Then they would all jab. He'd throw a right. They'd all throw a right. After that I didn't worry, except the sun stayed up so long I couldn't sleep good." Patterson, who now weighed 160 pounds, fought as a "heavy" middleweight (there are two Olympic middleweight divisions, one with a limit of 156 pounds, another with a limit of 165). One boxer, a Frenchman of excessive caution, stayed upright for three rounds, but he all but decapitated a Rumanian, a Dutchman and a Russian. He was fully as sensational when he mounted a dais to receive the victory award—he put one hand on his stomach, the other against his back, and gave the crowd a deep dancing-school bow.
A few days later, back in New York, he turned professional and was sent to Trainer Dan Florio at Stillman's Gym for advanced instruction. "He had to learn everything," says Florio. "His stance. He fought with his legs too far apart. He hopped around all the time. He'd jump like a kangaroo and throw a right. He didn't keep his hands up. But he was born to fight and he could punch and he was strong as a horse. He was easy to train." Few present-day fighters have been brought along as shrewdly and cautiously as Patterson. "I never let him fight anybody at first that one of my other fighters hadn't tried out," says D'Amato. "I had to know the opponent's ceiling of performance.
"You must take a young fighter from peak to peak. First four-rounders. Then sixes. You must test him and then wean him and give him something harder and then wean him again. Some fighters slip back on you. Put them in fours and they're fine. Put them in a six and they fall apart on you and you must start all over again. But Floyd never slipped back. It was hard getting fights for him. When he came back from Europe people said, 'You'll never get anywhere with that boy.' They meant he was too tough. He'd knock you out with either hand. Would you put your young fighter in with him? But I kept calling him a light heavyweight and that way we got middleweights. He looked big; they thought he'd be weak at 160 pounds, but he could make it easy."
THE OBSTACLE COURSE
"I also made a deal with Emil Lence at a clambake over in Jersey. Emil Lence is a dress manufacturer, and he promoted Eastern Parkway Arena in Brooklyn. I told Emil I could make him the biggest man in boxing. I said Mike Jacobs got there because he had Joe Louis and he rose with the fighter. 'I have such a fighter', I told him. Naturally he was interested. We fought for Eastern Parkway until they lost their television contract and closed up and so we got dates there and I got the right to pick the opponent. Even so I was careful, very careful. Some matchmakers, after a fighter has won four or five times, want to put him in against a fighter who will beat him. Destroy him! Not because the matchmaker is vicious, but because it is his business to make exciting fights. I turned down many opponents for Floyd when he was coming up; but I also had to pick some very tough opponents—tough for his stage of development at the time—that I believed he could beat. A fighter must surmount obstacles, he must reach peaks or he will never grow. I made some mistakes too—but Floyd saved me."
In the three years and four months of his professional career Patterson has fought a good share of "name" fighters. But the two fights he considers his hardest, the two he thinks of as milestones, were against relative mediocrities—Dick Wagner, a crude, hardhitting light heavyweight from Toppenish, Wash., and Esau Ferdinand, a rough 175-pounder from California.
"Dick Wagner hurt me," he says. "I'd only been a pro seven months then. He could punch. He hit me in the body, hit me in the body. Every round he hit me in the body. I kept thinking he would switch to the head, I kept waiting for him to bring them up. But he never did. They say, 'Beat the body and the head must die.' I guess that's what he was thinking. Fourth round, he got me in a corner and beat me. I could hear people hollering, 'He's out on his feet!' I thought I was—I learned then not to listen to the crowd. When I came back to the corner Cus just said: 'If you're going to be the champion go out there and fight like a champion.' I got the decision, but I couldn't eat for three days—just a little soup.
"Esau Ferdinand was different. He walked out in the first round and hit me in the eye with a left hook. I couldn't see for a minute, so I went close to him. I didn't want him to know. But I couldn't do anything with him. He bullied me in the clinches. Kept on bullying me in the clinches all through the fight. He'd get me close and hit me and say nasty things to me. I was a boxer up until then. I couldn't fight inside. He'd say, 'Why don't you punch me, why don't you punch me?' I got the decision, but the next morning I went to the gym and I started trying to learn to fight inside—get my feet on the floor and slug."
Patterson fought return engagements with both Wagner and Ferdinand. Wagner was so badly damaged after the second fight that he retired from the ring. Ferdinand was battered too—Patterson fought him close and inside all the way. "Box him, box him," groaned D'Amato. "Want to beat him his way," said Patterson. "He didn't say anything to me in the second fight," says Patterson, somberly. "In the tenth round I said something to him. I said, 'Why don't you punch me?' He didn't say anything. Then I knocked him out."
