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Thomas Has a Surprise, KOs Weaver

Times Staff Writer

Pinklon Thomas successfully defended his World Boxing Council title Saturday night with a punch that caught more than just the challenger by surprise.

Pinky, the man known for his lovely pink trunks, lovely pink shoes and not-so-lovely jab (to absorb, that is), knocked out Mike Weaver with a powerful right hand to the head at 1:42 of the eighth round.

Weaver went down on impact, rolled to his knees and tried to get up at the count of seven but fell backward, down to the canvas, unceremoniously ending his only shot at a heavyweight title since he lost the World Boxing Assn. crown 2 1/2 years ago.

“Don’t nobody tell me he don’t have no right hand no more,” said Weaver, making sure that there was no mistake about the negativity of Thomas’ jab-only reputation.

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Weaver, whose left eye was closing from a thumb in the early rounds, said: “He just caught me with a good shot. I never even saw it coming.”

Going into the eighth round of the scheduled 12-round bout, Weaver was even on the cards of two judges and down by only one point on the card of the third. He had started slowly, even going down in the first round, but he had rallied to win the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds before seeming to tire and slow down in the seventh. Weaver is known for coasting through the middle rounds and then getting a second wind. Thomas gave him no time for that.

Thomas, who had vowed that he would not stand and slug with the man whose upper body had earned him the nickname “Hercules,” did just that in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, and paid the price for it. He had a bloody lip, a cut over his left eye, and he was losing at his own game--the battle of the jab. By the end of the fifth round, Thomas, a 220-pounder, had backed off, keeping the 221-pound Weaver at arm’s length and feinting away from Weaver’s jab.

In the eighth, still keeping his distance, Thomas used his own jab to set up the knockout punch.

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It was the first title defense for Thomas, who has spent most of his time here reminding people that he is, after all, the heavyweight champion of the world.

He didn’t have much of a stage for his first show as champion. The fight was held in the convention center at the Riviera Hotel. Not a sports arena of any sort. Not a theater-type conversion, either. Just acres of red carpeting and mirrors with rows of red chairs--enough to seat 5,700 people.

It wasn’t a sellout, (estimated attendance: 3,500), but the key people were there. Larry Holmes, the man most consider to be the heavyweight champion of the world, was ringside. Holmes sat on one side of promoter Don King, and Muhammad Ali sat on the other.

The biggest cheer of the night was for Holmes when he was introduced. When Ali was introduced, the crowd took up the familiar chant, “Ali, Ali, Ali.”

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Thomas will have to deliver a lot more knockout punches before he starts winning hearts as well as matches.

Always the gentleman, Thomas, 27, who raised his record to 26-0-1, had nothing but praise for the 32-year-old man he had just defeated. “Weaver put his punches together well inside,” Thomas said. “He’s very strong. It didn’t make no sense for me to stay in there and punch with him. . . . Weaver’s jab is nothing I underestimated. He’s a credible fighter. . . . I think he still has fights left in him.”

Weaver, who lives in Diamond Bar, had been looking forward to this title shot ever since he lost the crown to Michael Dokes on a rather bizarre TKO at 1:03 of the first round on Dec. 10, 1982. His record now is 27-11-1.

As for the future, he would only say: “I don’t know whether I’m going to say goodby to the sport or whether I’ll hang in there. I haven’t made up my mind, yet.”

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With or without Weaver as a contender, the heavyweight picture requires a wide-angle lens.

Tim Witherspoon defended his North American Boxing Federation title Saturday night with a crushing, unanimous decision over James (Bonecrusher) Smith. All three judges and the referee called it 119-109 for Witherspoon, who scored almost at will with solid right hands to the head of Smith, who somehow kept coming back for more.

Trevor Berbick took the United States Boxing Assn. title from David Bey with a TKO at 2:30 of the 11th round of a mostly uneventful scheduled 12-rounder. Berbick stunned Bey with two big left hands, backed him up against the ropes and battered him until the referee stopped it.


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