Floyd Patterson's broken hand and Sugar Ray Robinson's unbroken insistence on his pound of cash drove the outdoor championship fight industry into a depression this autumn. There was no harvest. Still, a lean autumn has made a fat winter. Now both men will fight within two weeks of each other, Patterson against Archie Moore on Nov. 30, Robinson against Gene Fullmer on Dec. 12, Youth vs. Age in both events. It ought to be a feverish fortnight.
The reluctance of Manager Cus D'Amato to expose Patterson to the risks of a "Chicago decision" was broken in part by assurances of a fair shake from persons close to both Governor William G. Stratton of Illinois and Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago. D'Amato was influenced further, and perhaps most of all, by his fighter's insistence that this was no time for intransigence. A few days before the stubbornest manager of them all came to terms with the IBC, Patterson called him aside at his Greenwood Lake, N.Y. training camp.
"Cus," he said, "I want to fight Moore right now. I don't want people going around saying I waited until he was too old."
So D'Amato went into final negotiations with a good hard shove from his proud fighter and with reasonable intimations that, so far as judging is concerned, Patterson will do no worse in Chicago Stadium than he did against Hurricane Jackson in Madison Square Garden, where he won an unaccountably split decision. D'Amato came out of IBC headquarters with an agreement that Patterson and Moore will share equally in the 60% allotted to the fighters, though Moore had been arguing for a 35-25 split. It is perfectly obvious—to Archie—that he is No. 1, and so entitled to the lion's share. On the other hand, it may also have been obvious to Archie that he had better not wait until next June to fight for the championship that has so long eluded him. A fighter of his years must consider that the crest of the hill can be passed at any moment. And so a 5% difference in the fighters' shares turned out to be not insurmountable.
With the Stadium scaled for a gate of $471,000 and expectations of about $200,000 in radio and TV moneys, both men should do well. So should the IBC.
Meanwhile, back at Al Weill's office, a sharp eye discovered canary feathers in the litter on his desk. The man who once had proudly worn the bloodstains of Rocky Marciano on his vest had come up with another heavyweight fighter, a Negro puncher named Solomon McTier.
There is nothing quite so impressive or promising or heartwarming to the greedy as a heavyweight fighter who weighs 201 pounds and has just knocked out an opponent in 54 seconds of the second round. That was what McTier had done to a fellow named Dennis McCann in, of all places, Providence. It was in Providence, you know, that Marciano began his career as a prisoner of Weill's love, and, in the course of seven successive fights there, knocked out all but one opponent in the first round. To Weill, this had the look of a good omen. He is not concerned that McTier is 25 years old. Rocky was 24 when they began their friendship.
McTier, whose home is in Montgomery, Ala., won the international and national Golden Gloves title in Chicago this year, won 30 of 31 amateur fights and 26 of them by knockouts. McCann was his first professional opponent.
Naturally, a man of Weill's wile is not going to be dependent on a single fighter, and so McTier is acquiring stablemates, including three heavyweights. One is Dave Rent, British amateur with an excellent record. Rent's father pleaded eloquently that Weill take charge of his boy's future. Another heavyweight is Claude Chapman, who claims the New England title and will meet Bob Satterfield on Nov. 12. Don Quinn, a Minneapolis amateur, has been working out in New York and may join the Weill stable.
Eddie O'Hare, a Rochester light heavy, is a Weill prospect too, and Jimmy Grow, from Lewiston, Idaho, has aspirations as a lightweight.
In other words, let the Cus D'Amatos and the Charley Johnstons brace themselves. Weill is going in for light workouts, loosening himself up, getting in condition.