Patterson does not consider his losing battle with Joey Maxim a hard one. In fact, he still grows indignant at the decision. "He's the only fighter that never hurt me once." But at the same time he is still full of respect for the ex-champion; he has run and rerun the kinescope of the Maxim fight so often that the film is faded and worn. "Every time I look at it I see him doing something to me I didn't know about," he says. "Look at the dinky little jab. You can't feel it. Now look at his head. He carries it wrong. That head is up there looking around all the time, looking around all the time. Looks as though you could knock it right off his shoulders. But now watch—see he pushes me off balance with the jab. Touches me. I can't hit him.
"Look at me struggling in the clinches," he cries in horror. "Watch Maxim. Look at him layin' on me. I'm struggling and he's resting. He can do that to you seven different ways. Look at me go under the jab. Got my left a foot from his belly. But I don't hit him. Too busy hopping around. I don't do that any more. But now I'm hitting him. He takes a good punch, but I'm hitting him. I should have won that fight."
To salve his soul after watching the Maxim film he runs the kinescope of his fight with Don Grant, a fast and able young light heavyweight from Los Angeles who many believed could beat him. "He should have boxed me," he says. "He was fast. But they sent him out to fight inside and he didn't know how. It shows you shouldn't plan your fight before you start fighting. I was going to box him, but when he started fighting inside I did too—if I hadn't he would have been the aggressor. See—he's holding his arms crosswise, trying to be like Archie Moore. So I just went over and under and I punched faster than he did." The Grant fight, held only seven months after he fought Maxim, was a revelation; in that short time Patterson had refined and simplified his style, stopped his wasteful bobbing and jumping and turned himself into a terrifyingly efficient instrument of attack. Grant ended up sitting on the canvas with his back against a ringpost in the fifth round, a wrecked and senseless man. He was, in a sense, a sort of ceremonial sacrifice; the fight dramatized Patterson's present estate as a main-event light heavyweight who can fight a great percentage of the men in both upper divisions "for breakfast, lunch and dinner."
For any fighter, however, the road to the championship is bordered by quicksand. A fighter like Patterson is enough to make boxing's gang-gray eminence, Frankie Carbo, lick his chops in anticipation. "No tough guys have a piece of Floyd," says D'Amato fiercely, "and I'll carry a pistol before they do." Neither has D'Amato gone "exclusive" with Jim Norris' IBC. "I'm a free agent. But I can't get fights in the Garden. We don't get on television. We fight out of town."
But Patterson is not without wildly enthusiastic backers. Cus D'Amato is a friend as well as a manager. "Floyd is going to be the heavyweight champion," he says firmly, "and he must be a credit to boxing and himself. I do everything I can to help him get ready for that. Floyd is learning—he went to a lunch with the Mayor of New York a few weeks ago and I was proud of him. I try to make him independent of me. He decides how much work to do now, when he is training, and I accept his ideas about how to fight, unless I know he is absolutely wrong. Floyd is usually right. He must learn to live his own life." A wealthy operator of Bronx gas stations, Mike DeGregorio, is among Patterson's friends; so is Charles Schwefel, owner of Manhattan's dignified Gramercy Park Hotel.
Schwefel, a hearty, robust, gray-haired man with a lively interest in politics, was instrumental in setting up New York's "600 schools" for backward boys. He was so impressed by Patterson's record at P.S. 614 that he all but adopted him, and has been his self-appointed guardian angel ever since. "I investigated Cus D'Amato up one side and down the other when Floyd started fighting," he says. "After Floyd had his first professional fight I got him down here at the hotel and put three $100 bills on my desk. That's what he had earned. I said, 'Floyd, that looks like lots of money but it isn't. I want you to go to work here at the hotel in between fights.' He did until he made enough money fighting to live right and help his family." Schwefel now employs Patterson's sparring partners to be sure they can afford to be present when needed: he made sure that the borough presidents of both Brooklyn and Manhattan attended Floyd's 21st birthday party with telecasters, sportswriters and assorted promoters, priests and lesser politicos. "There is going to be another heavyweight champion from New York pretty soon," he says, "if I have anything to do with it."
"THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY"
To Floyd Patterson, at the moment, the future seems faintly hazy but delightful. He hopes to buy his father and mother a house in the suburbs and to get his younger brothers and sisters out of the slums; he also hopes to make a million dollars and buy a farm. "I want to raise horses," he says. "I'd like to have a farm and animals."
But before him stands the bulky figure of Rocky Marciano. "I've thought of how I would fight him," he says. "He looks sloppy in the ring. But he is a good fighter, a real good fighter. There are lots of ways you could fight him. I could make him miss—but Joe Walcott made him miss for almost 13 rounds. I think there is only one way. They say Marciano is the fighter who can't be hurt. But if you want to beat him you have to fight him and make him back up. I think of Rocky Marciano a lot." He smiled, faintly. "Maybe," he said, "Rocky Marciano thinks of me."