It was a first round of comedy but there was no humor in it. In that round Conn flapped his left glove into Louis for the first punch of the fight and when they clinched Conn was talking to the empty-faced champion, whose mouth twitched as he pushed Conn away.
“What’s your hurry, Joe?” Conn asked, muttering through the mouth- piece. “We got 15 rounds to go.”
As they moved in a polite dance of caution, looking at each other as though they were angry men about to argue instead of punch, I saw the puckers of fat where Louis’s arms join his shoulders and his stomach moved when his legs did, as though it were not part of him but a slab of meat tied around his waist.
Conn danced leisurely in the first, the head cocked to the left, the legs pale and frail. Once Conn stomped at him, the way Varsity Drag dancers used to do before the Charleston ran them out of the cafés. Louis jabbed occasionally and Conn poked back at him, going backwards from side to side. Conn’s fleet yet apparently unconcerned stroll caused Louis to skip, the way a marching soldier does to fall back into step. Once Conn hit to the belly but they seemed fascinated by each other and appeared to be admiring each other’s style instead of going about the job they were paid to do.