THE SPORTING SCENE
POLO GROUNDS, N.Y., Sept. 24-The members of Rocky Marciano's cabinet own blue satin jackets with this flat assertion printed on the back in large white letters: "Rocky Marciano will never lose a fight."
Now if this is merely the idea of some Brockton sporting goods outfit, all well and good. But if Al Weill and the others who think for Rocky outside the ring really believe this-and intend to see it come true-there are going to be some badly butchered faces before the present heavyweight champion of the world retires undefeated.
Roland La Starza, for one, probably wouldn't argue the point too convincingly. In four rounds (the seventh through tenth) plus one minute and 31 seconds of a fifth, the Brockton strong boy practically punched La Starza's face off, La Starza, having been exposed to a college education, realized the wisdom of permitting referee Ruby Goldstein to step in at that point and call it quits.
Up until the seventh, the crowd seemed to feel that La Starza was doing quite well, that he might conceivably win on points if he lasted fifteen rounds. The excitement mounted as he returned to his corner after the fifth, and again after the sixth having checked the champion's terrible power for yet another round.
In those rounds, Marciano appeared awkward, which he is. It may be his short arms that give him this uncoordinated look. Marciano edges into an opponent like an old man wading into ice cold surf. He lunges at his man and he misses often. Once the force of his own swing made him slip to the canvas.
But in another sense Rocky's arms are an advantage. They mean that his most effective blows are necessarily short ones; an opponent thus absorbs the maximum punishment from them. La Starza did land several good punches, although his style at the start of the fight was designed more to contain Marciano than to mount an offense of his own. He was succeeding admirably until the seventh. After that there was no style at all, just guts.
Even when La Starza did connect with the champ, his blows seemed to have no effect. One punch snapped Marciano's head back, but it was as if the challenger had playfully cuffed a big old dog. At the end, Marciano was not bruised at all, and not much more tired than when the fight started. He trotted across the ring to a neutral corner after belting La Starza through the ropes.
Marciano is not a stylist. He is clumsy, except when it actually comes to knocking a man out. Then he attacks with a ferocity and sureness which have caused many of the experts to label him the fluest one-punch boxer of our time. The man who beats him must be able to held Marciano, as La Starza did for six rounds, and carry a pretty fair one-punch convincer himself. Gosh, may be there's something in those satin jackets after all.