BOXING / EARL GUSTKEY : Zavala Shows Drive of a Future Champion in Beating Openio


The Forum boxing staff says it has a star in the making in super-bantamweight Rudy Zavala.

In his first tough fight Monday at the Forum, Zavala showed, in order, brains, defense and power when he put away a troublesome Filipino brawler, Virgilio Openio.

Zavala, from Rosemead, is 12-0 with 10 knockouts, and his manager, Herb Stone, wants to match him with former super-bantamweight champion Paul Banke.


At 22, Zavala seems ready for just about anyone at 122 pounds.

Openio, more muscular and seemingly a harder hitter than Zavala, pretty much had his way over the first two rounds and at least twice seemed close to putting Zavala in serious trouble. But Zavala showed good defensive instincts, carrying his hands high and picking off many of Openio’s punches.

He also coolly studied his opponent, considering ways to turn the tide. He had lost the first two rounds, but he didn’t panic. There were no wild lunges, no wild blows.

By early in the third round, Zavala apparently had boxed his way into a more suitable rhythm. With a single punch, he changed the direction of the fight. He backed Openio onto the ropes, where he came up the middle with a quick right uppercut and hurt Openio.

Openio fled the ropes and continued backing up for virtually the rest of the fight. Now the handsome, poised Zavala was in charge. He decked his rattled foe later in the third round, again in the fifth. He stopped the badly beaten Openio in the sixth.

Next for Zavala and Stone is a meeting Tuesday with Forum matchmaker Tony Curtis, when they will learn if the Forum can put together a Banke-Zavala bout.

In the meantime, Zavala will continue a daily freeway commute he hopes will take him to a turnoff that says “Championship: Next Right.”

“Rudy lives in Rosemead and arrives on the beach at Huntington Beach every morning at 6:30 for six miles of roadwork,” Stone said.

“After running, he goes home, rests--and then drives back to the Westminster Gym for his boxing work. Then he goes home again. The kid is a dream to work with. He’s never been late, works very hard.

“He’s a smart kid, too. He’s developing a real feel for what he has to do in the ring.”

Of course, he would rather lose his “feel” for the freeways. Soon, he will move to Westminster and shorten the drive he hopes will take him to a championship.

Mike Trainer, the lawyer-manager who guided Sugar Ray Leonard’s $100-million career from start to finish, says it really is finished.

Van Nuys promoter Dan Goossen said recently that he wanted to promote a rematch between Leonard and Terry Norris of Alpine, Calif. Norris beat Leonard decisively in New York last February, and Leonard announced his retirement that night.

“Ray is retired,” Trainer said. “I told Dan that, and I told him he damages his credibility when he throws something like that around. Then he said: ‘Can I send you a contract?’

“This whole thing is like a UFO sighting. I never even had a conversation with Ray about another fight.

“The day after that came out, a Washington Post guy called me, wanting to talk to Ray. I told him: ‘I can’t find Ray for you. He’s either swimming, playing tennis, or having his golf lesson.’ ”

Snickering continues over the World Boxing Council’s recent ranking of former champion Larry Holmes, who has won three recent fights against stiffs in his comeback. The WBC ranked him ninth, leading some to suspect the organization has its eye on a possible fat sanction instead of an honest rating.

Bob Bordier of Rosemead, who publishes his own boxing ratings, ranks nearly 200 fighters in every weight division. Recently, he ranked Holmes 126th. That was before last Saturday, when Holmes knocked out Michael Greer, whom Bordier had rated 46th.

One of Holmes’ previous opponents, Tim Anderson, had been rated 142nd, and the other, Eddie Gonzales, had not made Bordier’s list of the top 194 heavyweights.

Boxing Notes

Yet another candidate for the executive officer’s job with the California Athletic Commission: Steve Waldman, the No. 2 man on the New York boxing commission staff. . . . About 200 amateur boxers from throughout the United States are expected to box in this weekend’s Blue and Gold tournament at the East Valley Boys and Girls Club at Baldwin Park. . . . South African boxers will be barred from amateur boxing’s World Championships in Sydney, Australia, Nov. 14-24. AIBA, the sport’s governing body, said it wasn’t satisfied that the sport in South Africa was run by a multiracial organizing group.

Tyson watch: Don’t hold your breath on a possible postponement of the Nov. 8 Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield fight, if Tyson is indicted on the Indianapolis rape allegation pending against him. The Nevada Athletic Commission rule book has a section saying the commission can suspend a licensee if he “is arrested or convicted on a charge involving moral turpitude.” But a commission staffer said the clause has never been invoked in the case of an indictment.

Razor Ruddock, winless in two fights against Tyson, has by implication leveled a steroid-use charge at the former champion. Writes Wallace Matthews in Newsday: “Ruddock and his camp think Tyson wears an ‘S’ on his chest, and it doesn’t stand for Superman.” Matthews quoted Ruddock as saying: “I know it sounds like sour grapes, but how could I hit him that hard and not knock him out?” Funny, only two weeks ago, one of Ruddock’s trainers, Art Miles, said Ruddock couldn’t hit Tyson hard enough to hurt him because Ruddock’s jaw was broken. “When a heavyweight loses his bite, he loses his power,” he said.

The San Pedro Boys’ Club will hold a 10-bout amateur show Sept. 14, beginning at 2 p.m. . . . Light-heavyweights Roy Gumbs and Ivan Rukavina will meet Sept. 7 at Fiscalini Field in San Bernardino.