FOR BOXING: A YEAR OF DECISION Contrary to the popular impression, boxing is not dead. There are stirrings of life in the eight divisions, ranked by SI (below), and promise that in 1965 the sport will head back to rugged good health By Robert H. Boyle View Cover Jan. 04, 1965 Original Layout After almost 20 years, many of them happy and profitable, network television boxing last fall sank into a grave dug mostly by itself. Gone because of the unequal competition with TV were more than 300 small fight clubs, the source of TV's boxing talent. But, by leaving, television paradoxically may have breathed new life into the sport. There are signs that 1965 could be the year when, despite the malodorous run-ins with policemen by leading heavyweight contenders, boxing begins to return to health. "One of the few promoters still running steady is Unsinkable Sam Silverman up in Massachusetts," says Al Braverman, a New York fight manager who has taken to running an art gallery. "But some others are ready to come back. Boxing will boom again as soon as the small clubs open to bring out the talent." Despite the economic pinch—Don Toro Smith, a heavyweight managed by Braverman, is happy to get $60 for six rounds from Unsinkable Sam in New Bedford or Pittsfield—there seems to be little lack of available youngsters. The gyms are glutted. "My gym is full," says Chris Dundee, the Miami promoter. "I have a gym full of boys," says Cus D'Amato in New York, "but they get disgusted because they have no place to fight." Nonetheless, a boy with talent—and a punch—is welcome even now. The main divisions have begun to wear thin with reruns of some of the same old faces, and the champions are mostly artful dodgers, from Cassius Clay, who fortunately is also a puncher, on down through to Carlos Ortiz, the lightweight champion. The day of the mauler and the puncher, the era of the Sonny Listons and Gene Fullmers, the Carmen Basilios and Dick Tigers, appears to be over for the nonce. Clay, the best and most exciting of today's champions, is scheduled to fight Liston in late spring, and he should win again. Liston was in the shape of his life for the postponed fight last November, but now he is beering it up and wrestling with tag teams of Denver police. Liston's odd behavior could make even the World Boxing Association seem a sensible organization—if its own actions were not even more eccentric. The WBA has ruled with no logic whatever that the Ernie Terrell-Eddie Machen fight in Chicago this February will be for the heavyweight title. Terrell should win, but no one, with the exception of his loud manager, Julie Isaacson, will take the championship seriously. The winner of the Terrell-Machen fight is supposed to meet the winner of the George Chuvalo-Floyd Patterson match in Madison Square Garden on February 1. Here may be the first surprise of the year: a number of knowing boxing men pick Chuvalo to win by a knockout. Yet, peculiarly, the consensus is that Terrell would lick Chuvalo, but Patterson would beat Terrell—not that it really matters so long as Cassius is around. Aside from Chuvalo, the most promising "new" heavyweight is posturing, talkative Oscar Bonavena, a Cassius Clay from down Argentina way. He has been impressive, but he has had only eight fights and cannot be classed with name fighters in the division.