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Only bet if odds favor
King going broke

Apr 13, 2004 6:16 AM

All bets are off. My own rooting interest in Don King’s insulting show next week in New York’s Madison Square Garden is that the promoter goes broke and no one gets hurt in the very possible riot.

I won’t bet the fights because, even though I might have an opinion or two, I’ll be damned if I’ll put any pennies into Don’s pockets.

I mean, boxing is pretty unsavory at its best. This is the low point in the career of the Don of Sleaze, who already is responsible for the twin towers of why the sport has curdled fans’ interest. First, there was his blatant attempt to steal the heavyweight title back for Mike Tyson who had been knocked out by James (Buster) Douglas.

King, with his henchman, WBC president Jose Sulaiman, must have thought that by being in Tokyo no one was watching them, that they could have gotten away with the biggest daylight robbery in sports history. However, the public saw what happened on HBO and the public was outraged. King and Sulaiman had to quickly back down.

The other tower of distrust was erected at the Alamodome in San Antonio when King’s fighter, Julio Cesar Chavez, was handed a boxing lesson over 12 rounds by Pernell Whitaker. Had the fight been 15, Whitaker undoubtedly would have stopped the outclassed Mexican great.

Somehow, the WBC judges saw the fight as a draw. That was a robbery, though Whitaker himself didn’t seem to care. He had said beforehand the fight was not for the WBC welterweight title ”” "I don’t even know which closet it’s in" ”” but to establish who was the best boxer in the world, pound for pound. He said he knew that the world would be watching and it was the world’s verdict that he wanted.

Fine, I told him afterwards, "you got your pound-for-pound title, but I didn’t cash my bet on you."

After the robbery, the doorman in my Greenwich Village coop, a rabid sports fan, said to me, "That’s it for boxing — I’ll never watch another fight." Of course, he did, repeating the same pledge after King’s fighter, Evander Holyfield, was somehow given a draw against Lennox Lewis at Madison Square Garden.

No wonder the public believes most fights are fixed. It doesn’t help that Bob Arum, every time one of his fighters suffers defeat, hollers "fix." (Don’t want Bob to think just because I’m furious with Don that I’ve forgotten his name, I mean, talk about twin towers.)

King deserves to be vilified more than ever for his Golota caper ”” trying to rescue a hopeless, colorless show in which he is not getting paid up front by HBO ”” with the dregs of boxing.

Andrew (Foul Pole) Golota, King hopes, will bring in customers to the Garden even if all they expect to see is an auto wreck. They’re certainly not going to be coming out for John Ruiz and Fres Oquendo fighting for a make-believe WBA heavyweight title (let’s not get into how Ruiz got to be WBA champion again) or Wayne Braithewaite fighting Louis Azile again.

Of course, you remember Braithwaite knocked him out the first time, right? Not even the exciting but foul-mouthed Ricardo Mayorga would have sold many tickets, not pitted against Jose Rivera, a nice club fighter.

So the Fowl Pole — he gets that for quitting so many times in the middle of fights, even while ahead — was nominated. Golota should not be allowed to fight. Period. Anywhere. His last major fight, he ran out of the ring from Mike Tyson. He took off three years, then returned under the radar against two stiffs. King managed to get the New York State Athletic Commission to approve a guy that caused the Garden to close for boxing for a year. He managed to get the IBF to sanction a guy who has "never" beaten a real contender.

All Golota does is quit and start riots. Thing is, he has a chance against Chris Byrd, the IBF title holder who was desperate to fight anyone after being kept on the shelf so long by the world’s greatest promoter. Not because Golota, on his best nights, is a talented big man. But because he can always land below the belt and find the officials conveniently blocked from seeing the foul — though the Byrd camp says it was satisfied with the selection of the still-to-be-announced referee.

Byrd is 5-1. Frankly, I think the odds are shorter that something unsavory happens. Hopefully, it won’t end in a riot. Hopefully, there’ll be so few people there that it won’t matter.

Yes, and I have opinions on the other matches. I think the dogs can all bark. Ruiz even up should win, but Oquendo is a decent wrestler, too, so at the price, he probably deserves a look. Azile could turn the tables on Braithewaite because the undefeated cruiserweight champion has a suspect chin.

And who knows? I hear Rivera is in great shape, he’s always had a decent chin and Mayorga is not exactly the slickest boxer in the world. But frankly, I don’t give a damn.