On a lonely stretch of U.S. 395 in California's Mojave Desert, between Kramer Junction and Ridgecrest, is a most inhospitable place, the federal correctional facility at Boron.
What does a desert penitentiary have to do with the Mike Tyson-Tony Tubbs heavyweight championship fight here Monday, which is Sunday night in the States?
Some boxing people here this week think one of the Boron inmates is, in effect, Tubbs' manager.
Harold Rossfields Smith, a flashy boxing promoter-manager, suddenly appeared on the boxing scene a decade ago, waving extraordinary sums of money in front of young boxing prospects, including Tubbs.
The Smith story went into the freezer in June 1982, when he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $30,000 for conspiring to embezzle $21.3 million from Wells Fargo Bank. At the time, it was the largest computer fraud case in U.S. banking history.
Mike Love and Richie Giachetti, Tubbs' estranged manager and trainer, alleged Tuesday that Smith, through his wife, Lee, is managing Tubbs.
"It's (Harold) Smith, he's the bust-up," Love said, explaining how he came to be Tubbs' ex-manager.
"See, Harold has always had Tony's ear," he said. "I paid Lee $1,200 a week to be Tony's publicist between last April and December (at Tubbs' request). That was over $40,000. The problem (with Tubbs) is, when he has a problem, he goes to Harold with it."
Lee Smith, in Tokyo with Tubbs, denied that her husband is Tubbs' manager. Charles Chin, agent for pro football running back Eric Dickerson, is supposed to have replaced Love as Tubbs' manager, but Smith denied that, too.
"I'm insulted, as a woman, by the inference that I can't handle men like Giachetti and Love," she said. "Harold is not Tony's manager, and neither is Charles. Charles is Tony's adviser. This is all terribly difficult for Tony, to be training for a championship fight and have all this going on around him."
Smith also denied she earned $40,000 from Love as the boxer's publicist.
"He paid me a salary, but it wasn't anything like $40,000," she said.
The volatile Giachetti, who was trainer of former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, said he and Love had a falling-out with Tubbs over the fighter's training schedule, or lack of same.
Love said: "I wanted Tony to go into training for Tyson immediately after his last fight, in September. He wouldn't do it. I set him up with training sessions with a good strength coach, Dr. Leroy Perry, and Tony just stopped going because he said (the sessions) were too tough. So when I started to assert myself with Tony, I was out, too."
Giachetti said: "Before I went with Tony, he called Larry (Holmes) for advice about me. Larry told him: 'If you want a yes-man for your trainer, you don't want Richie. But if you want someone who'll kick you in the butt, motivate you and force you to get in shape, you want Richie.'
"So I tried to kick him in the . . . , get him in shape, and Tony didn't like that. It's a shame. The guy has real ability. But I don't think he's in good shape; I hear he's just going through the motions in the gym."
Tubbs and his current trainer, Odelle Hadley, dismissed the Love-Giachetti controversy.
"That's all past history," Tubbs said. "I don't even want to talk about that."
Instead, he mostly listened and giggled while Hadley talked fearlessly of how badly his man would beat the heavily favored Tyson Monday.
"We're gonna beat the . . . out of this man," Hadley said. "We want him carried out on a stretcher, with every bone in his body broken. We want him beat up so bad he'll be cryin' like a baby when they carry him out."
Hadley couldn't offer a plausible scenario as to how his tiger will achieve this conquest, other than to say: "Tyson gets a lot of weight into his punches because he has strong legs and he comes flying in there at you. But when he misses, he's way off balance . . . and that's when Tony's gonna step in there and crack his . . . "
While the Tubbs' camp wallows in dissension, all is love and kisses in Tyson's camp.
Actress Robin Givens, who married Tyson in early February, came here with him five weeks ago, then left to take care of business in Los Angeles.
She will begin shooting in late April for a three-hour TV movie, "Women of Brewster Place."
Before she left, though, Givens was easily the hit of a news conference. After the fighters had left, she stayed to talk cheerfully with about 20 English-speaking reporters, who learned that:
--There is a little Tyson on the way.
--Tyson's toughest opponent was his mother-in-law.
--There is no prenuptial agreement.
--The heavyweight champion takes out the garbage. Well, he took it out once.
--Tyson wants to break Rocky Marciano's 49-0 record, then retire.
Published reports in New York have it that the Tysons are expecting, but neither Tyson nor Givens has announced it officially. Givens danced around such questions as, "When is the little one due?" with answers like: "Ha! You're trying to trap me, right?"
But when someone asked what the little Tyson will be called, she answered: "Mike said if we have a boy, he wants to name it after Cus (D'Amato, his late foster father and trainer). We haven't decided on girls' names."
Of their dating days, Givens said that her mother, Ruth, established the ground rules.
"She said to Mike: 'You take my daughter out, you bring her back the same night, you hear?' " she said. "My mother's acceptance of Mike came later, and it had to. I never would have married Mike had Mother not approved of him."
One reporter asked: "Robin, is there a prenuptial agreement?"
"No, there isn't, and I'm amazed anyone would think there is," she said.
On domesticity, she said: "I don't cook. Well, I did, shortly after we got married. And Mike did take out the garbage once."
When asked how long she wants Tyson to fight, she said it's the champion's decision.
"I enjoy acting, and I know he'd have some real problems with me if he told me to quit my job," she said. "Mike gets bored easily. . . . I don't know how long he wants to do this. But he has talked about wanting to break Rocky Marciano's record, then retiring.
"It's very hard for me to reconcile the Mike Tyson I see in a boxing ring with the man I'm married too. I mean, he's so awesome in there. And yet, this is someone I wrestle with. He's a very kind, sensitive person away from boxing. He knows he's a great fighter, but he wants to be a great human being, too.
"Mike is still unfolding to me, I'm learning more about him all the time. He's very possessive. When men look at me, it makes him angry. Mike is also vulnerable, and sometimes naive. I had to explain to him why some people try to cling to him," she said, referring to money.