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Original Issue

Return of the champ

Floyd Patterson trains for a title defense against Roy Harris at Los Angeles

The heavyweight champion has been training hard and earnestly for several weeks at Kutsher's Country. Club, a pleasant resort in the bosky, borschty Catskills. His diet, which for almost a year has included such delights as venison marinated in port, bolstered by the sweet-potato pies and beaten biscuits of his camp chef, Cecil Williams, now is properly Spartan. From the day Floyd Patterson put aside coq au vin, southern style, for chopped steak it has been fairly clear that he was in training for a serious contest, the first defense of his title since last August, when Pete (The Veep) Rademacher brashly put up his dukes for the championship as an inspiration to the youth of America.

It has been fairly obvious, too, that the defense would be against Roy Harris, who has just returned from the Army to his home in the suburban residential section of Cut and Shoot, Texas. Harris is only No. 3 heavyweight challenger in Fred Saddy's authoritative National Boxing Association ratings, but Eddie Machen, No. 1, and Zora Folley, No. 2, have been eliminated for one reason or another, including the very tiresome draw they fought recently in San Francisco.

That made Harris the obvious challenger of choice, but since no one ever expects Cus D'Amato, the champion's manager, to do the obvious there were rumors that Patterson would fight Rademacher again, or that he would fight Pat McMurtry, especially since McMurtry had been beaten by Willi Besmanoff (loser of seven of his last eight bouts) and that he would, in fact, fight just about anyone but the very obvious Harris.

D'Amato, of course, did the obvious thing, chuckling the while. This week his lawyer was ready to sign for Patterson to meet Harris at Los Angeles on August 4, with Al Weill and the Hollywood Legion Stadium as copromoters. Weill got into the act because he and D'Amato are brothers in a blood feud with the International Boxing Club, a feud that began for Weill shortly after he lost Rocky Marciano to retirement. The IBC, he claims, then snooted his remaining stable. In keeping with the spirit of the feud Jackie Leonard, Legion Stadium matchmaker, was expected to be eliminated from the enterprise because D'Amato holds that Leonard has given aid and comfort to the IBC.

Barring hitches, the fight will be the first of two or three Patterson defenses this year, according to D'Amato, who is sitting on a clutch of offers and will hatch out the most profitable when the Harris matter is disposed of.

A fight for the lightweight championship of the gashouse district will be seen June 27 (Friday-night TV) when Carlos Ortiz, a russet-haired, green-eyed Puerto Rican, takes on his old East Side neighbor, Johnny Busso, at Madison Square Garden. Both are products of the famous Madison Square Boys' Club, which teaches kids to put away switch-blade knives and fight with gloves.

It will be a neighborly affair, except that someone is likely to get hurt. Ed Ferguson, who manages Ortiz, first laid eyes on the lightweight when, at age 13, Ferguson's son Vinnie brought Carlos home as witness that he had been boxing at the Boys' Club and not carousing around. Carlos' wife, Norma, lived next door to Busso when he met her.

The fight is a fine piece of matchmaking, a maiden effort of Jack Barrett, successor to Billy Brown as Garden matchmaker.

Ortiz is a splendid boxer, Busso a good puncher. Busso has lost six of his 40 fights, one by knockout. He has knocked out 15 opponents but generally wears them down.

Ortiz is undefeated in 27 fights but he does have one riotous no-decision contest on his record. He knocked out Lou Filippo after the bell ending the ninth round of their first Hollywood fight—a situation that drew ugly resentment from Filippo's followers. A month later he knocked out Filippo legally for a total of nine kayos.

Ortiz is the slight choice here but it should be an even-money fight.

The Wednesday night (June 25) TV presentation pits Rory Calhoun against Bobby Boyd at Chicago Stadium. Since Rory already has knocked out Boyd, this may be regarded as an effort to improve Calhoun's sorry 1958 record. Calhoun is favored, may score another kayo.


LIGHTWEIGHT Carlos Ortiz first made front-page news with a small boy's tragedy, the traffic death of his dog, now wins sports-page acclaim as a promising young boxer.