“When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes…” from Quarry to Golovkin

By Michael Schmidt on June 26, 2013
“When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes…” from Quarry to Golovkin
Joe Frazier is again in full rhythm thumping off short jabs, hooks, forearms. (Getty Images)

It is hard not to conjure forth warlike metaphors when watching and thinking about Golovkin. Each and every second is an explosion waiting to happen…

June 23, 2013

Two spring-loaded heavyweights, toe-to-toe, 44 years ago, engaged in a Fight of the Year slugfest!

It’s the weekend before “The Long Weekend” (See The Long Weekend No. 2: The Prodigy – July 1, 2012, The Long Weekend – June 30, 2011) and I’m chopping and piling wood on the beach for a big bonfire next week, “Canada Day”. I’m also burning off some old wood from the bush down near the pond, and the smoke is getting in my eyes.  The sun is rising up, early morning over Georgian Bay. I’m sitting, taking a break, looking at the sky turn early morning pink/orange and contemplating last night’s effort by Mr. J. Banks. Perplexing! I walk a few hundred feet to the boathouse, enter the upstairs room where the wood shutters are folded back and the windows are wide open, with a light bay breeze blowing in, taking me back in time. I plug in a DVD and take a break.

June 23, 1969, Madison Square Garden, New York City

Johnny Addie is ring announcing the entry of Bellflower “Irish” Jerry Quarry. He enters the ring in a pink robe, blue golf hat, and that Kennedy-like side part hairstyle.  Arthur Mercante is the referee and the atmosphere is electric and it’s the day before the legendary Dempsey’s birthday. Ringside tickets have sold at a record price for an indoor heavyweight fight.

What’s not to like about the charismatic 23-year-old Jerry Quarry with his 31-2-4 record?  He comes from a hard as nails background.  An escalated argument with an umpire’s call one time ended with Quarry breaking his hand on said Mr. Umpires head.  On another occasion when a customer once tried to steal a pool cue from Quarry’s Bar and was politely asked by Jerry to return the said cue, which was ungraciously whacked over Quarry’s head, the said cue customer, knocked cold by Quarry, ended up in the hospital.

“Fifteen Rounds, for the Heavyweight Championship of the World…Joe Frazier.  ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier.” Back then those words sent chills up your spine!

Joe Frazier is a 203-pound considerately sized up heavyweight Henry Armstrong version. An unrelenting machine, hungry, with a style of forced fury, marks what Frazier is. He was an Olympic Gold Medalist and enters the ring, 25 years old, with 23 wins, no losses, and 20 KOs.

Quarry was at peak confidence. “I boxed Frazier in the gym about four years ago,” he said. “It was the Main Street gym in the afternoon. He’s putting out a bunch of stuff that he dominated me. That’s a bunch of crap. I hit him some good shots, and I discovered he really can’t punch too good. I’m going in there and I know I can beat him. You ever felt that way? That there’s one guy that you just know that you can beat?”

When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Quarry, an intuitive back-against-the-ropes counterpuncher, is putting his natural instincts style aside and is proclaiming Irish bar room brawler-like fashion, “Frazier will go down in the first.” Legendary trainers such as Cus D’Amato and Angelo Dundee are leaning towards a Quarry victory. Dundee, pre-fight, states, “Joe Frazier is a perfect foil for Quarry…he’ll come to Quarry and anybody who does is in trouble.”

Fight of the Year

ROUND 1

That distinctive Madison Square Garden buzz and ring bell goes and we see why we love Quarry and Frazier to this very day. They embody truth transmitted from the mental to the physical. Quarry moves straight to the center of the ring and lays out a lead right hand and a huge left hook to the body of Frazier. Quarry, who pre-fight had stated he wanted to find out “who was the toughest, who’s the best puncher and who can take the best punch,” is throwing punches true to his word. 

Give-and-take and take-and-give goes one of the great first rounds in heavyweight history as Frazier is buzzed by a Quarry right hand with 30 seconds to go. Both fighters are digging huge shots to the body. The bell rings and the crowd erupts in excitement.

