If Chavez is judge, boxing's in trouble

May 10, 1994|By Phil Jackman

News and Views from the Cauliflower Patch:

What a memorable scene it was. The fight was over, an extremely unpopular decision had been rendered and it looked as if the Nevada National Guard would have to be called out to quell the disturbances surrounding the Las Vegas ring. "This is what boxing's all about, controversy," shouted Don King, joyously.

Thing is, the self-described "greatest promoter ever" believed it, then and now. King and, by extension, his partners, World Boxing Council president Jose Sulaiman and the former great fighter Julio Cesar Chavez, have struck again.

Hey, a fighter doesn't want to go on, as was the case with Chavez the other night in King's pay-per-view "Revenge: The Rematches" show in Las Vegas, he doesn't have to. It's called a legend's prerogative.

But to go a rematch one better and hand him the title when, it appears, it was Chavez himself who ordered the stoppage after being cut on a butt, well, only King would even think of orchestrating such an outlandish scenario.

On second thought, check that. An attempt at "Long Count II" at the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas shocker in Tokyo a few years ago was pretty far-out stuff.

The card, which raged on until 1 in the morning here in the East, had been a good one, Terry Norris and Jesse James Leija winning titles from Simon Brown and Azumah Nelson in 12-rounders that had to appeal to lovers of the sweet science. And for fireworks, there was Gerald McClellan coaxing Julian Jackson into at least thinking about retirement with a knockout victory inside a minute and a half.

The Chavez-Frankie Randall scrap was a keeper, too, until he became apparent after about five rounds that Randall was coming on and Chavez was in trouble. As Randall said later, "I was hurting him; I was going to stop him in the ninth or 10th round."

Come the unintentional butt at the end of the eighth round, however, and the eventual outcome was strictly conjectural. A WBC rule, which defies logic, dictated a point had to be deducted from Randall's score, because he was unlucky enough not to bleed when the fighters' heads met, and this gave Chavez the fight.

It would have been shocking had not the circumstances surrounding previous Chavez "victories" over Meldrick Taylor and Pernell Whitaker come to mind. And just think how many more folks are apt to watch the replay of the card coming up on Showtime this weekend as a result of the controversy.

Hey, maybe Don King is right, maybe this is what boxing is all about. Unfortunately.

* Poor Lennox Lewis. The guy can't win no matter what he does.

As if it's not bad enough he is compelled to apologize for the heavyweight title he maintains, that belt sponsored by the WBC, completely dominates a fight, winning every round before blasting out an opponent, and he still catches what-for.

After being shelled by the press all week leading up to his victory over Phil Jackson in Atlantic City Saturday night, the commentators on the HBO telecast then took their shots. George Foreman, who says one thing one minute then contradicts himself the next, was particularly critical.

Lennox won a gold medal in the Olympics, beating Riddick Bowe in the final. He's unbeaten as a pro, scoring 21 knockouts in 25 bouts. It's not as though he's ducking anyone, in fact seeking a reunification bout with World Boxing Association/International Boxing Federation champ Michael Moorer at his earliest convenience.

Still, they refer to the Brit as a cheese champ, a guy who came by his title "not with blood and sweat in the ring but by decree." Forgotten, perhaps, is the fact Lewis gained the title as a result of a terrific one-punch knockout of Razor Ruddock, after which unified champ Bowe refused to go through with a mandated bout with the victor.

So why is it Lennox, not Riddick, comes out the bad guy in this scenario?

It has been suggested in at least a hundred ways that Lennox probably can't fight and has questionable will. He has been mocked consistently after so-called unimpressive title defense wins against Tony Tucker and Frank Bruno. Meanwhile, Bowe was entertaining the likes of Michael Dokes and Jesse Ferguson and not a whole lot was said.

With Bowe and Lewis as champs after Riddick beat Evander Holyfield, it was expected the former Olympic rivals would put the title back together more than a year ago. Instead, Bowe fought a couple of stiffs, then lost a rematch to Holyfield, who in turn lost to Moorer. Lewis has been the only constant in the division and now Moorer doesn't seem to be in any hurry to face Lennox.

Meanwhile, to fulfill a contract with HBO, Bowe rumbles with Buster Mathis Jr. and two more from among Lionel Butler, Carl Williams, Ray Mercer, Jorge Gonzalez, Joe Hipp and Larry Donald this summer, presumably to set himself up for a challenge of Moorer early next year.

What Moorer's plans are, only he knows, which leaves Lewis up in the air and complaining, "It's about time the American public got to see Lennox Lewis' true talent. I haven't shown my best yet."

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