King lands more jabs than Showtime card

Phil Jackman

December 14, 1992|By Phil Jackman

The usual fare on Showtime as the hour grows late Sunday evenings is a movie, followed by another movie, followed by another movie. Hey, we're talking cable here, remember.

Even so, the net probably would have been better advised sticking with the kick-boxers and Arnold Schwarzenegger wiping out half of Los Angeles considering the alternative programming provided last night.

It was a Don King Production. In other words, boxing. More specifically, bad, one-sided matches certainly not worth a mention were it not for the fact they were on national television.

The main event featured Julio Cesar Chavez and a nice boy out of Indiana, Marty Jakubowski. Play-by-play announcer Steve Albert informed us Jakubowski carried a 3.9 grade-point average at Purdue University.

Marty could move. Marty was in good shape and Marty tossed out a left jab that probably raised havoc among 140-pounders in the Big Ten. Chavez entered the ring with an 83-0 record, 68 of those wins coming via knockout.

Recall what Kid Gavilan did to a college boy named Chuck Davey many moons ago?

Julio had a couple of his children in the ring with him just before being introduced and, after warming up for four rounds, decided it was getting late and perhaps it was time to whisk the kids off to bed. Not only his own, but Jakubowski, too.

The fight was stopped 18 seconds into the sixth round, Chavez stating later through a pained expression, "I didn't want to hurt the kid."

Don King, the man with the electrified hair, stood beaming in the background, breathlessly waiting to have his moment on camera. He had been present all evening, as usual, dominating the ring so everyone in the Las Vegas hotel ballroom crowd could be made aware this was his show.

Most self-respecting promoters, even those who work the fight game, wouldn't have been so forward.

Before the Chavez workout, another of King's proteges, Terry Norris, worked up a sweat while beating on Irish Pat Lawlor.

Chavez knew how to carry Jakubowski and make him look good for a while. Norris had no such capability or intention. Lawlor looked like some Little League kid grabbing a bat and going up to face Nolan Ryan.

This one went three rounds, twice as long as it should have, perhaps because Chavez hadn't begun to have his hands wrapped back in his dressing room.

The first fight picked up live by Showtime came on shortly after 10 p.m. with Greg Haugen taking on a lad named Armando Campas.

Haugen frankly admitted he was suffering from the flu, was a little short on conditioning, hadn't sparred even a single round in preparation and knew absolutely nothing about his opponent. "It's tough to get up for fights like this," he said disdainfully after taking a unanimous decision over 10 boring rounds.

Finally and after numerous hints and veiled references during the 150-minute show, our host Mr. King gave us the word on the need and necessity of this -- he called it "spectacular" -- show.

In a couple of months and in the huge Azteca Soccer Stadium in Mexico City, Chavez will be meeting Haugen. And, oh yes, a couple of other champions on last night's card, Norris and Julian Jackson, and one who wasn't, Azumah Nelson, will be there, too.

King said something about it being the "Grand Slam Night of Champions" and, like all his shows of late, it too would be dedicated to Mike Tyson.

Tyson, like many a heavyweight before him, was King's main man (alias meal ticket) until he went and got himself incarcerated on a rape charge and friend Don has been doing all in his power to get court proceedings reversed since.

Fine, that's what friends are for. But for at least the third time, Showtime joined in the crusade for a new trial for Tyson by giving over the first several minutes to the telecast to the bleatings of defense attorney Alan Dershowitz.

The Harvard Law School professor you've seen on ABC's "Nightline" perhaps 150 times disdains publicity much in the manner Don King does. About the nicest thing the attorney said about Desiree Washington, the young lady Tyson was found guilty of raping, was "she's a money grubber and a liar."

Dershowitz took several other shots too, at the trial judge, the prosecutor, the state of Indiana and so on, for the umpteenth time. That's his job and his privilege, but it's nothing short of scandalous Showtime becomes a party to it obviously to curry with King.

Any doubt this was the express intention last night was dispelled when the usually straight-shooting commentator Ferdie Pacheco said to the promoter, "Don, this might have been one of your best promotions." When, in actuality, it wasn't even up to King's customary specious standards.

As Big Don cackled gleefully in the background, Haugen was in the ring following the Chavez fight crowing how he was going to clobber the national hero of Mexico come Feb. 20.

Chavez took one look at him and laughed. He hadn't wanted to hurt Jakubowski, but he promised "no pity on Haugen. I will knock him out because he has a big mouth."

It was King who reminded viewers how lucky they were to be witnessing such captivating entertainment, "and wouldn't it be a terrific holiday idea to give a friend a gift subscription to Showtime."

Please come back, Jean Claude Van Damme; all is forgiven.

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