ROUND 2

The fight is a slugfest! Frazier has landed three huge left hooks and a right hand. With approximately one minute left to go Quarry has sunk two hard rights on Frazier’s head to little effect. 

ROUND 3

Both fighters again meet each other center ring. A huge right and a left hand by Frazier sends Quarry to a corner. “Quarry is a tough kid,” Hall of Famer Howard Cosell comments. “I’ll tell you that.”

ROUND 4

Frazier has found his rhythm. Two hundred pounds plus of black granite, all churning hands and elbows, machine-like in memory, takes over. A giant Henry Armstrong, bobbing, weaving, moving left hand and right hand, punctuated by the occasional elbow, bores down on Jerry Quarry. The sound of the blows resonates: ITALIC“Humpfff, Humpfff, Humpfff” Frazier grunts, as if a thousand memory blows on rhythm, smacking a heavy bag, but it’s not a heavy bag, it’s bone, flesh, and human soul, being that of Jerry Quarry. 

“Quarry has a granite chin,” observes Cosell. “Quarry is cut under the eye and his face is becoming a puffy mess.”

ROUND 5

Dundee, ringside, has stated that Frazier is now dominating and before the bell rings the ring doctor and Arthur Mercante are both over in Quarry’s corner taking a close look.

As the bell rings for the fifth, Quarry tries to get up on his toes and lay out some jabs but Frazier is all over him now. Quarry has a bad cut under the eye. Miraculously, with only the inner sanctum of Quarry’s mind to answer how he stands remaining, Jerry, with about one minute left, fires off 11 straight punches. Frazier brings a massive uppercut. Quarry responds with a massive uppercut of his own. Frazier brings a left hook. Quarry brings a left hook. It’s Quarry’s last stand. As the bell rings Jerry heads to his corner in big trouble. 

ROUND 6

Frazier is again in full rhythm thumping off short jabs, hooks, forearms and how Quarry is taking Frazier’s huge hook at the end of the round is perhaps a Leprechaun’s deep in the woods conversation of Irish magic still whispering deep of Quarry’s pain all these years forward. 

ROUND 7

Frazier pounds the bleeding Quarry without mercy. Incredibly Quarry lets loose of one last huge left hook to Frazier’s body.

After round seven the fight is stopped and the sobbing disconsolate Quarry circle walks the squared circle on the edge of a shattered dream.

Fight of the Year!

The glory of it all, laid out in the mythical Madison Square Garden—of Mercante, Addie, Cosell, Dundee, Yank Durham always speaking of protégé Frazier entwined as one (“I was in shape, and I was ready to go fifteen”); of Jimmy Ellis suit of blue in the ring after the fight and soon enough to feel the blues; of the superb Gil Clancy, of the shadow of “Clay”, the Ali exile hovering over the garden, and of Quarry, Frazier, “Smokin’.”

The sun is up full now over Georgian Bay and I am alone on 1,000 feet of private beach and bush. I have chopped wood for a couple of hours and moved a few thousand pounds of patio slabs over near the pond to make a path. There’s a breeze up over Georgian Bay and a single sailboat way off in the distance. I hear a few seagulls off in the distance.

I feel healthy! Touch wood or in this case knock on rock! My god the pain and physical abuse these guys take. I wipe some sweat off my face. Fuck me! Maybe it’s the smoke that’s gotten in my eye. Maybe it’s a small drop of nostalgic admiration. To the fighters, Quarry and Frazier, who both some 44 years back wanted to find out something about themselves, internal, not to be measured by the simplicity of leather against skin and bone.

The Platters Shall Not Pass to the Next

“Something here inside cannot be denied…oh when your heart’s on fire…you must realize…you must realize…smoke gets in your eyes…when a lonely flame dies, smoke gets in your eyes.”—The Platters

Bring on Your Wrecking Ball / Another Fight of the Year?

Golovkin!!!

