This gaudy and costly piece of cardboard is one of more than 3,000 already sold. It could be a ticket to the launching of boxing's New Era. It will indeed admit the bearer to witness ("live") the fight duly described on its face but, as far as the launching of the New Era is concerned, we say "could be" advisedly.
Let us, like Al Smith, who once said he would just as soon see boxing abolished, look at the record:
Public, press and federal courts get fed up with boxing's dirty business and the James D. Norris-IBC monopoly is finally broken.
Cus D'Amato, fight manager who had singlehandedly fought the monopoly, finds himself in control of boxing's most valuable property—the world's heavyweight championship, won by his tiger, Floyd Patterson, even before the dissolution of the evil monopoly.
Patterson, who had fought his way up through the 1952 Olympic Games, almost certainly is the most skillful fighter to enter the heavyweight division in many years and may even be great, but because of his inactivity during the D'Amato-IBC vendetta, a tantalizing question persists: Is he really a great champion?
Enter Ingemar Johansson, handsome, dashing Swede, undefeated as a professional. Ingo startled the boxing world with a one-round knockout of undefeated Eddie Machen, the American heavyweight then rated No. 1.
Bill Rosensohn, bright young newcomer, becomes promoter of this international fight and, after shrewdly touring the country to examine possible sites, picks Yankee Stadium, as glamour home for the big fight, sets June 25 as the date.
Patterson goes into training, says "I will retain my championship."
Johansson arrives from Sweden with family entourage and says "I will ruin him with my right hand and take the title back to Sweden."
Voil√†! or Skoal! Here are all the ingredients for the kind of fight that could launch boxing's New Era.
So why do we say "could launch" and not "will launch"? We hedge for two reasons:
1) Million-dollar gates never have been achieved by accident. They have resulted from skillfully executed promotions, with the fighters built up to heroic stature in the public mind, their training sessions covered with excitement, an atmosphere of supreme importance built around the fight and the principals. Remember Dempsey vs. Carpentier?
2) Practically all that has happened in the vital stages of this promotion has been a series of public business squabbles between the promoter and the champion's manager and various and assorted lesser parties, none of whom will ever lace on a pair of gloves. The fighters have been all but ignored. There has been no proper buildup for the fight as a fight. As late as last week it was necessary for the manager of the champion to interrupt his dark irrelevancies in order to make a reassuring public announcement that the fight would be held as scheduled.
This has been a very poor promotional start for the New Era. As a fight (meaning that which is to take place in the Yankee Stadium ring June 25) it is a natural, for Johansson will be the first true threat to Patterson's title that the champion has met.
The executive branch of the bout (those blokes aforementioned who will never lace on a glove) must now restore the fight to its true importance. It must desist from public, unprofessional rows and turn to its real job: the achievement of a huge box office success. An artistic success will not be enough to usher in the New Era. Box office success is essential to the excitement of prizefighting. Without it on this occasion one can only conclude that boxing's era of dirty business has merely been replaced temporarily by an era of goofy business.