The artistry of Mickey Crawford with brush and pen (he is a commercial artist) derives, most likely, from something in his genes. As a boxer his artistry is hereditary, too, but it owes a great deal to the advice of his father, Patsy Crawford, an oldtime featherweight. When Mickey started to box his father told him: "Don't get hit and keep your legs in shape."
Today Mickey is ranked fourth among the welterweight contenders and is the most exasperating target a slugger could oppose. He is quicksilver in the ring, so elusive that he once enraged Lightweight Champion Joe Brown in a two-round sparring session. The champion could scarcely lay a glove on Crawford and asked for another two rounds in the hope, according to Crawford admirers, that he could catch up with Mickey and kayo him. He found it impossible.
Gaspar Ortega probably will find it impossible, too, in their July 11 (Friday) TV bout at Madison Square Garden. Neither does Ortega stand in danger, for Crawford is pretty much a punchless fighter, with only three knockout victories on his 24-fight record. He has lost twice, most recently to Ralph Dupas last November.
Ortega's recent record, and ranking, is considerably below that of Crawford, but the Indian boy from Mexicali has been opposing much tougher fighters than Crawford has met. It is, in fact, a quite even match, but since Crawford is a rising star and Ortega's sun seems to be setting the pick here is for Crawford.
That same week on July 9 (Wednesday) the recently mustered-out Harold Carter takes on Nino Valdes in a televised heavyweight match at Spokane. This is a rugged test for Carter, who recently defeated Willi Besmanoff after a 17-month layoff in the Army. Against Besmanoff he looked by no means sharp and was twice rocked by punches of a kind that Valdes would have made knockouts. He won because he is a far better fighter than Besmanoff, but he looked as if he could stand a few more fights to sharpen him up before taking on Valdes. Carter hopes someday to meet Floyd Patterson for the title. A knockout by Valdes would set him far back along that rigorous road. He has, in fact, been knocked out once in his career—by Wayne Bethea in 1954.
Valdes, too, would dearly like to get into the same ring with the champion, and the fact that he has not yet been able to do so rankles his manager, Bobby Gleason, who recently expressed his opinion of the heavyweight division with the humble boast: "My bum is the best bum around."
A Cuban promoter has offered Patterson $300,000 to meet Valdes in Havana, but the offer is not likely to be accepted by Cus D'Amato while Castro rebels are going about kidnaping Americans. D'Amato feels he might have to pay out the $300,000 in ransom.
On a night when his punch is working and his wits are about him, Valdes is a common danger to any opponent, but he goes into strange slumps. Carter's briefer record (he started professional boxing in 1953, Valdes in 1941) is more impressive than the Cuban heavyweight's. He has, for instance, beaten Bob Baker and Bob Satterfield, both of whom beat Valdes in his most disastrous year, 1955, when he lost also to Archie Moore. That loss, Gleason insists, resulted from the effects of the Las Vegas sun on the good judgment of Referee Jimmy Braddock.
Both men have the highest motivation, a possible title shot, in this bout, but one would guess that Carter responds better to such motivations than Valdes. The choice then is for Carter and youth to be served.