We are at the half-year mark and could we possibly get more than the likes of Rios vs. Alvarado II or Bradley vs. Provodnikov as Fight of the Year candidates.

Next weekend, HBO time, two other wonderful warriors, Gennady Golovkin and Irish “Mack the Knife” Macklin will engage to see who is best, and to see who’s toughest. Sometimes it isn’t easy being Irish green. Oh yes, by nature, the Irish like to fight. But who’s to say? If Macklin finds a way to plant that right hand, which is substantial, on the superb Golovkin, perhaps, years moving forward, we will be speaking once again of moments of the past superb.

Make no mistake about Golovkin. I have watched him upfront ringside and he is all that has been spoken of, in style, in substance, either hand knockout power and wonderful in-and-out footwork. 

It is hard not to conjure forth warlike metaphors when watching and thinking about Champion Golovkin. Each and every second is an explosion waiting to happen. As for Macklin I can tell you this much, as well, in consideration of his power; as I sat ringside last year at Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez, “Mack the Knife”, like Quarry, a few seconds off the first bell, popped a right hand onto Joachim Alcine and seconds later Mr. Alcine was moving sideways and I mean that in a very real physical sense.

Is there anything more requisite than the power of one-punch dispatch? These two superb boxers, fighters, Macklin and Golovkin bring such to this fight. In the end result this is the resulting end that makes us sit on the edge of our entertainment seats. This long weekend!

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  1. mikeschmidt 05:26am, 07/25/2013

    Coming late in on this one lads—was watching Hagler vs Vito last night—the first fight—Vito huge in the grind, pound, push and take a shot all night lonnnnngggg heart department—adios and great posts always.

  2. Michael Hegan 06:17pm, 06/27/2013

    Eric….too true…and I must say Sailor Tom Sharkey never ‘got a dinner’  Good on u for mentioning him…..especially as a guy with HEART

  3. Michael Hegan 06:12pm, 06/27/2013

    you’ll never need to hire a six thousand dollar a day ......HYPE guy…......all you need to do….to make a bunch of folks start to believe in themselves again…...is to show them Joe Frazier beating the fkn snot out of Ali….all night long.

    If a person believes in themself….....nothing ...nothing will stop them

  4. Eric 06:05pm, 06/27/2013

    I’d rate Mickey Walker, Carmen Basilio, Rocky Marciano, Arturo Gatti, Sailor Tom Sharkey very high on that “heart meter” also.

  5. Michael Hegan 06:01pm, 06/27/2013

    Tommy Hearns vs Marvin Hagler…..pretty close to top three on the nut bar…..when measuring HEART

  6. Michael Hegan 05:58pm, 06/27/2013

    Beside Joe Frazier beating Ali….on HEART…..you guys must know by now Joe Frazier was blind in one eye and a converted southpaw….

    That Joe became such a true HW Fighter and Champion….shows even more about Joe Frazier’s HEART

  7. Michael Hegan 05:51pm, 06/27/2013

    HEART METER….if one hundred percent is JOE FRAZIER….then…NINETY NINE POINT NINE NINE PERCENT IS TIED BY ABOUT SIXTEEN GUYS…..AMONG THEM .....Miracle Matthew…SAAD MUHAMMAD…..Bobby Chacon….Jerry Quarry…George Chuvalo…Marvin Hagler….....just to set the bar

  8. Michael Hegan 05:44pm, 06/27/2013

    when you wanna talk about HEART…..it is Joe Frazier…

    He went from an Olympic medal winner to a very busy HW Contender….(not unlike tyson’s schedule ...much later)
    Frazier had skills…...talent ..and HEART…...
    Nobody out gutted Joe Frazier….

  9. Michael Hegan 05:41pm, 06/27/2013

    I’m going back into action too….......won’t be able to keep up with the articles and ...most important…the posts…

    I’ll try to keep current.

