Friday, May 12, 2006

Floyd Patterson is Dead...

The heaven's shake.

For better or worse, the late champion was a sort of flight-test for the modern heavyweight fighter. He was fast and light like Muhammed Ali but he also built his rep on punching well above his weight.
Neurotic and given to melancholy he had to be the first boxer whose mental state was a major consideration in all pre-fight commentary. The New Yorker's AJ Libeling devoted reams of copy describing Patterson's eccentric training methods (The champ napped, he napped alot!) and personal worries.
For all his mental agony, Floyd's real problem was he had a classic glass jaw. That prototypical slacker Ingmar Johansson found it in 1959 and practically pounded on Patterson like a ten penny nail.
And yet, neuroses and all, Patterson came back a year later to beat on Johansson like he was an old tin bucket.
Patterson had class...when he wasn't worrying himself into a state of the screaming bedspins.
Alas his 1960 comeback is now completely forgotten in the relentless press of his two humiliating losses to Sonny Liston. A lot of people burdened the champ with expectations that he'd stop Sonny's brutal drive for the championship belt, and alas Floyd just couldn't deliver.
He tried a third time to come back but ah... Muhammed Ali was in the other corner, twelve rounds later it was all over for Floyd.
Still and all that, there was nothing low about him, he kept pushing and striving deperate to live up to his potential, a small man in a business that favors big beefcake he hung in there to the last.
He died of cancer and was suffering from Alzheimers as well. New york State found him a sinecure on the Athletic Commission and in more lucid days he could talk up the sweet science with some enthusiasm.
Ali owed a lot to Patterson's mixture of a middleweight's speed and a heavyweight's stopping power...he'd never admit it, but he does.
And the next time we roll our eyes over Mike Tyson's emotional issues, well, jsut remember Floyd brought a lot of his problems into the ring as well.

G' bye Floyd, say hi to Joe Louis and other departed titans for us willya?

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