Not since Kingfish Levinsky played stooge to the lady who was both his sister and second have fight fans seen the comic like of Hurricane Jackson, who is not so much a hurricane as an annoying little dust devil. Now, by the law of the ring ratings system, Hurricane Jackson stands in the No. 2 spot as challenger to Rocky Marciano. He rose to this high status by defeating tire-waisted Bob Baker, an amiable and feckless man who was, up to the night he drifted into Hurricane's dizzy orbit, the No. 2 man himself. Baker, a weight lifter by trade and natural propensities, got there because he beat Nino Valdes in what the International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, president) ballyhooed as the start of an elimination tournament to find an opponent for Rocky.
Well, now they've got one. The IBC stands hoist by its own canard. Rocky Marciano is a proper champion, worthy of respect, if only by reason of the unrelenting abuse he deals out to opponents, and Archie Moore, who is No. 1 on the challenger list, is a fighter of years and high competence. What then? Are these our honored great to have their noses tweaked by the upstart Hurricane, a parvenu of no higher talent than that of a burlesque comedian with a rhinestone in his putty nose? The chances are that not even the IBC would dare offer such a clownish opera even if Marciano or Moore would consent to the insult and the meager purse it would command.
So, while it seems likely that no noble noses will be pulled, the situation does cry for a stalwart now standing in the wings of the light heavyweight division to stride forth and restore order and dignity to boxing by belting Hurricane Jackson back where he belongs. A match between Floyd Patterson and Jackson would be a service to fist fighting. Television has more than enough comedians.
The situation in the heavyweight division at this moment demands a number of matches to light the way to a meaningful championship bout in June or September. Now that the IBC has conducted an elimination tournament which has eliminated all the contestants, it is morally obligated, if one may say so without snickering, to correct the present unhealthy situation, ripe with strange odors, in the heavyweight division. There are competent fighters around who have not yet had bids to enter the IBC's invitational tournament.
First among contenders is Archie Moore, whose fight with Marciano was one of the most satisfying heavyweight bouts in years. Common justice requires that if anyone is to meet Marciano before the Brockton strongboy decides that unemployment is his permanently fated lot, the contender should be required to eliminate Moore first. And the logical choice for such a task is Patterson.
Not, however, immediately. Patterson needs to be shown to the populace again now that he has put on weight and is ready to work in the heavyweight division. Before meeting either Marciano or Moore he should—and it could be a profitable progression—meet Jackson, Johnny Holman, Willie Pastrano and, if the lad continues to show as well as he has done recently, that up-and-perhaps-coming slugger, Johnny Summerlin of Detroit, who is now only No. 7 but has the look of eagles in his eye.
THE TWO-EDGED SWORD
Matches like these would be hard to arrange—managers, matchmakers and promoters being what they are—but they would provide the fans with heavyweight fare of a richer protein content than has been theirs since the Moore-Marciano fight in September, the last heavyweight meeting of any real consequence. Every time someone investigates boxing, the investigated parties sing an old tune: "There's nothing wrong with boxing that a few good fights wouldn't cure." It is a dandy little saying but it cuts two ways. Those who say it should provide a few good fights.
The Jackson-Baker fight was entertainment on the order of wrestlers performing in a tank filled with herring. It was not a good fight. The Garden crowd (4,300) bought some $12,000 worth of tickets primarily for the fun of seeing Hurricane perform his 'tween-rounds dance, execute his double upper-cut and fluster the staid Mr. Baker with flurries of feather-soft lefts and rights. Mr. Baker wore the puzzled look of a man who finds himself walking constantly into a soggy floor mop. He tried backing away but the floor mop followed relentlessly. In the 10th round he got real mad at the mop and slammed it around. But by then it was too late. It was good low-comedy fun but, to repeat, it was not a good fight and it did nothing to clarify the muddled heavyweight situation.