    As of now…...difference of opinion on Malignaggi vs boner….and the general feeling that matches aren’t for the fans…but for the promoters….

    howcumitis….Pacquiao didn’t demand and get a rematch with Bradley….
    Bradley is sort of like the guy that shot Liberty Valance….and then forgotten.

    yeh sure ...a lot of shit and disruption about the decision…....but Bradley was right there in front of Pacquiao…all night long….he hit..and didn’t get hit…...

    Pac…did not lay the bomb on the kid….not once….

    Now…...Pacquiao had some serious domestic and financial matters that may have been ....preventing a man from focussing (..you think ?)

    Say what you want….Bradley painted Pacquiao all night long….and Pac failed to drop the hammer…even once

  10. Michael Hegan 04:56pm, 06/27/2013

    Quarry and Frazier were from a time when tuf fkrs fought other tuf fkrs…and didn’t hide or wait for the tuff fkrs to die of old age…..
    Quarry ...to his credit…fought them all….beat some….beat most of them

    Quarry began to enjoy the lifestyle…and paid less attention to what got him there

  11. Mike Schmidt 11:00am, 06/27/2013

    On the Road guys and thanks all—always nice to get posts—Side Note- -n the undercard 44 years ago George Foreman made his debut—guess what—he knocked his man out—who woulda thunked it—some four years later he would be destroying Joe—not the same Joe as here though—the Ali fight, in my humble opinion was last of the great “Smokin” we saw.

  12. Rico 10:15am, 06/27/2013

    Seems poetic that the two best left hookers in the heavyweight division met on Dempsey’s birthday! Sometimes a fighter has too much guts for his own good, Quarry was a very good boxer puncher but elected to war… Tons of fun to watch though!

  13. Mike Casey 05:23am, 06/27/2013

    First round was awesome, Pete! Never to be forgotten.

  14. Pete The Sneak 05:18am, 06/27/2013

    Schmiddy, another classic read dude… Man, I can just close my eyes and see that first round between Frazier/Quarry. Heck, this was so vividly written I’m reaching for the Visine as we speak to clear my smoky eyes…But I was sold from the 2nd Paragraph on, where the names ‘Addie. Quarry, Mercante & Dempsey’ were mentioned. Having seen those names, I would have read the rest of it even if it said @#%*##@@ for the rest of the story. Peace.

  15. Mike Casey 04:02am, 06/27/2013

    Great stuff, Mike! Jerry was my favourite fighter back then, with Joe a close second. What a fight! I still think about it.

  16. Michael Hegan 11:02pm, 06/26/2013

    not many managers wanted to mix it up with Frazier….Frazier ‘s team decided to bypass the HW tournament to replace ALI…...(what a hungarian dog fk that was….some fighters actually got their expenses back)

  17. Michael Hegan 10:52pm, 06/26/2013

    Frazier to Quarry…...not a fair fight…...Smokn Joe was to ferocious…..bob and weave didn’‘t get him passed much big hits…..but HE KEPT ON COMING…...With horrible left and rights…..when landed

  18. Michael Hegan 10:45pm, 06/26/2013

    I like how Mike Schmidt brings these moments to all of us

  19. Michael Hegan 10:43pm, 06/26/2013

    in the beginning…...you wanna get by Joe Frazier….you needed a sniper in the crowd…..and man in the opponent’s corner….Joe was plenty tuff…from the start

  20. Michael Hegan 10:40pm, 06/26/2013

    my computer skills are equal to my resume results…......i can test motorcycle helmets…..or render judgement on Immigration matters

  21. Michael Hegan 10:35pm, 06/26/2013

    ‘Smokin’ Joe was not an acronym…...it was a description !!!!

    you wanna mix with ‘smokin’ Joe…......be advised…....not much smoke…but lo’s of ‘explosions.  lotsa back room arguments when Joe was coming up

  22. Michael Hegan 09:42pm, 06/26/2013

    when you lose a contest…...due to points…....then you should win   ,  due to leather on target   and like that

  23. Michael Hegan 09:17pm, 06/26/2013

    i knew that Joe Frazier had become dedicated to his gym….and left it at that…

    I find out later…that joe didn’t have a place to live…..so he slept on a cot upstairs from his guy…...and used the showers to keep clean.

