Boxing / Richard Hoffer : Doesn't Take Much to Bring Back Heavyweights

Lately, the heavyweights have been hovering at Benny the Jet's gym in Reseda. It's an accident of geography and timing: A heavyweight lives nearby, needs sparring partners, a group forms. So, for now anyway, the big men loiter in a one-time bowling alley, moving about like dinosaurs.

There's Mike Weaver. The one-time heavyweight champion made millions. Lived in a big house in Diamond Bar, drove some long kind of car--a Stutz Bearcat comes to mind. Still has the car. Lives in a Woodland Hills condo now. Lawyer got the money, lots of it. It's in court.

He's back in the gym, his career at a start-over point since Bonecrusher Smith cold-cocked him in the first round in April.

"Happened before," said a laughing Weaver, a man far too kind for his profession.

He's getting ready to go to Fayetteville, N.C., to fight Razor Ruddock on Aug. 23. What does he know about Razor Ruddock? Weaver, who once took fights on hours' notice, laughs some more. "Nothing."

Weaver, who had been red-hot after a second-round knockout of Carl (The Truth) Williams, believes he will get the winner of the main event, a fight between Smith and David Bey. And then he'll be red-hot again. That has happened before, too.

Then there's Monte Masters. He used to be heavyweight champion of the World Athletic Assn., administered by his father-in-law, Pat O'Grady, in that acknowledged fight capital, Oklahoma City. Sounds funny, he admits.

"But I didn't marry into it," he said. "I was champion first."

Nevertheless, when he split with his wife, his title was vacated. That's the first known instance of that, although men have lost more in divorce proceedings.

The papers had some fun all the same: "O'Grady KOs Masters."

Masters was out of boxing for two years. Did some logging in Oklahoma, some construction work. "But I got boxing in my blood," said Masters, 30, as rugged looking as, well, any rodeo rider. "I'll give it two more years."

He knows the ins and outs of boxing, anyway. Believes he fought the same guy three times, under a variety of names, in commission-less Oklahoma. So, he has no illusions about his 29-2 record, or one-time title. Still, once three years ago, on three weeks' notice, he did beat Tony Fulilangi, the Mike Tyson of his day, not to mention the WAA heavyweight champ. Something there.

"But then I got notice O'Grady wanted me to defend against Randy Cobb, on the condition I give him his cut of $7,500 from the Fulilangi fight," Masters said. "I was going to get $15,000 for Cobb, but with his 50-50 cut from that, I'd be fighting for zero. That's bad business, from my point of view."

Lost the title again , no punches thrown.

So Masters is back, sparring with Weaver, worrying about a fight with a former football player named Nick DeLong. "Is he tough?" asks Masters. "I'm kinda nervous. Sometimes I'm shaking so bad I can hardly touch gloves in the ring." He pretends to vibrate like a piano wire.

The heavyweights come and go, drifting about the gym, wrapping fists, adjusting headgear, hitching this or that. Here comes Mark Wills, who recently upset Greg Page in the Forum tournament and who stands to win $50,000 if he beats Larry Alexander in the tournament finale.

This day Wills is baby-sitting. His 4-month-old daughter, Domonique, is sitting in the crook of his massive arm like a tiny toy. "She watches me do sit-ups in the morning," says Mr. Mom. "She cracks up."

Wills took three years' worth of child development courses at various colleges, mostly so that he could deal with his 6-year-old son, he says. "I worked at Child's World in Tarzana, other places," he says. "But now I'm dedicating myself to boxing."

Domonique's pacifier has slipped to his huge lap, and she is, sort of, drooling. "What's this," says Wills, child developer, surprised. He retrieves the pacifier and holds it up. "She dropped her mouthpiece," he explains.

Boxing Notes

Beleaguered Bobby Chacon, his California boxing license suspended indefinitely while he awaits sentencing on parole violations, is moving back to the L.A. area. Word is, he's seeking bouts elsewhere, anywhere from Tijuana to Australia. . . . Rene Arredondo, who lost his World Boxing Council junior welterweight title in Japan several weeks ago, has joined a long list of victims done in by Mickey Finn. Arredondo, who was stunned in one round, claimed that he suffered food poisoning. That's reminiscent of Trevor Berbick, now WBC heavyweight titlist, who said he was drugged before a disappointing fight earlier in his career. And what of Harold Johnson, who lost his light-heavyweight title in 1955 when his orange was doped? . . . Fighters do it with their gloves on: A couple of unsavory incidents lately, in which disappointed boxers have taken pokes at everybody but their opponents. A couple of weeks ago, Erick Madrid, upset after a loss against a last-minute replacement--the only fighter ever to have beaten him, strolled over to portly promoter Harry Kabakoff at the Universal Sheraton and took a swing at him. More damaging, Madrid kicked Kabakoff out of his house. That event followed on the heels of an incident in Detroit, where a boxer named J.L. Ivey socked a woman judge after a decision. Hey, guys: the fellow in the ring--hit him .

