When Mort Sharnik first discussed the bout, Don King's bull had a nice ring to it. Junior-lightweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez, possibly the best boxer nobody has seen, was going to defend his World Boxing Council title against Roger Mayweather, a former champion himself. A good match-up. But the best part, to Sharnik's mind, was that King had located it in a Tijuana bullring. Sharnik, who makes all the fights for CBS-TV, was in love with the theatrical possibilities.
Sure, CBS wanted it.
But Sharnik and CBS soon lost the theater, if not the match. "What I hear," said Sharnik, a little disappointed, "King thought they were talking dollars when they were talking pesos." The fight, which will be held next weekend, quickly went to the Riviera in Las Vegas, where currency conversion is no problem.
It's possible CBS wouldn't have bought the fight had Sharnik known it would be held in a Las Vegas ballroom. All the same, there's no panic over the presentation. Sharnik has been a fan of the undefeated Chavez for a while and has just been waiting for the right (read: English speaking) contender to showcase him.
"It's American TV," said Sharnik, "and if somebody doesn't speak English, you have a hard time. So you need a strong American contender to get them in there. I introduced (Mexican) Salvador Sanchez to America but I had to wait for Danny Lopez to do it."
This time Mayweather, a former junior lightweight champion, has been brought in to fill the bill. Mayweather, of Las Vegas, may view his role differently, however. Though he had been stunned in the first round of his title defense last year by Rocky Lockridge and appeared to have suffered damage to parts of his head other than just his jaw, he is certainly on a comeback. After the Lockridge fight, he met Tony Baltazar and pussy-footed for 10 rounds to lose a close decision. But he's regained his confidence and has won twice since then and has climbed back to No. 3 in the rankings.
Still, this fight is all about Chavez. "He's a handsome kid with a certain marvelous confidence," said Sharnik. "But subdued. So persistent and implacable. He just keeps coming."
It's just too bad about that bull ring.
Lights Out: The Olympic Auditorium has yielded to darkness Thursday nights after promoters spent a lot of money to try to restore weekly boxing there. But after a two-month run by Five Star Promotions, there have been four straight open weeks, Thursdays without a bout. Manager Bennie Georgino, who has been working on the promotion with son Don, the promoter of record, says, "We've tried everything, not that we've given up, but unless we put together some sponsors . . . " Georgino says trying to promote boxing in Los Angeles these days may be "like rocking a dead baby."
Attn., Guinness: Promoter Don Fraser, who may have used a gimmick or two in his time, has landed the Weaver triplets for his next show at the Irvine Marriott. The triplets, younger brothers of former heavyweight champion Mike Weaver, are Floyd, Lloyd and Troy, and they are identical in all respects except that brother Floyd has already made his pro debut.
Fraser is the promoter who once gave us, among other things, the first California bout between women, way back in 1976. Is this, too, a first? "I'm saying it is," said Fraser. "Let somebody prove different."
Boxing Notes CBS-TV has scheduled four title fights in as many weeks. Sunday, the network will show the International Boxing Federation lightweight title fight between champion Jimmy Paul and one-time prospect Robin Blake. Blake used to be called Rockin' Robin but that was before he lost consecutive fights to Tryone Crawley and Harry Arroyo and became Rock'd Robin. Paul, on the other hand, is the new big name after he decisioned Arroyo. Paul is a member of Detroit's champion-making Kronk team. . . . On the undercard of that fight, coming from the Tropicana in Las Vegas, is Olympic gold medalist Henry Tillman, an undefeated heavyweight. . . . Later in July, after next week's Julio Cesar Chavez-Roger Mayweather bout, CBS will show a Milton McCrory welterweight defense and a Gene Hatcher junior welterweight defense. Then it's back to football. . . . Don Fraser's Irvine Marriott gold mine opens again July 22 with his biggest name yet, Sean Mannion, who lost a decision to junior middleweight champion Mike McCallum. Mannion will be put in with Anaheim's Bert Lee. . . . Next Wednesday the Sports Arena has a big show, with former lightweight contender Gato Gonzalez headlining against local Rene Arredondo, the No. 3 super lightweight according to the WBC. Also on that card, local super bantamweight Oscar Muniz, No. 4 in the WBC, will fight Jorge Ramirez. . . . The Boxing Hall of Fame will induct former champions Ruben Olivares, Kid Chocolate, Kid Gavilan, Floyd Patterson and Gene Fullmer at its sixth annual meeting in Los Angeles, Oct. 26. Also to be honored are Gil Clancy, boxing writer Jack Fiske and Jackie McCoy.