Which big-time fighter is the $100 million man?

April 02, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

One of promoter Dan Duva's major selling points in pitching Evander Holyfield's title defense against Michael Moorer later this month is that the fight would make Holyfield the sports world's first $100 million man.

Duva said Holyfield, 31, would top the magical $100 million mark by earning an estimated $15 million for defending his International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association belts against the unbeaten challenger in the fight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on April 22.

But Mike Trainer, the Maryland-based attorney who handled Ray Leonard's fiscal affairs, had hailed Leonard as "the first $100 million athlete" back in 1991, when the five-time world champion made his boxing farewell against then-World Boxing Council super-welterweight champion Terry Norris.

At the time, Trainer calculated that Leonard's fists had earned him $105 million.

Hi Janks

Janks Morton probably is best-known for his lengthy association with Ray Leonard, first as a confidant, and later as his trainer. Boxing insiders can argue that Leonard was molded by his early trainers, Dave Jacobs and Pepe Correa, but Morton has since established his own reputation as a ring tutor.

In 1984, he was instrumental in guiding under-motivated Greg Page to the WBA heavyweight crown with a knockout-victory over Gerrie Coetzee. He also worked several years with heavyweight contender Razor Ruddock.

But Morton has performed his best tutoring job with heavyweight hope Larry Donald of Cincinnati, currently training and living in Crofton.

"I got with Page late in his career, after he'd gone through a lot of hands," said Morton. "I fired him up for that one fight with Coetzee, but after winning the fourth title, he went back to his old ways.

"Ruddock just had too many guys whispering in his ear about me. It was hard keeping him focused, so I just walked away."

But Morton has Donald's full attention, and his new protege scored a major upset, March 12, knocking Jeremy Williams from the unbeaten ranks in a rare network (ABC) match.

Williams, handled by Bill Cayton, Mike Tyson's former manager, had won 15 straight and was believed to be ready to challenge the top heavyweights. But Donald, not known for his punching power, floored him in the second round, and dominated the rest of the 12-round bout to win the WBC International title.

"Larry is just developing his punching power," said Morton. "He always had the hand speed, and with speed, comes power. All he needs now is experience."

Donald, 27, did not begin boxing until he was 19.

"I always liked boxing, but my first love was basketball. I averaged 20 points a game in high school and got a scholarship offer to Virginia Commonwealth. But once I started fighting amateur (50-5), I was hooked."

Donald participated in the 1992 Olympics and was eliminated by the eventual champion, Felix Salvon of Cuba.

"I'd been tracking Larry as an amateur since 1988," said Morton. "After the Olympics, he had offers from several big-time promoters, but we just hit it off. Steve Nelson and Bob Mittleman signed him, and asked me to train him."

Said Donald (12-0, 10 KOs), "A lot of guys make big promises, but I know I can trust Janks. He knows the game and has everyone's respect."

Donald has signed to fight Bert Cooper in Bay St. Louis, Miss., on April 14. But Morton predicts by next year that "he should be fighting for million-dollar purses, and even a world title."

Painful loss

Washington attorney Jeff Fried who represents former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, prevailed over the opposition of promoter Don King and WBC president Jose Sulaiman in getting lightweight Sharmba Mitchell of Takoma Park an elimination match with top-ranked Leavander Johnson. The winner was promised a title match in May with WBC champion Miguel Gonzales. But Mitchell, who proclaimed himself "the uncrowned lightweight champion" could not hold up his end.

Leading on all cards at the MGM Grand, March 8, the clever left-hander ran into a right hand by Johnson in the eighth round and was counted out.

"It reminded me of Bowe losing to Holyfield," said Fried. "Ninety-nine out of 100 times, Bowe wins, and I feel the same for Sharmba against Johnson. But this was that one time. has to start from scratch to rebuild his reputation."

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