Was it really just another close fight?
September 5, 2004
“There are no coincidences.”
These four words were not only an integral theme to the science fiction movie “Signs,” starring Mel Gibson, but come as close to any other to describe what keeps going on in that otherworldly realm known as professional boxing.
In a Showtime-televised fight shown from Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, WBO heavyweight titlist Lamon Brewster – who is promoted by Don King – won a questionable 12-round split decision over Australia’s Kali Meehan.
Fight judge Adalaide Byrd saw it 114-113 for challenger Meehan, but was overruled by Dave Moretti and Nelson Vazquez, who both scored it 114-113 for Brewster. It is also interesting to note that, for some incredible reason known only to Moretti and Vazquez, they awarded Brewster the final round, a round that he needed to retain his belt, but in which he was completely ineffective, outboxed and too tired to do anything about it.
From home, I scored it 115-112 for Meehan, while ringside commentator Al Bernstein had it for Meehan by four rounds. From press row, David Avila of maxboxing.com and Kevin Iole of the Las Vegas Review-Journal had it 115-113 and 114-113, respectively, for Meehan. Graham Houston, of Boxing Monthly and Boxing Update, saw it 114-114.
So what? It was just another close fight.
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King, it should be noted, owns three of the four titlists in both the heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions, and has planned to hold a unification series in both divisions.
In his last two title defenses, IBF heavyweight beltholder and King-promoted Chris Byrd was given an atrocious and excrementitious decision over Fres Oquendo and then another bad decision over Andrew Golota. Is it just a coincidence?
Now, let’s go back to 1990.
Buster Douglas prevented what could have been one of the worst decisions that would have ever been seen in a boxing ring, when he knocked out Mike Tyson in 10 rounds in Tokyo. Somehow fight judge Ken Morita had Tyson winning a bout in which, put simply, he was getting killed. If you’ve never seen it, just watch ESPN Classic Boxing. There’s not even room for debate.
Tyson’s promoter? Don King.
King is a true inspiration. The patriot that he is, he spews out the catchphrase “Only in America” while campaigning for President Bush. This is the same character that has morphed from a former numbers runner who killed two men to a multi-millionaire promoter. The same individual that did something Al Capone couldn’t even do: beat the IRS.
Coincidentally, he has traditionally controlled fighters in boxing’s most lucrative division – the heavyweights – and unless a man knocks out King’s fighter, he gets shafted by fight judges.
Two plus two always equals four – unless you’re Don King. A coincidence?
But King is an honorable man, mind you, one who truly cares about his boxers. Ask former IBF bantamweight titlist Tim Austin, who watched his potential waste away as he fought only nine times in five years under King. Ask former heavyweight beltholders Tim Witherspoon, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson and even Byrd what a great guy King is. All have sued him at one time or another.
How much influence does King have? Ask former welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga, who was sitting ringside with King on Saturday. Not a bad deal, considering Mayorga had reportedly been in a car wreck that injured a woman recently and was nabbed at an airport in Managua, Nicaragua, after the police were looking to nab him for beating and raping a woman in a hotel room. Not bad, considering Mayorga told an Associated Press writer that Felix Trinidad might have to find another opponent for their Oct. 2 bout.
Is it a coincidence that Mayorga’s promoter is Don King?
King’s influence – or convenient lack thereof – is even felt in Northern Nevada. Reno’s “Koncrete” Kelvin Davis is promoted by King and was back in the gym four days after defeating Ezra Sellers for the IBF vacant cruiserweight title. Davis wanted to defend his title a minimum of four times a year. He wanted to travel to England to fight WBO cruiserweight titlist Johnny Nelson. He wanted to give O’Neil Bell a rematch instead of waiting for Bell to knock out Sellers in an IBF title eliminator on the Brewster-Meehan undercard.
But Davis, who has until Nov. 1 before he has a mandatory defense (against Bell), has yet to be given permission to defend his title even once.
But the worst may be yet to come. King announced on Showtime that Brewster would be defending against Evander Holyfield next. Yes, the same Holyfield, who in his last two fights, was slapped silly by the light-hitting Byrd and pummeled by blown-up middleweight James Toney.
On its face, Brewster’s win over Meehan looks lousy at best. It reflects poorly on Brewster, the WBO (which somehow had Meehan rated in its top 15 when he wasn’t even in the top 40 before) and, ultimately, King himself.
Add Holyfield’s possible title shot to the equation, and boxing has become The Twilight Zone. Where else besides boxing and science fiction can so many coincidences be the norm?
Contact Mike Houser at Houser9502@aol.com.