LAS VEGAS -- Don King said yesterday that he is throwing down the gauntlet to rival fight promoters while busy hyping a junior welterweight championship showdown between undefeated champion Julio Cesar Chavez and former lightweight king Hector "Macho" Camacho here on Sept. 12.
"Everyone is saying I'm going out of business," said King, the main target of Senate and IRS investigations. "But I'm challenging all the fighters that Bob Arum, Dan Duva and TVKO control to fight any of my big three fighters -- Chavez, Camacho and [WBC middleweight champion] Julian Jackson -- any time, anywhere."
King lost most of his promotional clout when his main meal ticket, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, was imprisoned this year on a rape conviction. Tyson must serve a minimum of three years.
But King will be staging an all-heavyweight card in Cleveland next week, featuring former champions Tony Tucker, Greg Page and Bonecrusher Smith, plus top contender Razor Ruddock. Only Ruddock, who will fight undefeated Lennox Lewis in London this fall, is considered a serious title challenger.
Asked about his personal troubles, King said: "I won't talk about the Senate probe because I'm the only one they seem to be investigating, even though I changed boxing's pay scale and made more fighters millionaires than anyone else."
Jackson (44-1, 42 KOs), who aligned himself with King, took exception to King's boast.
"King, if you're the best," said Jackson, "it's time to prove it with dollars. I'm supposed to be the most talented middleweight in the world, but I've never had a big payday.
"I've had a lot of promises of big-money fights with James Toney, Mike McCallum and Terry Norris, but they've all turned their back on me."
* Chavez (80-0), tired of Camacho's bragging, said he will shut his mouth once and for all when they finally fight. When a reporter asked Camacho (40-0) if he would fight Chavez "winner-take-all," Macho countered, "That's when I don't understand English."
* Arum bashed the print media Wednesday for not taking the Evander Holyfield-Larry Holmes fight seriously, thus damaging live ticket and pay-per-view sales.
But co-promoter Duva said he is not unhappy with the advance sales. "All I read about is slow sales," said Duva. "But right now we're projected to do between $60 million and $70 million in total sales. If that's slow, we'll take it every day of the week. And if you sell 15,000 arena seats, that doesn't mean you're a failure."
Caesars Palace officials said 85 percent of the 16,000 seats in the outdoor arena had been sold.
* Holyfield's co-trainer, Lou Duva, who turned 70 yesterday, expects Holmes, 42, to resort to dirty tactics to buy time if he is still standing in the fourth round of the scheduled 12-rounder.
"I expect Larry will do anything to survive," Duva said. "I think he'll try to tackle and hold Evander illegally, anything to try and frustrate him. But if the referee [Mills Lane] lets it get out of hand, you'll see the stool flying from our corner."