BOXING / EARL GUSTKEY : Hopes for Holyfield-Tyson Bout March On

The Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson fight is not dead.

Many were wringing their hands and wailing when the Nov. 8 fight was postponed, fearing the worst: That if Tyson lost his pending rape trial and served a long prison term, the two best heavyweights of the generation would never meet in the ring.

Actually, the people who put together the Nov. 8 match believe the fight will take place in the spring, providing Tyson's Jan. 27 trial date in Indianapolis is postponed, as many expect. The November show was postponed after Tyson suffered a rib injury in training.

"The fight could be held in March or April (at Caesars Palace), providing there is a delay in the Tyson trial," said Dan Duva of Main Events, the fight's promoter.

Besides being Holyfield's promoter, Duva is also a lawyer.

"I think there's a better than even chance the fight will happen in March or April," he said. "My whole basis in believing that is that I believe there will be a trial delay. Very rarely do trials start on time."

It has been reported that Tyson's legal team has complained of delays in securing grand jury transcripts in the case, in which an 18-year-old woman charges that Tyson raped her last July in Indianapolis.

Caesars World, parent company of Caesars Palace, is reluctant to discuss the status of Tyson's legal problems, but has said that new Holyfield-Tyson dates are available in March.

"We would like to try and put it back together," said Rich Rose, president of Caesars World Sports.

Shelly Finkel, who had begun building the pay-per-view network for the bout, also seems confident he can do it again. "I have a general sense of what's going on out there, and my feeling is Mike's trial will not start on Jan. 27, that we will have a chance to put it together again," he said.

Targeted dates are March 6 and March 20.

Another Mike Tyson book is out, one that tries to demolish much of the mythology connected with the former heavyweight champion's early years. It also portrays his first manager, Jim Jacobs, as a manipulative figure who defrauded Tyson with a 1988 contract extension.

"Mike Tyson: Money, Myth and Betrayal" is a riveting, well-paced tale of Tyson's journey through an unhappy life that began in an unheated Brooklyn slum apartment where his destitute, alcoholic mother fed him flour and water.

The author, Montieth Illingworth, flounders a bit on the subject of Cus D'Amato, the curmudgeon who pulled a 13-year-old Tyson out of an Upstate New York reform school in 1980 and taught him to box.

Legend has it that D'Amato saw in Tyson one last opportunity to develop another heavyweight champion--he had Floyd Patterson in the 1950s. But here, D'Amato, who died in 1985, gets knocked by Illingworth for being ego-driven.

Huh? Since when did anyone, particularly in boxing, do anything that wasn't ego-driven?

Also, Illingworth bought the old hogwash that Tyson had no idea Jacobs was deathly ill when in February of 1988 he signed contract extensions making Jacobs' partner, Bill Cayton, the fighter's manager in the event of Jacobs' death.

Fact is, everyone in boxing, including Tyson, knew Jacobs was seriously ill by January of 1988. At the Tyson-Larry Holmes fight that month, Jacobs was ashen, and had lost considerable weight and energy. His appearance shocked nearly everyone. He died of leukemia two months later. Some of the highlights:

----Illingworth effectively debunks much of the legend associated with the D'Amato-Tyson relationship by pointing out that Tyson never visited D'Amato in the hospital, during his last days of fighting pneumonia. Neither did Jacobs, who was D'Amato's roommate for 10 years.

----Bob Arum, Don King's longtime promotional rival, muffed a chance to wrap up Tyson in 1987, when Tyson was still an ESPN fighter. Jacobs and Cayton wanted Arum to commit Tyson to Arum's regular ESPN schedule, but Arum declined. His matchmaker, he told Jacobs, had told him Tyson was "an average talent."

----King gave Tyson a $50,000 Rolex watch the night Tyson beat Trevor Berbick for the heavyweight title in 1986, but Jacobs ordered Tyson to return it. ----The book portrays Tyson's former wife, Robin Givens, and her mother, Ruth Roper, as a pair of gold-diggers who, Illingworth said, went through $5 million during Givens' brief marriage to Tyson. Then, Illingworth said, Givens demanded an $8-million settlement when divorce proceedings began. She wound up with $1 million.

----And this, from John Giovenco, Las Vegas Hilton president, on Tyson's pals John Horne, Rory Holloway and Jay Bright, who stayed in Hilton suites for the 1989 Tyson-Frank Bruno fight: "These guys arrived in jeans and T-shirts, and within a few weeks they were wearing gold watches and jewelry from the hotel shops . . . and they were stealing towels."

Once again, California's bumbling Athletic Commission has postponed making its decision on a new executive officer to run its staff. The commission was to have selected the new man at its October meeting. Instead, it reduced the list of six candidates to three, and, it said, would announce its choice at a Nov. 1 meeting in Sacramento.

This week it was announced that the meeting was postponed until Nov. 15. Maybe they couldn't get anyone to come Friday. One commissioner, Robert Wilson of Sacramento, appointed in 1987, has been absent for half of the meetings during his tenure--20 of the last 40. And a new member, former boxer Carlos Palomino, has failed to attend two of his first three.

The Forum lost one meal ticket this week, but dusted off an old one.

Super-bantamweight Rudy Zavala signed with Las Vegas promoter Bob Arum as the Forum was announcing the comeback of former super-bantamweight champion Paul Banke.

Zavala, 13-0 with 11 knockouts at the Forum, has a two-year deal for eight fights per year with Arum, who owns the ESPN weekly boxing show. Zavala's first ESPN appearance will be Nov. 14, with his opponent to be chosen later.

Banke, meanwhile, returns next month to the Forum after having been soundly beaten by Pedro Decima Feb. 3. Banke has fought once since then, a mediocre outing in Indio recently. Even so, the World Boxing Council deems him fit for a Dec. 9 title match with old foe and present champion Daniel Zaragoza.

Boxing Notes

Bonecrusher Smith, who will fight Levi Billups in the Forum main event Monday night, has won 11 in a row. According to the Forum, only six other current heavyweights have longer winning streaks: Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Ray Mercer, Michael Moorer, Lennox Lewis and Pierre Coetzer.

The Oct. 5 Pernell Whitaker-Jorge Paez fight in Reno drew gross receipts of $184,654.50, Nevada Athletic Commission records show. Paid attendance was 2,841. Reno's next major show is the George Foreman-Jimmy Ellis fight Dec. 7.

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