Spinning faces and cobweb darkness are all that the fighter, his head twisting from a blow or bobbing on a shoulder, sees. The between-rounds nonsense of cheesecake and placards is not for him, though his eye catches a pretty face, the glint of a bracelet, the layers of drifting smoke. The real world of the fighter is here in the ring's yellow light—the pain and aloneness visible in Leotis Martin (right) and the others on these pages, whose private battles in the WBA tournament were seen—but not seen—by thousands

A brooding figure, Floyd Patterson (above) was fighting from memory under the lights in this ring. His moves were able but were no match for bad officiating. Emotionally and physically drained, Jerry Quarry (right) seemed to be pondering the price of victory.

The corner is a frantic place, a speeding 60-second film. Hands move quickly, over a cut, across a chest. The fighter listens. Oscar Bonavena (left) and Thad Spencer (below) never listened enough, thus losing a sweet moment that belongs to Jimmy Ellis (right).