The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but as Frank Adams once remarked, the betting is best that way. The event at Boyle’s Thirty Acres in Jersey City was the conclusive triumph of Reality over Romance, of Prose over Poetry. To almost all the newspaper-reading world–except the canny fellows who study these matters with care and knowledge–Carpentier had taken on something of the lustre and divinity of myth. He was the white Greek god, he was Mercury and Apollo. The dope was against him; but there were many who felt, obscurely, that in some pregnant way a miracle would happen. His limbs were ivory, his eyes were fire; surely the gods would intervene! Perhaps they would have but for the definite pronouncement of the mystagogue G.B. Shaw. Even the gods could not resist the chance of catching Shaw off his base.
We are not a turncoat; we had hoped that Carpentier would win. It would have been pleasant if he had, quite like a fairy tale. But we must tell things as we see them. Dempsey, in a very difficult situation, bore himself as a champion, and (more than that) as a man of spirit puzzled and angered by the feeling that has been rumoured against him. Carpentier entered the ring smiling, perfectly at ease; but there was that same sunken, wistful, faintly weary look about his eyes that struck us when we first saw him, at Manhasset, three weeks ago. It was the look of a man who has had more put upon him than he can rightly bear. But with what a grace and aplomb he stood upon that scaffold! Dempsey, on the other hand, was sullen and sombre; when they spoke together he seemed embarrassed and kept his face averted. As the hands were bandaged and gloves put on, he sat with lowered head, his dark poll brooding over his fists, not unlike Rodin’s Thinker. Carpentier, at the opposite corner, was apparently at ease; sat smilingly in his gray and black gown, watching the airplanes.
You have read the accounts of the fight to small purpose if you do not realize that Carpentier was utterly outclassed–not in skill or cunning, but in those qualities where the will has no part, in power and reach. From the first clinch, when Dempsey began that series of terrible body jabs that broke down the Frenchman’s energy and speed, the goose was cooked. There was nothing poetic or glamorous about those jabs; they were not spectacular, not particularly swift; but they were terribly definite. Half a dozen of them altered the scene strangely. The smiling face became haggard and troubled.
Carpentier, too, must have been leaving something to the gods, for his tactics were wildly reckless. He was the aggressor at the start, leading fiercely for Dempsey’s jaw, and landing, too, but not heavily enough to do damage. Again and again in that first round he fell into the fatal embrace in which Dempsey punished him busily, with those straight body strokes that slid in methodically, like pistons. Georges seemed to have no defence that could slacken those blows. After every clinch his strength plainly ebbed and withered. Away, he dodged nimbly, airily, easily more dramatic in arts of manoeuvre. But Dempsey, tall, sullen, composed, followed him steadily. He seemed slow beside that flying white figure, but that wheeling amble was deadly sure. He was always on the inner arc, Carpentier on the outer; the long, swarthy arms were impenetrable in front of his vitals; again and again he followed up, seeking to corner his man; Carpentier would fling a shining arm at the dark jaw; a clinch would follow in which the two leaned together in that curious posture of apparent affection; and they hung upon each other’s necks–Carpentier, from a distance, looking almost like a white girl languishing in the arms of some dark, solicitous lover. But Mr. Dempsey was the Fatal Bridegroom, for at each union he would rivet in several more of those steam punches.