Foreman-King alliance may be forming

February 07, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Professional boxing always has made for strange bedfellows, and the romancing of former heavyweight champion George Foreman by promoter Don King is the latest example of an unlikely ring alliance.

Since launching his comeback in 1988, Foreman had dutifully avoided doing business with King, staging most of his fights in conjunction with Bob Arum's Top Rank, Inc.

But eager to get one more title shot, Foreman, 42, appears ready to do business with King, who is staging the Lennox Lewis-Tony Tucker World Boxing Council championship bout in Las Vegas on May 8.

Foreman does not want to stand in line to challenge Riddick Bowe, who owns the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation titles. Bowe's manager, Rock Newman, already has planned 1993 bouts against Ray Mercer and Larry Holmes. Newman also mentions Alex Garcia and Alex Stewart as possible rivals.

So King held out a carrot that Foreman possibly could fight the winner of Lewis-Tucker, and they publicly embraced at a meeting Friday afternoon.

Asked about his possible union with King, Foreman said, "Even when cannibals eat with a fork, that's progress."

King said: "This is the prodigal son coming home. George Foreman will fight for the title. He should never fight again unless it's for a title."

King, however, was mostly blowing smoke. He neither controls Lewis, who has signed fight options with Dan Duva, nor Foreman, who has commitments to Home Box Office.

Seth Abraham, president of Time Warner Sports, the parent company of HBO, said: "George signed a three-fight contract with us, and he has two left. It was not signed in disappearing ink. It is not water soluble."

Brief encounter

It has been seven years since Madison Square Garden last staged a heavyweight championship match, and it was totally forgettable.

Only 5,042 fans turned out to see Tim Witherspoon defend his WBA crown against James "Bonecrusher" Smith.

They were hardly settled in their seats when Smith decked Witherspoon with a right hand. He would floor Witherspoon twice more before the referee intervened only 132 seconds into the bout.

"We caught a moment in time," said Smith, whose championship reign lasted three months before he was whipped by Mike Tyson.

But Smith still is campaigning at 39. He will meet unbeaten

Michael Moorer on ABC-TV on Feb. 27.

"Foreman got $5 million for knocking out Pierre Coetzer last month. That's serious money," Smith said. "I just want a piece of the pie. If I knock out Moorer, I could be fighting for another million-dollar purse. Boxing is crazy."

No Bowe fan

Promoter-manager Butch Lewis, who handled Bowe through most of his amateur boxing career, said he has no regrets losing the current heavyweight champion to former aide Newman.

"Rock's put in four hard years to get Bowe to the top and deserves to reap the benefits," Lewis told Newsday.

"But what Bowe did to me, no man, boy or child should do under any circumstances."

Lewis recalled that he paid for the funeral of Bowe's sister, Brenda, when she was murdered in Brooklyn in 1988 while Bowe was competing in the Olympics.

"The family had no money, and she was going to be buried in Potter's Field," Lewis said. "I paid all the burial fees, and then Bowe comes to me later and asks me to match offers to manage him professionally. That shows his true character. If he could do that to me, he could do it to someone else."

Fat city

New York State boxing commissioner Randy Gordon said Michael Dokes' advisers made a mistake in allowing him to train for the Bowe fight at a Las Vegas hotel.

"Dokes thinks being a heavyweight means being heavy," he said of the challenger, who weighed in at 244 pounds. "He should have been up in the mountains running and chopping wood. When I see all that loose flesh on a fighter, I have to wonder how hard he's been working to get in shape."

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