The return of Gene Fullmer, who briefly held the middleweight championship, to national attention will be celebrated on television the night of July 30 (a Wednesday) when he meets Franz Szuzina at Madison Square Garden. This might be billed as the Battle of the Bulls, since both men are only a little more deft than dinosaurs. The Garden's china shop will be strewn with busted crockery and the souls of those who regard boxing skill as an offense to the eye will be lifted up.
Fullmer's eclipse, which began with a lovely left hook thrown by Sugar Ray Robinson a year ago last May, has been due partly to his insistence that he was entitled to another title shot just because he thinks he was promised one in a carefully phrased letter from Truman Gibson, IBC president. He has been reduced to fighting such fellows as Milo Savage and Jimmy Hegerle, both of whom he defeated by decision. In neither fight did he look like a onetime champion, according to reports.
Szuzina's distinctions of the year are a couple of losses to Joey Giardello, one of them a formal-dress affair at the Hotel Shoreham in Washington, D.C. (SI, June 9) and a TKO over Johnny Penn. Though he generally loses in classy company, Szuzina is not quite so bad as the record, and he even holds a curious win over the new welterweight champion, Virgil Akins.
This could be a very close fight and a bloody one. A coin toss makes Fullmer the favorite here.
Tony Anthony, the light heavyweight aspiring to the bigger division, has been doing nothing but knocking out his opponents this year, including one TKO over Yvon Durelle, the British Empire light heavyweight champion. Anthony looks likely to score another KO against the long-idle heavyweight, Archie McBride, at Syracuse in a Friday night (August 1) affair. Archie had but two fights in 1957, only one in 1956, none at all this year, and his record in that series is two losses and a win (over Willi Besmanoff).
Boxing investigations are a historical commonplace and many turn out to be no-decision affairs. But for four months, since he turned loose a posse of subpoena servers among the tough upper crust at Madison Square Garden, District Attorney Frank S. Hogan of New York has been giving occasional evidence that his staff is leading on points and that he may yet win a decision which, carried far enough, could revolutionize the managerial and even promotional aspect of the sport. Consequently, prizefighting's swindlers are now a tense and anxious gang, wondering who will be hit next. To their dismay, Hogan has been dropping shoes like a centipede undressing for bed—an indictment here, a subpoena there—and no one knows when he will drop the next one or how many he has left.
So far, an International Boxing Club matchmaker has resigned, a boxing judge and a sometime matchmaker have been indicted, one of the sport's top managers has surrendered his license, and James D. Norris, who quit as IBC president, has consented to accept a subpoena, though with hints that he may not answer it because of his heart condition.
There will almost certainly be more indictments. Another one was revealed last week with the surrender of a man in alligator shoes and a blue-on-blue silk suit, a fellow who has beaten two murder raps and chuckles affably when he recalls that he once was charged with mutiny on the high seas. He could write a book, this fellow. In fact, he has written one, and an agent is trying to peddle the autobiography. For this was none other than Champ Segal, a big fish taken on the rather small bait of a misdemeanor indictment—acting as undercover manager of a fighter.
The Champ, a ruddy-faced, big-shouldered man of 58, whose only conviction in a lifetime association with mobsters drew him a $25 fine for a liquor law violation, pleaded a nonchalant not guilty, posted bail and then retired to his Park Avenue apartment. Some time this fall, one may expect, he will once more stand shoulder to shoulder in a courtroom with an old friend, Frankie Carbo, whom he has known since Murder, Inc. was doing a prosperous business. Carbo has not yet been indicted but he is a prime prospect. It will be like old times then for him and Segal, because they (and Buggsy Siegel and Lepke Buchalter, both now gone to their rewards) were buddy defendants 19 years ago when they were tried for the syndicate murder of Harry (Big Greenie) Greenberg. Naturally, they were not convicted.
Johnny Summerlin, whose career as a fighter ended when SPORTS ILLUSTRATED disclosed (SI, June 16) that he was suffering from hypesthesia (numbness) over his entire left side, sensibly did not resent the disclosure. Instead, he turned to the magazine as to a friend and asked help in finding work. As a result Detroit's Department of Parks and Recreation gave Johnny an appointment patrolling the beach at Belle Isle and a promise that in the fall he will be a boxing instructor. Happy ending.
GENE FULLMER still wants back the title he won from and lost to wily Sugar Ray.