A visitor would have been tempted to get money down fast on Kent Norton Friday after seeing Duane Bobick with leaded spats over his shoes horsing around with his brother Rodney as if they were in the rumpus room at their acres in Bowlus, Minn.
What is a nice boy like Duane Bobick doing, agreeing to get into the ring with Norton, the physique freak of some film renown, who treated Muhammad Ali with contempt on the way to being done out of a decision in their title bout?
The March 2 fight at Madison Square Garden is a puzzling one. If trainer-manager Eddie Futch were the type to give up patient schooling and settle for at least one big day, Ali himself or George Foreman would figure to draw more money with the former Olympian.
The question is, why Norton?
"People asked the same thing before Norton fought Ali the first time, beat him, and broke his jaw," Futch said. "But nobody came back and said afterward that I made the right match.
"Who else should Duane fight? A lesser name with a style that might be a bigger risk for him, just to get another number on his record? Duane is better every time with a fighter than with a cutie. He has knocked out the cuties, but they make him look bad."
Norton has other skills and if he is not quite a cutie, he can box some.
"Skill?" Futch said, "I gave him the skills. The only two guys he boxed well against were Ali and Quarry.
"Quarry was ruined before that by the licking he took him from Joe Frazier.
"Norton once worked out with Ali and looked pretty good, because I saw something in Ali's style that Norton could exploit. Ali was embarrassed by how Norton handled him. I took Norton out of Ali's camp.
"The next day, Ali came out shouting, 'I want Norton; where is he?' I said there would be no sparring. I said, 'Yesterday was a workout; today would be a fight. Norton gets paid better to fight.
"I know some things about Norton's style, too, that I can't tell you. Don't forget - I had him for five years. I have had Bobick for two. I've been with Frazier. Would I take a bad bout for Duane?
"Norton has one punch, an upper-cut. He had all kinds of trouble against Ron Stander on the Ali-Jimmy Dunn card in Washington. Frazier handled Stander with ease.
"It's styles. Ali had trouble with Chuck Wepner, took 15 rounds to beat him down and got knocked down himself. Duane and Wepner went at it with backhands, elbows, thumbs and everything. In the sixth round, Wepner said, 'I've had enough.' Duane's shots underneath to the stomach did it."
"Bobick hits those cuties, so he must have fast hands. And the punches good to the body. I've got him up here, 2,600 feet above sea level. He will seem to have more stamina when he finishes training in New York City. The air is clearer and thinner here. I've been lucky with my fighters here. Norton trained here for his upset of Ali.
Bobick was asked whether, if he were his own manager, he would have picked Norton for his next opponent. "Yes," he said, "But it takes an Eddie Futch to know if it is the right decision. He's the boss and I want to go to the top. That's why I turned pro in 1973 - to be the champion."