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Sy Roseman

Who's McNamara?
A Guy Who Knows

With the heavyweight boxing picture so muddled these days, there was only one thing to do - take a trip to the gym and see my old friend McNamara.
Who is McNamara?
He's a guy who knows more about boxers than anyone in town. When McNamara tells you something, you sit back and listen. He doesn't always pick the winner when two boxers get inside the ropes, but he has by far the best opinion as to what is happening now, and what is going to happen in the future.
He's been my top source for the past 10 years, and his past performance record is that of an expert.
The first subject we discussed was who else but Joe Frazier.
McNamara, who's not the type of guy who climbs on bandwagons, talked a lot more optimistic about Frazier than he has about any Philadelphia fighter since Len Matthews, the retired lightweight who looked like a world champion in 1960.
"Two years ago," said McNamara, "I would have said no to a Frazier match with Cassius Clay or whatever he calls himself. Today, I'd say Joe would give him life and death."
Would Joe beat Clay?
McNamara pause for a moment because he knew I was putting him on the spot. Then, in his typical cagey manner, he said:
"Clay is the only one who could beat Frazier today, and I'm really not sure he could."
Frazier has shown vast improvement this past year, according to McNamara. "He's in the gym all the time no matter if he has a fight or not. He has the determination of a Marciano, and he's really the ideal fighter for any manager or trainer."
McNamara said Frazier might have trouble finding opponents now because of the WBA-sponsored heavyweight tourney going on. A match with Buster Mathis wouldn't mean anything, and McNamara wasn't too keen on a Frazier-Ernie Terrell bout because the banjo strummer never has really been a star at the box office.
Speaking of Terrell, McNamara felt Ernie made a big mistake by fighting Thad Spencer without a warmup.
"He was coming off the Clay fight when he got that wicked eye injury. I don't think he was physically right. He was leading a soft life playing with that combo, and a tuneup would have made more sense than the bout with Spencer."
Of all the heavies left in the elimination, McNamara likes Spencer to win it all.
"Jimmy Ellis may be the most dangerous of the group, but Spencer is the steadiest. The trouble with Ellis is he can't fight three minutes a round."
McNamara felt a little sorry for Leotis Martin, the Toledo boy now living in Philadelphia who took such a terrific beating from Ellis. 
"I don't think Martin was outclassed by Ellis," McNamara pointed out. "Leotis started the wrong way. He should've gotten off before Ellis did and showed him who was boss. The cut inside his mouth was a freak one. I've never quire heard of one like that before in the ring. But if Martin had any ideas of winning on a late rally, that cut sure ended it."
McNamara hopes the licking Martin absorbed from Ellis doesn't hurt his future in the ring. He likened it to the drubbing Terrell took from Clay. McNamara's not sure but he thinks Terrell may have lost something in that Clay bout, and he's wondering if Martin will be affected the same way by the Ellis shellacking.
Well, now that McNamara brought the situation up to date in his usual erudite manner, I shook his hand and quietly left.
Oh yes. Why the name McNamara?
Well, boxing's not the only thing he knows. Back in 1961, I told him our Secretary of Defense was going to be fired by President Kennedy. He was in complete disagreement.
Let's see. It's 1967 and we still have the same Secretary of Defense. Need I say more.

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