Great episode. I think Rod Serling said it best in the opening: "no law can be passed which will abolish cruelty or desperate need - nor, for that matter, blind animal courage. Location for the facing of said truth: a small, smoke-filled arena just this side of the Twilight Zone".
This is supposed to take place in the future in 1974? Well that isn't exactly the future but Serling's position and story is still interesting. In the future despite man's improvement in science and technology there is still barbarism and a showcase for blood in sports.
Prizefighting has been eliminated so in the future robots duke it out to see which model is better. Naturally all the fans expect everything out of the newer models and nobody has any appreciation nor respect for the extinct models that have paved the way. In this case "Battling Maxo" a B2 robot, severely outdated, is scheduled to take a B7.
The robot's mananger, Steel (excellently played by Lee Marvin) absolute adores and respects this machinery. It's like a man in love with a car from the 50's because it's a classic. However, it's clear "Battling Maxo" cannot fight anymore. Steel's mechanic pleads with him not to have the thing and give up this job. Truth be told, Steel probably cannot do another job this is something he has been doing.
The lowlife manager promises to pay only after the fight and violence is done. The robot breaks down and in a true testament of commitment, Steel, really needing the money, decides to take the robot's place.
This is a sad episode especially considering the fact that the lowlife businessman doesn't even pay Steel all the money they've agreed on.
Again, man's ability to exploit man and machine is both a reality and a testament to his ability to never follow through on his word.
Lee Marvin is fantastic in this. He plays the manager as a both a loving and poor soul that has no options left except to deliver this pitiful crowd and businessman what he wants.
Like Rod Serling says in the end, man's ability to rise the occasion is uncanny. However, he cleary seems to imply this in a negative manner. No matter what achievements happen in the future, man still is cruel and unjust to others especially others in desperate need to continue on with their livelihoods no matter how bleak they may be. In short, exploitation of others is something that will never be ridden off even in the future.