Oh, this sounds like big box office. Undefeated Mike Tyson, coming off a 30-second razing of Marvis Frazier, steps into the ring Aug. 17 with Jose Ribalta in Atlantic City. Ribalta, a 6-6 Cuban, not only got beat by Frazier but suffered this appalling evaluation by him--"a journeyman." It's the second fight of Tyson's three-fight contract with HBO. . . . Tyson then has a Sept. 6 date on the undercard of Michael Spinks' International Boxing Federation title defense against heavyweight Steffan Tangstead, the only fighter we know of from a country--Norway--where boxing is outlawed. . . . Tyson, the division's premier attraction, is the subject of almost every boxing rumor these days. Strongest is that he'll fight former champion Larry Holmes, Nov. 6, probably in Las Vegas, probably for promoter Bob Arum. Holmes, who had said he would never fight in Las Vegas because of the judging there, is no stranger to hypocrisy, of course. He had earlier said he'd fight for Arum as soon as Arum turned black. . . . Holmes, who is also mentioned as an opponent for Olympian Tyrell Biggs, appears to be sliding into the stepping-stone category, the kind of fighter who can validate the up and comers. Holmes, we're afraid, will be around for years. . . . Meanwhile, Biggs will fight Rod Smith at Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum Thursday. . . . Olympian Henry Tillman, not quite so undefeated as his 1984 teammates, will come back from being stopped by Bert Cooper to fight Cedric Parsons in Las Vegas, Aug. 19.

Title defenses: IBF lightweight champion Jimmy Paul will fight Darryl Tyson, Friday, in Detroit. Mike McCallum, World Boxing Assn. junior middleweight champion, will defend Aug. 23 against Julian Jackson in Miami Beach. Same day, WBA light-heavyweight champion Marvin Johnson will defend in Bermuda against Jean Marie Emebe. Next day, IBF champion Buster Drayton will fight former champion Davey Moore in France. In London, WBC light-heavyweight titlist Dennis Andries will fight Tony Sibson Sept. 10. WBA junior featherweight champion Victor Callejas will fight Louis Espinoza, Sept. 19, in Madison Square Garden. WBA lightweight champion Livingstone Bramble will fight Edwin Rosario, and WBC lightweight champion Hector Camacho will fight Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Sept. 26, in Miami. Winners, so Don King's plan goes, eventually will fight for undisputed status in 1987. Donald Curry, world welterweight champ, is to be tested by Lloyd Honeyghan, Sept. 27, in Atlantic City.

Local bantamweight Frankie Duarte, who just won $50,000 in a local bantamweight tournament, is eyeing bigger stakes. It's not worked out yet, but plans call for Duarte to challenge Bernardo Pinango for WBA bantamweight title, possibly on a Nov. 6 card promoted by Arum in Las Vegas. Pinango is the guy who beat Gaby Canizales, who is the guy who retired Richie Sandoval. That card, which Caesars Palace will present, is the subject of some confusion. First choice to headline it is still the Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard fight. But Hagler has kept a lot of folks hanging with his retirement talk. If you couldn't have that fight, you might have Holmes-Tyson. Or a Thomas Hearns-James Kinchen fight. And on the undercard? How about a rematch between WBA featherweight champion Stevie Cruz and Barry McGuigan? "All possibilities," said Bob Halloran of Caesars World.

Other locals: Unbeaten middleweight Michael Nunn, who just beat Charlie Boston, will fight Mike Tinley, Sept. 19, in Atlantic City. From the same Ten Goose stable in Reseda, Walter Sims is scheduled to headline a Country Club show, Aug. 26. Monte Masters will fight Nick DeLong in a heavyweight attraction at the Irvine Marriott, Aug. 18. Also on the card, unbeaten Lee Sentinella, who will fight Tony Chicoine. At the Forum this Wednesday, Andre Sandoval will fight Alex Byrd and John Sinegal will fight Joey Oliveras in lightweight tournament action. Also on the card, a bantamweight attraction with Kenny Mitchell and Lucillo Nolascio and a super-bantamweight 10 with Darell Thigpen and Jorge Diaz.

Marty Denkin was named assistant executive officer to State Athletic Commissioner Ken Gray. He'll be based in Los Angeles. This was done on the condition that Denkin not officiate any California fights, although he can take assignments elsewhere. Not only is Denkin's spot on the eight-member commission open, but so is Brad Pye's. He has served the maximum two turns.

Whither Wimpy: Heavyweight Wimpy Halstead, the bald motor mouth who recently made a mini-splash in the Forum tournament, has not only withdrawn from their tournament but also from Southern California, his coming gig with David Letterman notwithstanding. He has left to pursue a career with Don King. Good luck. Meanwhile, Monte Masters was remembering how Wimpy got his name, back in Oklahoma City where both began with promoter Pat O'Grady.

"We're sparring and I hit him a good one and he starts crying, cussing me," Masters said. "So I knock him down about seven-eight times and there he is, laying face down in the ring, pounding the canvas with his fists and feet, crying like a baby. So we called him Wimpy."

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