Boxing / Richard Hoffer : Thomas Is Hoping to Unify Heavyweight Titles

February 21, 1986|Richard Hoffer

Pinklon Thomas is distinguished among his contemporaries in that he is the only current heavyweight boxing champion--and there are three, mind you--to have made so much as one successful title defense. That says something about both Thomas and the heavyweight division.

Now Thomas, who has already straightened out Thomas, is taking aim on the rest of the heavyweight division, which he hopes to unify in the next few years.

After all, if a man can beat heroin addiction, he stands a good chance of overcoming the double dealing that has divided and diluted heavyweight boxing for most of the last 10 years.

He's in town, training at the Main Street gym for a March 22 fight against Trevor Berbick. It will be the first of seven planned fights in an ambitious scheme to unify the title.

"It's about time," said Thomas, who became the World Boxing Council champion by beating Tim Witherspoon and later defeated Mike Weaver in his only defense so far. "It's needed."

The plan, made mostly by promoter Don King and HBO, has champion Michael Spinks of the International Boxing Federation fighting Larry Holmes, the man he beat for the title, some time in April. The third fight in the series will be a title defense by champion Witherspoon of the World Boxing Assn.

Fights 4 and 5 will be WBC and IBF title bouts. Then in 1987, the WBC and WBA champions will box, the winner meeting the IBF champion.

So, for a little while longer anyway, boxing will continue to read like an eye chart. But if the plan works, someday there will simply be the heavyweight champion.

Thomas, of course, assumes that he will be that champion.

"Cream will rise to the top," he said. "I have to be considered the No. 1 champion because 'Spoon, who just regained a title, well, I'm the man who beat him for the WBC title. And Spinks, well, he took Holmes when he was ripe as a grape. I do hold the biggest title."

Thomas, 28, says he is careful not to fall into the same trap his contemporaries have.

"The division has been a fiasco because the guys somehow never get past their first defense," he said. "They don't take it serious, I guess. I take it serious. There's always some guy out there ready to take it from you. I know. I been one of them guys."

Mickey Davies, who made matches at the Olympic Auditorium in its glory days and later at the Forum right up until he died last Thursday, was mourned mightily in boxing gyms across Los Angeles.

"You hear it all the time when somebody dies, but Mickey really was liked," manager Bennie Georgino said in the Main Street Gym. "He was the most-liked guy in boxing. No matter where I went, who I talked to, they always had something good to say about Mickey. It seemed like he was always slipping somebody a $20 bill. That kind of guy.

"And he knew boxing, too. He knew styles, how to make great fights. He brought up Indian Red Lopez, Jerry Quarry, guys like that."

Georgino said of Davies, who died of cancer at 67: "He had no enemies."

In boxing, that is the ultimate obituary.

Boxing Notes Featherweight champion Azumah Nelson is in town, training to defend his World Boxing Council crown against top-ranked Marcos Villasana. That may allow promoters of the "Fight for Life" show next Tuesday at the Forum a sigh of relief, since Nelson has, so far in his career, caused a total of three postponements of fights at the Forum. The "Fight for Life" promotion, which features a host of former Mexican champions such as Ruben Olivares and Carlos Zarate, is planned as a benefit for Mexicans displaced by last year's earthquake.

Los Angeles is not home to many title fights but little more than a week after the Nelson-Villasana bout, it will get another one. WBC super lightweight champion Lonnie Smith will come to the Olympic Auditorium March 6 to defend against top-ranked Rene Arredondo. That fight had originally been scheduled for March 1. "Two big shows that close together," promoter Jimmy Gilio said. "Keep in mind the Forum show had originally been scheduled earlier in the month. So we pushed this one back, too." Gilio claims that the winner will take on Alexis Arguello, who is making a comeback. That's possible if Arredondo wins, but not probable if Smith, unbeaten, retains the title. Arguello, 33, wants a fourth championship but does not figure to get it against a slick boxer such as Smith. Arguello, who can still punch, would more likely go after the World Boxing Assn. title, held by Ubaldo Sacco. Also on the card, ranked super featherweight Oscar (Negro) Bejines will fight former champion Bazooka Limon.

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