Mickey Hayes: The man Tony Galento was afraid to meet
McCarthy's credentials for the job were impeccable. He'd had only seven previous fights – and had been knocked out in all of them.
Learning this, the Wisconsin boxing commission nixed the obvious tank job and recommended that Galento take on the 12-18-1 Mickey Hayes instead.
You'd have thought the Cudahy fighter was Jack Dempsey redux from the haste with which Galento canceled his reservation for Milwaukee.
"In his last five starts, Mickey was stopped four times," wrote Russ Lynch in the Journal. "Still, Galento doesn't want him. The inference is all too plain. Galento doesn't want any man who intends to fight. He wants to be sure he will hear a splash after two or three rounds."
Galento's refusal to fight Hayes, wrote Sentinel sports editor Stoney McGlynn, "should go down in the boxing annals. It must be the highlight of Mickey's career."
Sensing the opportunity for a big PR score, local promoter Judd Post hurriedly matched Johnny McCarthy and Hayes to fight at the Auditorium on April 29, billing it as "The man Galento couldn't fight vs. the man Galento wouldn't fight." The winner, said Post, would get a crack at Two Ton Tony here in May.
While it would be no clash of titans, wrote McGlynn of the McCarthy-Hayes fight, "one thing sure, with Mickey in there ... the fight will be on its merits. Not knowing much of McCarthy's talents, we warn him that he might make a chopping block out of Mickey's Irish pan, but the Cudahy man will keep boring in and pouring 'em home as long as mere flesh can stand it, and that as long as he is up he's dangerous because he does pack a punch."
McGlynn was a prophet. McCarthy jabbed Hayes silly until, with five seconds left in the second round, Cudahy's new folk hero dropped him with a big right hand and McCarthy's losing streak remained unblemished.
But the victory didn't earn Hayes a fight with Galento after all. Two Ton passed on him again, and instead when he climbed into the Auditorium ring on May 19 it was to box a four-round exhibition with a couple sparring partners he brought to town with him.
"Just imagine giving that bum $1,500 for a four-round exhibition when he's afraid of Mickey Hayes, a 20 year old kid," jeered boxing fan Ted Johnson in a letter to the Journal. "If Galento is afraid to fight, why should we pay to watch him shadow box with one of his bartenders?"
Some fans who did pay to watch lobbed tomatoes at Galento between rounds of his exhibition, and he left the ring to a chorus of boos.
After just three comeback bouts (one of them against rassler Fred Blassie) Galento gave up the ring again, at least as far as human competition as concerned. He barnstormed around the country boxing and wrestling bears and even an octopus, and did several turns in the movies, most famously as a union headbreaker in "On the Waterfront." Five years ago, Joseph Monninger wrote an acclaimed book called "Two Ton: One Fight. One Night. Tony Galento Vs. Joe Louis." A screenplay based on the book is making the rounds in Hollywood.
Mickey Hayes lost all but one of his last 17 bouts but always went down swinging the way he did against heavyweight contender Elmer "Violent" Ray in Boston on January 11, 1945.
"Ray's third punch, a right to the jaw, put Hayes down for nine in the first round, but he came up fighting and succeeded in rocking Ray several times before the end of the fight" in the third round, reported the Associated Press.
When last heard of in the mid-'60s, Hayes was driving a fruit truck for a living in Florida.
"In justice to Mickey, piano legs and all, lack of any will-o'-the-wisp agility or boxing finesse, it should be stated he can punch his way around ... and will keep punching and receiving, especially a considerable portion of the latter, without showing a trace of the white feather," wrote Stoney McGlynn in '43.
Forget his boxing record. That is the book on the man Tony Galento was afraid to meet.
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