The most ruggedlyhandsome face to arrive in the United States last week was the one surmountingthe tab collar at right. It belongs to Ingemar Johansson, the dashing Europeanheavyweight champion and the incontrovertible No. 1 challenger to FloydPatterson's title, an eminence Johansson achieved by knocking out Eddie Machenin one round at Gothenburg, Sweden last September.
Johansson'sjourney from Sweden to New York was kept an elaborate secret from the press,and his movements on arrival were also carefully cloaked. Actually, he washustled up to a rural retreat in the lower Hudson Valley. There he spent lastweekend closeted with Cus D'Amato, Patterson's manager, a man with a fine oldhabit of keeping his own counsel and a fine old flair for Renaissance-typesecurity.
Also at theweekend gathering were Edwin Ahlquist, Johansson's adviser who, in the spiritof the script, arrived in New York on a different flight from Johansson's, andEinar Thulin, a New York correspondent for a Swedish newspaper who is D'Amato'sconfidant and aide in Swedish relations.
The purpose oftheir meeting was to hold "preliminary talks" for a Patterson-Johanssonfight somewhere in the U.S. this spring—a fight which could easily gross amillion, even two million dollars, a fight which promises to rouse theheavyweight division from its moribund condition.
Johansson is anideal rouser. He is handsome to a fare-thee-well and certainly the mostattractive imported prizefighter since Georges Carpentier. He whizzes about theSwedish countryside in a racy sports car, plays passable golf, flies and has aquiet enthusiasm for modern poetry. All this, too, sounds a little likeCarpentier (The Orchid Man was his tag in the Golden Twenties). But Ingemar, afull-fledged heavyweight, can hit harder than Georges ever could.
Fighting goodlooks of the European champion should make him most attractive foreignheavyweight since France's Georges Carpentier in the '20s.