If the AMA and Howard Cosell ever succeed in having the sport of boxing banned, can we at least keep the press conferences?
Every time I get down in the dumps, bored with the sporting scene, I check through my mail to see if Don King is in town to promote a fight. King throws a mean press conference.
You know Don King--the man who gets a standing ovation from his own hair.
Last week, I was in luck. King was at the Beverly Hills Hotel promoting a fight card that will feature people named The Easton Assassin, Machine Guns, Dynamite, Tex, Bonecrusher and TNT.
Mostly, those are not their given names.
If you fight on one of King’s cards and don’t have a nickname, he gives you one.
“Don King gave me my nickname,” said David (Hand Grenades) Bey, who will fight Larry (The Easton Assassin) Holmes. “He said when I hit people, they explode.”
So if you’re sitting ringside, fans, wear a rain coat.
Also, all of Don King’s fights have titles. This one is being called “Perseverance . . . the Grand Finale,” in honor of this being Holmes’ positively last prizefight, unless something totally unexpected happens, like his being offered money to fight again.
The NFL could save itself a lot of time and money by hiring King. He could wrap up those two weeks of Super Bowl pregame hype and hysteria into one neat press conference.
King would have named the last Super Bowl “Meet Your Fate ‘Neath the Golden Gate,” and it would have featured Joe (Heat-Seeking Missiles) Montana vs. Dan (ICBM) Marino.
King had less spectacular stock to work with Wednesday, but he never lets that stand in the way of a good time. In fact, the worse the card, the harder he works.
Introducing one of the young fighters, King said grandly, “Here’s a young man who is expiring to greatness.”
Obviously not a fighter to bet on.
King had Holmes on hand, of course, but Holmes dresses like an accountant and spends most of his time trying to convince everyone that he really isn’t too old to fight.
Before introducing Holmes, King cued a videotape featuring action in the final round of several of Holmes’ fights. Holmes is shown battering defenseless, wobbly-legged stiffs as their cornermen frantically wave towels.
That clip could be Exhibit A in the AMA’s case against boxing, but King’s gleeful narration made it fun.
“There’s Hercules Weaver,” King chortled as Holmes whaled upon the head of Mike Weaver. “There’s the Acorn (Earnie Shavers) . . . Big, Bad Leroy Jones . . . Neon Leon (Spinks) . . . Looney (Gerry) Cooney. . . . “
The clip is less a testimony to Holmes’ power than it is a montage of lousy opponents. Holmes among today’s heavyweights is like the Lakers playing in the Pac-10. Only his age, 35, and deteriorating skills make his fights interesting now.
Holmes is not an extremely colorful guy. You don’t want to build a press conference around him. Fortunately, King brought along Randall (Tex) Cobb, whom no press conference should be without.
Cobb showed up wearing a battered leather jacket with a rebel flag sewn on the back. No shirt. Sweatpants. Camouflage baseball cap with a “U.S. Border Patrol” patch. Toothpick. Stubble thick enough to sand the stucco off a medium-sized condo.
He looked as if his breath might have the same effect on people as David Bey’s fists.
Standing behind Cobb was a large bodyguard, wearing shades and a T-shirt, drinking a beer, spitting tobacco and scratching himself. Try doing all that at once.
Cobb isn’t a great fighter, by any means, but he is not without crowd-pleasing skills. He still has incredible range. Any punch you can throw, he can catch. He’s the Willie Mays of boxing.
Despite the terrible beating he has taken over the years, Cobb’s brain cells haven’t been killed, merely rearranged in an entertaining pattern.
In his turn at the mike, Cobb delivered a rambling, profane, semi-crazed, semi-hilarious monologue about fightin’ and partyin’ and takin’ Don King’s money. Anyone Cobb didn’t offend with his attire, he took care of with his speech.
Someone asked Cobb if there’s any way he would ever fight Holmes again.
“If he’d pay for the party, bleep yeah!”
When Holmes bragged about how his young running partner couldn’t keep up with him during roadwork, Cobb growled: “Get him out of the wheelchair.”
Cobb talked of the party that will follow his fight with Michael (Dynamite) Dokes. Someone asked who’s invited.
“Earth,” Cobb said.
For him, that’s a long-distance phone call.
Did I mention when and where the fight card will take place? Darn, I didn’t, and I’m out of space.
Except for enough to say that I left the hotel feeling good, uplifted once again by a Don King press conference.