Cassius Clay could not floor, stagger, seriously hurt challenger George Chuvalo in Toronto last night, but the heavyweight champion jabbed his way to a unanimous 15-round decision anyway.
Chuvalo, a plodding Toronto dogfighter has never yet been knocked off his feet, never took a backward step and drew repeated cheers from the partisan crowd as he battered away at Clay's body while catching a steady barrage of pot-shots in his own face from Clay's left.
It was an exciting bout with a plenitude of punches for the 9,000 spectators at Maple Leaf Gardens and the 38-closed-circuit audiences who saw the Louisville champion extended 15 rounds for the first time. Chuvalo landed solid blows with the left to Clay's body and jaw in several rounds, but Clay outpunched the Canadian by a wide margin and drew blood from cuts around his puffed eyes.
Scoring on the five-point must system for the winner of each round, referee Jackie Silvers favored Clay, 73-65. Judge Tony Canzane had it 74-63, and judge Jack Johnston, 74-62.
In his usual style, Cassius played the showman for the first five rounds. Before the opening bell, he bowed to the East and then shadow-boxed. In the opening rounds he danced around to the left, bounced occasionally off the ropes, raised his hands over his head and then dropped them below his waist, and waved to the crowd when they booed his antics and dodge-em tactics.
In the fifth round Chuvalo had forced the champ to wobble momentarily against the ropes after absorbing a hard combo to the jaw. By the start of the sixth, Clay had cut his clowning and disdainful attitude toward the challenger.
Clay scored heavily in the seventh round, and Chuvalo connected also--except that three of his four sound tags during the round were below the belt.
Clay, moving slower in the eighth through tenth rounds, looked as though he might be tiring even though his jabs to the head were plaguing the persistent challenger.
In the 11th round, Clay really opened up with every shot in his arsenal, scoring regularly but damaging little. Chuvalo, shooting for more haymakers with each round, withstood the head attack with some body returns of his own. In the 12th and 15th, he landed several solid punches to the challenger's head but could not inflict permanent damage.