Don King, love him or hate him (and we do), makes a mockery of the word indefatigable. At the age of 75, when most people are dead or happily retired, the long-haired promoter gives no hint of even looking for a junior partner.
And love him or hate him (as we do), he must be given his props in often putting together intriguing cards. His latest is a long one that he scrambled to place next Saturday night in Kissimmee (FL) near Orlando.
Showtime plans to televise the two best matchups of the night. As is often the case with King, whatever is on the screen is not as much as what exists on the scene. The main event is a dilly, a possible throwback to a couple of decades ago when light-heavyweights like Matthew Saad Muhammad, Marvin Johnson, Dwight Qawi, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and Michael Spinks were providing golden moments with gritty contenders like Yacqui Lopez, Jerry Martin, Vonzell Johnson and James Scott.
Two undefeated 175-pounders will be meeting in what should be a pick’em slugfest. Tomasz Adamek, coming off two stirring battles against Australia’s Paul Briggs, will defend his WBC title against Bad Chad Dawson. Chad left Dan Birmingham’s loaded Florida gym (Winky Wright, Jeff Lacy) for Las Vegas and Floyd Mayweather Sr.
Adamek is 31-0 with 20 knockouts. The Pole is perhaps even more impressive as a punch absorber than a puncher. He takes a shot and is not discouraged. Hell, he seems inspired when he is hit.
The southpaw Dawson will hit him. Mayweather has suggested his kid can win the fight strictly with the jab. Unlike Briggs, Dawson can move and box. But the reason I like him in this matchup is his ability to punch. I figure he can take enough out of Adamek to win the decision going away.
Our pick: Dawson.
The semifinal is a fight I wouldn’t bet with my money. There are too many intangibles with Jesus Chavez, whom I normally would pick over Julio (The Kid) Diaz. This is El Matador’s first fight in 16 months, or since the tragic night he won his IBF lightweight title in a bout that saw Leavander Johnson collapse afterwards and die a few days later.
Though the Johnson family has been very supportive of him, Chavez admits the effects of the tragedy can’t be assessed. "About it taking a toll or is it going to hinder me in any way? I will not know until I am in the fight," he said.
I have seen Rafael Ruelas virtually freeze in his first fight after the death of Jimmy Garcia. In addition to any psychological or mental handicaps that might be present, Chavez also has some physical issues. He has been one of the grittiest warriors on the circuit, giving Erik Morales hell with only one hand for the better part of 11 rounds.
During his 16-month absence, he underwent surgery on the other shoulder. Chavez had an operation in 2003 and claims he now has two new arms. There never seems to be an end to his troubles. Two months ago, he had to undergo an appendectomy.
Diaz was dominated by Jose Luis Castillo, but he is a true lightweight. Chavez has moved up well from junior light, but the bigger man is not exactly a stiff. He can fight. I find it hard to root against Chavez and impossible to bet on him. I think the best bet for this match will be munching.
Our pick: chips, medium -salsa.
There is no sense looking at a line for a third title fight on the card. Cory Spinks, now the IBF junior middleweight champion, makes the first defense of his new belt against long-in-the-tooth contender Rodney Jones.
Spinks should win handily unless he is morose over not facing any of the many stars who do not wish to fight him. Who can blame anyone for not wanting to fight a southpaw that can make them look silly?
Former cruiserweight champion Wayne Braithwaite is in one of the prelims, but King suffered a setback when a backer’s check bounced. That forced the card out of Miami the night before the -Super Bowl. The sagacious promoter was counting on picking up a lot of bored sportswriters (I’ve covered too many Super Bowls) to get some needed ink for boxing.
Not too many will be making the four-hour (one-way) drive to Kissimmee, demonstrating that the best-laid plans of mice and Kings often get loused up.