Students of boxing will, for the next few months, apply themselves to the TelePrompTer-United Artists movie from which most of the photographs on these six pages were taken. The movie, being shown in theaters around the country, contains some valuable lessons. Analysis of it reveals why Ingemar Johansson was able to take the heavyweight championship from so skilled a fighter as Floyd Patterson without ever being in danger himself. Close study shows that, though the right hand provided the climactic moment of the fight, Ingemar was aided by much more. It shows why Ingemar's style, strange though it may look to Americans, is a most adequate answer to Patterson's peekaboo style. For had Patterson been able to deliver his famous combinations Ingemar might not have had a chance to throw his right or might have been so weakened that it would be ineffective. Or, as Manager Cus D'Amato remarked to Patterson between rounds, "He isn't as easy to hit as he looks, is he?", and as Floyd answered, "He sure isn't."
Patterson, trying for the first two rounds to get within punching range of Johansson, was frustrated by two main considerations: Johansson's speed of foot and his persistent jab. When Patterson finally did, on one occasion, get in tight, he was instantly clinched. Against other elusive fighters Patterson has found it advantageous to try his radical leap and against Johansson he did so twice. But the Swede brushed him off and moved easily away.
To look at the other side of the coin, Patterson's peekaboo defense is not ideal against a straight puncher. Straight punches can be slipped by a sideways movement of the head, and Patterson did slip many jabs. But the slip requires precise timing and so it was a foregone conclusion that at some time during 15 rounds of fighting Patterson would be hit by a straight right. This happened the first time the punch was thrown. (Two previous Johansson rights had been swung and were not straight.) It was not a foregone conclusion that Patterson would be incapacitated by the punch but, as it happened, he was.
Footwork was used by Johansson both to stay away from Patterson's combinations and to stay within punching range when time came for him to throw his promised big right. Thus, in the two pictures above, Patterson, in his typical crouch at left, wants to move in to start one of his famous swift combinations to the body. His left foot is advanced for the charge and his right has lifted to take the next step. But Johansson's fast feet, anticipating him, are already in retreat. In the next picture Johansson has moved well away from the champion's threat, and a disgruntled Patterson has to start his maneuvers all over again.
July 12, 1959
Rear View of similar maneuver shows Patterson again coming in, his left foot advancing. Once more Johansson anticipates the attack and fades backward at last possible moment. Patterson throws a right hand at Johansson's body, but a slight, sideways movement by Johansson (above, right) causes Patterson to miss badly. Johansson also made it difficult for the champion by presenting only his left side as a target, thus greatly reducing the punching area that Patterson could work on. Teased by this perfectly timed retreat, Patterson eventually is forced to try one of his famous leaps (at far right), a maneuver that is ineffective because Johansson easily brushes off the left glove with his right forearm.
A barrier jab bothered Patterson. He could not get past it. In pictures above Patterson tries desperately to get in close because only at short range can he start one of his multi-punch combinations. Johansson's extended left hand keeps him away and extended left foot keeps Ingo close enough to throw right whenever opportunity offers. Whether Patterson is upright as at left, or crouched, as at right, he is effectively blocked by a persistent left glove perpetually stuck in his puzzled face.
Ingo's clinch, used only in second round, was challenger's ultimate strategy to frustrate Patterson's infighting. As soon as Patterson did, on this occasion, manage to slither past the jab, Ingemar threw his arms around him. Note how his left arm hugs Patterson tight about chest while his right elbow clutches and immobilizes Patterson's left glove. An instant later Johansson had twisted away and was once more in his protective sideways stance, left foot out, left glove out, ready to retreat.
The big right (above) scored the first knockdown, the knockdown that told everyone that Johansson was winner and new heavyweight champion. It had been preceded by a left hook which momentarily confused Patterson. As Patterson moved forward, trying to get inside to counter, his head was met by the massive, incredibly fast punch you see above, a punch that drove straight between the upright gloves of the peekaboo defense. Patterson toppled backward for a nine count.
The killer instinct that Johansson displayed once he had his man in trouble is shown clearly on these pages, both in his suddenly changed facial expression and in the unrelenting nature of his attack. It contrasted with picture of a winsome, playful lad he had presented in training. As Patterson rose from the first knockdown he was unconscious. He turned drunkenly and wobbled past Johansson with unseeing eyes. Johansson caught him with a left hook (above, left) that contorted Patterson's features and followed the hook with another right (above, center) to the back of the head. Patterson fell again. He was to fall five times more, and rise four, before Referee Ruby Goldstein wisely signaled the end of the fight. Once, during these intervals between knockdowns, Patterson made a weak attempt at a clinch but Johansson shoved him away with his left glove (above, right) and knocked him down once more. By this time blood was gushing from Patterson's nose and mouth.
Relentless finisher, Johansson gave dazed Patterson no chance to recover. He was driven about ring with a score of lefts and rights, tried gallantly at times to fight back but, stupefied by the first right, never was able even to impede the incessant attack. The viciousness of the assault reminded spectators in Yankee Stadium of the way Johansson had mercilessly pounded Eddie Machen, then No. 1 challenger, to canvas three times in a single round at Goteborg, Sweden, last September. That victory put Johansson into the title-contender spot. This upset made him champion. It ended, at least for 90 days, the championship of Floyd Patterson, and it also ended for a time the contempt in which European heavyweights have so long been held by Americans. Johansson's victory was, in fact, signaled to the world by previous defeats of American heavyweights Zora Folley and Willie Pastrano at the hands of such English heavyweights as Henry Cooper and Brian London.