It was a most unsatisfactory ending for a championship fight. The pride of two gallant fighters was hurt. Both Champion Floyd Patterson and Challenger Tommy (Hurricane) Jackson felt cheated.
But Referee Ruby Goldstein had seen quite enough of a hapless Jackson absorbing, in round after round, punches that no man should be asked to endure. For all Jackson's vaunted stamina, and it is almost beyond belief, the cumulative effect of the head beating he suffered must, in the end, be of lasting damage.
So, last Monday night, in the 10th round of their second fight, after Jackson had been knocked down three times in the previous nine, after he had bravely returned, round after round, for further cruel punishment, Referee Goldstein stepped between Jackson and Patterson and stopped the fight. The Polo Grounds crowd was stunned.
Floyd Patterson is still champion, though not the happiest who ever held the crown. It was obvious in the very first round that he wanted, more than anything, the satisfaction of a clean knockout, to prove the deadly quality of his fists and to silence critics who have held that he has defeated no one of stature. And that, indeed, a true champion should surely knock out a Jackson.
But Jackson, in his own peculiar way, is a foe worthy of a champion. His resilience is astonishing. From the first round on it was obvious that he had no chance. The bell saved him from a count in that round. He was down again in the second, and up at the count of two. He sagged to the canvas again in the ninth, and this time took a count of four. Each time he bounced back, almost gaily at times.
But on no official card did he win a single round. His feckless fists, pawing the air in awkward gestures, did more harm to midges swarming under the lights than to Patterson, who suffered not a single clean, hard blow.
Patterson was clearly puzzled by a problem he had been unable to solve in their first fight. He wanted to weaken Jackson with body blows, to which he is vulnerable, and thus overcome The Hurricane's ability to take head blows all night. But Jackson fooled him again. He protected his body with his long, flailing arms and a curious, forward-leaning stance. Thus he forced Patterson once more to go to the head, and that is where Tommy Jackson is invulnerable. Blood poured from his nose, his left eye was half closed, his jaw was rocked, especially with rights, and still he came on, crowding Patterson to deprive the champion of punching room. At the end of the ninth round Patterson looked to the heavens in wonderment. Neither he nor anyone in the crowd of 18,101, who came to New York's first independently promoted championship fight in many a year, could understand what permitted Jackson to remain conscious.
In the end, with Patterson swarming over him, Jackson was still on his feet. It seemed that he must go down again, though he was giving no signs of being distressed when Referee Goldstein stopped it.
No fighter in the heavyweight ranks today could have survived as long as Jackson under the terrible barrage Patterson laid down. The forecast now must be for a long string of knockouts in Patterson's future appearances. His next will, of course, be on August 22 at Seattle, where he meets the insolent and opulent amateur, Pete Rademacher. Rademacher would do well to practice ducking.
The fight, held under the threat of rain which did not come, was a moral victory for Eastern Parkway Fights (Emil Lence, president), though it was not one to make them richer. Not since 1949 had any promoter other than the IBC (James D. Norris, president) dared to put on a heavyweight championship.
"We have established a beachhead," Lence said after the fight. "We are here to stay."
The fight served also to restore to boxing the lush oratory of Harry Balogh, author of the deathless "May the better participant emerge victorious." On this night Balogh topped himself. Introducing the fighters, he prayed that "the arm of the outstanding adversary will be raised in token of victory."
Cus D'Amato, Patterson's manager, expressed full satisfaction with Patterson's performance, though he seemed puzzled when Goldstein stopped the fight. So did Patterson. Both wanted a clear KO.
"He was extraordinary," D'Amato said of Jackson. "No one could take the punches he took."
That about summed it up. Next day Tommy Jackson was in a hospital for a urinary condition.