We’re offering clues
to ‘unknown’ card

Apr 27, 2004 5:31 AM

Here’s a fairly safe wager for you: Betcha the next guy you meet has never heard of Ezra Sellers or Kelvin Davis. Then, parlay that with the next five having no clue as to either Evans Ashira or Maselino Masoe.

That’s why there’s no action on next Saturday’s premier cable TV show, not that it really matters unless you’re like me and probably will be looking to get even after the Kentucky Derby of horse racing that day.

No sense holding a major fight on the first Saturday of May in this country. Showtime certainly isn’t trying to compete for space in the daily sports sections during the week with its two "title" bouts ”” Sellers-Davis for a vacant cruiserweight title (don’t ask me which, who cares) and Ashira-Masoe, neither of whom I’ve heard of, for the WBA middleweight phony belt.

Bernard Hopkins holds the "super" WBA 160-pound championship; this is to replace William Joppy as the minor "champ." Dandy Dan Rafael, the USA Today guru who invented boxing four years ago, says they could be two good scrapes. Fine. This is a gaming paper. We have no interest in good scrapes if you can’t make a buck on them.

But there is no fear of us running out of good scrapes you can bet on. The Saturday between the Derby and Preakness, May 8, there will be two possibly spectacular bouts on HBO, but I’m not ready to decipher Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. The featherweight title fight ”” and let me say this, Pacquiao is the champion despite having no belts to Marquez’s two.

Pacquiao knocked out Marco Antonio Barrera last year, Period. End argument. This has "fight of the year" written all over it, and Bob Arum, that wonderfully warm and caring promoter, has given fight fans a terrific bonus by matching his Puerto Rican wundernino, Miguel Cotto, with tough-as-nails 140-pound contender Lovemore Ndou. So you don’t want to miss next week’s thrilling editions.

Setting the record straight

Meanwhile, let me get a couple of things off my chest. First, the rumors of a betting coup or "fix" surrounding Wladimir Klitschko’s collapse against Lamon Brewster. German TV was asking if we had heard the report that Wladimir’s ice was poisoned or tampered with. Rich Hoffer of Sports Illustrated wanted to know "was the ice too cold or was it too warm?"

"A lot of fights are won and lost in the ice bucket," he said thoughtfully.

Now, would I put it past a dishonorable man to make a huge bet on Brewster, driving his odds down from plus $7 to plus $2.20, and somehow taint the fight, knowing that raising a half-million for George W. Bush’s campaign fund pretty much assures there will be no Federal investigation? No, but then, how does that explain the thin ice Wladimir was on when he collapsed against Ross Purritty? And was it the ice that was cracked or his chin by Corrie Sanders 13 months ago?

No, I think Wladimir is one of those talented kids who doesn’t have a great chin, doesn’t use defense to compensate and unravels under pressure. Now, if blood and urine tests prove me wrong, okay, then there was a dire conspiracy. Frankly, I don’t believe it.

Okay, you never heard of Ezra Sellers? I have. Once saw him knock out Laila Ali’s husband, Johnny (Ya Ya) McClain, in the first round. But my favorite story about the former Roy Jones Jr. protégé from Pensacola, Fl., was when he was disabled for a year by the man who might have been the savior of the heavyweight division, except he’s a nut case under lock and key somewhere in Nevada.

Sellers was a sparring partner for Ike Ibeabuchi. They were sparring in a Phoenix ring set on the floor when the Florida kid noticed a small cut on Ibeabuchi’s face. He immediately stopped and while trainer Curtis Cokes and an aged assistant looked at Ibeabuchi, Sellers left the ring and took off his gloves. He reached into his gym bag, parked alongside the ring, and took out his wedding ring, putting it on. Soon, curious to see the damage around Ibeabuchi’s eye, he went back into the ring.

The mad man saw the wedding ring and screamed that’s what cut him and jumped on the startled Sellers, tearing up a knee that would keep him sidelined for a year. When the 70ish assistant trainer tried to pull Ibeabuchi off Sellers, the crazed fighter smacked him, too. Sellers left the gym, still in his trunks, hailed a passing cab and went to the police ”” though that’s not why Ibeabuchi is locked up.

He allegedly beat up some "dancer" in Vegas in his hotel room and remember, he was the guy who when his lady broke up with him, grabbed her son and drove straight into a wall, giving the kid severe head damage.

See. Mention a name and I usually remember a story, but not with many details anymore.

I’ve seen too many punches.