Paul: Though I don’t know that we’ve ever talked about him, somehow I sensed you with your perfect command of the fight game would find time to pay tribute to Floyd Patterson, whom I remember from before you were born. In fact, the gentlemanly Patterson was a perfect complement to many classy sportsmen of the time, whether it was Frank Gifford or Jerry West or Elgin Baylor or Oscar Robertson or Sandy Koufax. He was the first heavyweight champion I remember, one one automatically took to — which is why the pummeling Ingemar Johansson gave him was horrible to watch (I saw the worst of it on a newsreel at the Airport Drive-In Theater in Goleta, California, where my parents often took my sister and me to a night at the movies inside our ’50 Studebaker), just as his glorious KO of Johansson in their rematch was one of the great moments of my early sporting life, proof positive that good guys could prevail.
Alas, I never understood those later two first round knockouts at the hands of Sonny Liston — who even more inexplicably would be done in similar fashion in his second fight against Muhammad Ali, having lasted no more than six rounds in their first fight. Speaking of Ali, of course, it was his beastial treatment of Patterson in their infamous showdown of 1965 that would forever tell us all we needed to know about the man who no longer wanted to be Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.
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