    Why does this happen to misinformed…uninformed athletes….especially losers !!!

    a fighter is lucky to get twenty per cent of the purse….and even then…he’ll have no plan

  24. Michael Hegan 09:04pm, 06/26/2013

    Michael Schmidt…..what a great article about a great fighter…in a great time of GREAT FIGHTERS….

    Thank you

  25. Michael Hegan 08:59pm, 06/26/2013

    Joe Frazier is just another Champion who died in the dimness of dementia./health issuues..and poverty

    We should be ashamed…

  26. Michael Hegan 08:54pm, 06/26/2013

    Quarry and braintrust wanted to take two short cuts….

    FIrst was to skip a lot of time and people…by fighting Joe Frazier…..didn’t work out well

    Next…in an effort to get GRAND exposure….he went up against George Chuvalo…....

    Quarry was a great HW…but he wasn’t dedicated…he just liked the lifestyle

  27. Michael Hegan 08:50pm, 06/26/2013

    ali and frazier were the last of the Champions…..who came up thru the ranks…....
    These guys lived and profited by the old axiom…..you wanna get good….you gotta fight good fighters…....Billy Conn said that…lotsa guys believed that

  28. Michael Hegan 08:46pm, 06/26/2013

    when it comes to Joe Frazier…
    ...it is not that he was a tubby who trained himself down to a thoroughly dangerous man..

    ...it is not about a lefty who converted to ‘normal’ right hander..

    ...it isn’t even about his good training and dedication to his craft…

    ...IT IS ABOUT HIS HEART…...MAN JOE FRAZIER HAD HEART !!!

  29. Michael Hegan 08:29pm, 06/26/2013

    tuffer than boiled whale shit..and as mean as my last ex wife’s lawyer….

    Joe Frazier didn’t have a lotta money behind him….....just class and a lotta heart…and relentless energy.
    SOme folks say he’d deliberately lose the first the first cupla rounds….just to see how the ‘worthy opponent’ moved and punched….sort of a poker player’s ‘read’

    At the end….it was exposed ..that Joe Frazier fought most of his career with one eye blind….and as a converted southpaw…..

    That Joe Frazier became a top contender and then the HW CHAMPION OF THE WORLD….says all there is to say about Professional Boxing at that time

    Frazier beat Ali…when Ali was trying to make a comeback at Frazier’s expense….....Frazier took exception…..

    Nobody could have beaten Frazier that night…..NOBODY

  30. carlos varela jr. 07:57pm, 06/26/2013

    The fighters of the past they always wanted to test themselves against the best fighters something we do not see much this days young boxers need to go back to that era and learn something about what being a champion as all about , great times to be a boxing fan what an era.

  31. Koolz 05:02pm, 06/26/2013

    Why it won’t be war.
    Golovkin is just to good for Macklin.
    he is going to be fainting, jabbing, having an inside game.
    He never wastes punches and he always has incredible balance.
    I can’t see Macklin even making past the sixth round.
    Golovkin won’t be standing there taking punches he will be luring
    Macklin to be hit.
    People think Golovkin has no defense that’s really an absurd observation.
    The guy picks fighters punches off and actually creates traps for them.
    Just watch Proska and Ishida fight.

  32. Eric 03:52pm, 06/26/2013

    Frazier was just a tad too strong for Quarry. Quarry beat the Lyles, the Shavers, the Spencers, the Mac Fosters, the Buster Mathises, but just couldn’t quite step up to the level of a Frazier or an Ali. Putting aside the trio of Ali, Frazier, and Foreman, Quarry very well could have been the best of the rest from the 60’s-70’s period of heavyweights.  I don’t think Norton would have beaten Quarry had they met in 1972-1973, and face it , Quarry was beating Chuvalo easily until that controversial knockout.

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