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BOXING : Nothing Will Keep Financial Windfall From Happening

NEWSDAY

In the tangled web that passes for law and order out here in the Wild Wild West, one thing seems clear: Neither desert wind nor torrential rain nor the wrath of Bob Arum and 250,000 women is going to stop Las Vegas from reaping the financial windfall that will come with the Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson fight.

Although some -- present company included -- believe the prudent thing to do would be to delay the fight until after Tyson’s rape trial in January, none of those people, surprise surprise, are in Nevada.

Nor are they -- real surprise -- among the leaders of the various chapters of the National Organization for Women (NOW), whose expected outrage Arum was banking on to overthrow the most profitable fight that he has not a nickel’s worth of interest in.

And the Nevada Athletic Commission, that august body of five that has the power, if it wishes, to invoke a “moral turpitude” rule on its books to yank Tyson’s license, already has decided to deal with the controversy thusly -- it will hold a meeting next week at which the issue will not even be discussed.

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So much for the doom, gloom and outrage predicted in the wake of Tyson’s rape indictment Monday. Right now, it looks as if it would take a miracle -- or a natural disaster, if you stand to make a profit off the match -- for the Holyfield-Tyson bandwagon to be derailed.

For starters, take the commission. Please. Its commissioners are Dr. James Nave, a veterinarian who is the outgoing chairman; Luther Mack, the owner of four McDonald’s franchises, who takes over as chairman next month, giving him plenty of time to practice taking bows in the ring before Tyson and Holyfield meet Nov. 8; Dr. Elias Ghanem, not only a former chairman but also Tyson’s personal physician and the first vice president of the WBC; Nat Carasali, a casino owner from Reno and Bruce Layne, an insurance man from Las Vegas.

First of all, it takes a request from just one of these gentlemen to have a hearing on the matter. Then, an open meeting is held, after which a vote is taken. But it will never get that far, because none of the commissioners thinks a hearing is necessary, and besides, the state attorney general has recommended that the commission do nothing.

Oh yes, the attorney general’s name is John Redlein, and he doubles as the commission’s legal counsel. These guys wear so many hats they could use Bullwinkle moose as a hatrack.

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“The old adage is ‘innocent until proven guilty,”’ Mack said. “Right now, we’re not going to do anything. The fight is going to go on as usual.”

Mack admitted, however, that cancellation of the fight would be a major economic blow to Las Vegas, a blow he would not want to administer. “Naturally, I’m prejudiced, because I want the fight to happen in Nevada.”

Nave agreed with Mack. “My feeling is there is no need to have a meeting,” he said. “Innocent until proven guilty, you know. But certainly the crime that Tyson’s been charged with is one of the worst.”

Layne, one of the newcomers, said, “This is a tough call, but I think it’s premature for the commission to take a position on canceling the fight. You’ve got the economic issues, but you’ve also got to do what’s right.”

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Carasali did not return a phone call. Ghanem never returns calls from Newsday because we have documented his oh-so-cozy relationship with Tyson, King and WBC president Jose Sulaiman, who yesterday released a statement reading, in part: “The WBC has full confidence ... in Mike Tyson’s innocence.” It is safe to assume what Dr. Ghanem’s recommendation will be.

Of course, the commission might be forced to reconsider if pressure were brought to bear upon it from an outside force, like, say, the quarter-million members of NOW nationwide. Coincidentally, Arum, in a burst of self-righteous outrage -- or wishful thinking -- has been predicting “massive demonstrations” by “a coalition of women’s groups” that would force$either Nevada or TVKO or Caesars Palace to pull the plug on Holyfield-Tyson.

The best that can be said about Arum’s prediction is that it’s a good thing he doesn’t read palms for a living. A call to the NOW national headquarters in Washington elicited only an angry response, all right -- directed at Arum.

“We don’t like being manipulated by a boxing promoter,” said spokeswoman Rosemary Dempsey, no relation to Jack. “He doesn’t give a (damn) about violence against women, but he sees a situation he can capitalize on and that angers me. We’re not going to take his bait and say the fight should be postponed or canceled. That just trivializes the issue of rape.”

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A call to the Las Vegas NOW chapter was answered by a machine. No human called back. But a call to the New York chapter provided perhaps the most telling response to the public’s reaction to the Holyfield-Tyson controversy. “The only calls we’ve gotten,” said Melody Bahan, president of NOW New York, “are from irate boxing fans who are afraid that we are somehow going to have the fight canceled. And one guy called to say he had an extra ticket and asked if I wanted to go with him.”

So much for protests. Be kind to that next little old lady you see carrying a picket sign against Holyfield-Tyson. It might just be Bob Arum in drag.

Tyson’s problems also will not stop him from serving as color commentator on Showtime’s doubleheader Saturday night, featuring Julio Cesar Chavez defending his WBC junior welterweight title against Lonnie Smith and WBC middleweight champ Julian Jackson defending against Dennis Milton, a four-time New York Golden Gloves champion from the Bronx. Jackson has 39 KOs in his 41 wins.

Another 20-buck Friday from TVKO Friday night: Tony Lopez-Brian Mitchell for Lopez’ IBF junior lightweight title, Meldrick Taylor-Ernie (Not Julio) Chavez for Taylor’s WBA welterweight title, and Mark Breland-Jorge Vaca (which means “cow” in Spanish) for nothing special except to see if Breland can fight as a middleweight. All this and Joe (The Do) Goossen, too. ... . Glenwood Brown gets his long-awaited title shot, meeting former champ Maurice Blocker for the IBF welterweight title vacated by Simon Brown, Oct. 4 in Atlantic City. ... The lovely Lovey DuBoef becomes the third Mrs. Bob Arum Saturday in Los Angeles -- unless, of course, Arum’s promotional rivals organize some kind of mass protest outside Ms. DuBoef’s home, where the nuptials will take place.

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