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Floyd Patterson - 1935 - "A Special One"
By George J. Elsasser (June 25, 2004) 
Floyd Patterson
You’re Floyd Patterson, born January of 1935, and somewhere along the line you swapped Waco, NC for Brooklyn, USA - and one day you followed Rocky Marciano among the lineage of heavyweight champions.

Your amateur career glitters … New York Golden Gloves … and then, at age 17, it’s Olympic Gold at middleweight in the 1952 Helsinki games … a first round knockout of Romania’s Vasile Tita.

You’re Floyd Patterson, and immediately after you turn pro under the wily and protective Cus D’Amato, you run a winning string of 13 with eight via knockout, and then a test.

The date June 7, 1954, the site Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway Arena. Opponent former light heavy champ Joey Maxim coming off back to back losses to Archie Moore. Goes the full eight rounds, with Maxim getting the win.

You’re Floyd Patterson, and you quickly rebound, another streak, seventeen with 13 by KO, and now it’s Archie Moore for the vacant heavyweight title.

You’re too young and quick for the ancient warrior with the "Old Mongoose" sobriquet, and the D’Amato taught peek-a-boo stance, with the gazelle-like springing offense sees Moore falling in five - and the world has a young 21 year old heavyweight champion.

You breeze through the opposition with wins over Tommy "Hurricane" Jackson, Pete Rademacher, Roy Harris and Brian London, and now it’s June 26, 1959 and a date with Ingemar Johansson.

But there are whispers, and grumbling over the D’Amato selections. The print media uses its dislike of Cus to shoot darts at your credibility, and they shout it should be Machen or Folley getting the title shot instead of the Swede.

And then a shocker … You chase Ingo from pillar to post over the opening two candles, you become frustrated and careless during the hunt, and stanza three sees the Swede with a counter right hand bomb that lands between the eyes.

You’re down and out for all practicable purposes but somehow beat the count. You’re Floyd Patterson, seen wandering about the ring in a fog - and awkward punches are landing and you go down some six subsequent times before it’s stopped.

The poets of the print media have a field day, and suddenly the guy they first saw as undeserving is now something special … and with a right hand second to none.

You’re Floyd Patterson and you have a return clause in the contract. You reclaim the bauble by KO4 in 1960 with a monster left-hook that has Ingo in la-la land before he lands flat on the canvas, the legs quiver as he sleeps, and it’s scary for a bit.

Now it’s 1961, and you retain the crown once again over Johansson, by KO 6, and again the media finger pointing.

You’re Floyd Patterson, and you’ve heard enough, and immediately after dispatching challenger Tom McNeeley in four candles on December of 1961, you began calling the shots, and next up, Charles "Sonny" Liston on September 25, 1962.

The rest is history. Wrong style, wrong opponent... Recall watching the first meeting via closed circuit at Flatbush (Brooklyn) movie house, and any question of Floyd’s courage was answered at the opening bell.

The Patterson advantages of hand speed and quickness were nullified as he rushed into the waiting power puncher Liston - KO 1 - A return the following year on July 22, 1963 was a replay of first meeting and another KO 1.

Floyd continued on, and as if to prove a point to the media, met most of what was the best out there. Wins over Eddie Machen, Charlie Powell, George Chuvalo, Charlie Green, Henry Cooper and Oscar Bonavena, coupled with losses to Ali, Quarry and Ellis.

The soft spoken and proud Patterson finished his pugilistic tenure sporting a 64 bout career with 55 wins, 40 by KO, 1 draw, and 8 losses.

Those that missed seeing the Patterson express, missed seeing an original work of pugilistic art. All business sans frills, hype, trash talk etc., and has earned his 1976 induction to the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Truly a special one.

Illness has kept him from the public eye since retiring from position with NY State Athletic Commission.

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