As workers at the Sheraton Universal scurried about on Thursday making preparations for tonight's introduction of boxing at the hotel, you quickly got the impression that this was all very new to them.
Little things gave it away. Like one of the employees wondering aloud if the bright lights hanging over the ring in the stately Universal Ballroom wouldn't shine in the boxers' eyes "if the guy is lying down."
He was told, in so many words, that if a boxer is lying down inside the ring, the least of his worries would be bright lights. More than likely, a boxer in such a position would see no light at all.
Even veteran promoter Harry Kabakoff, who has set up boxing programs in places where rats are counted as spectators, had his problems adjusting to the new, plush format in Universal City.
"We're serving food, and the tables will have real linen table cloths and real silver to eat with," Kabakoff said. "Real silver knives and forks. I hope nobody steals them. I just figured these kind of people, at $20 and $30 and $40 a ticket, wouldn't steal the silverware. But they might."
This might be the only public event ever held where patrons have to pass through a metal detector on the way out .
The featured bout of the night is a scheduled 10-rounder between lightweights Erick Madrid and Martin Morado. Madrid is half of the "Sylmar Slashers" duo. The other half is his identical twin brother, Elias.
Madrid, 25, is 20-1-1 following a 10-round decision in February over Neri Reyes, a win which avenged his only loss as a professional. Morado is 14-7.
Four other bouts are scheduled, including an eight-round middleweight bout between Ernest Lee Curtis of Los Angeles and John Michael Roy of Pasadena. Curtis, 10-2, is nicknamed "Peanuts" and throws bags of them to the crowd before his bouts. Roy has no known nicknames. He'd also just as soon have no known ring record, but he does. It is listed at 6-3-1.
All of the fighters will dress in regular rooms at the Universal City hotel. They will stride out of the elevators and through the main lobby on the way to their bouts, passing by the jewelry store with its diamond necklaces in the windows.
When they climb into the ring off the lush paisley carpet, they will have to be careful not to slam their heads into any of the four huge crystal chandeliers that dangle above each corner.
"I want the riffraff out for this one," Kabakoff said. "I don't want to cater to the usual boxing people. I want the people from the hills, the people from Encino. That's why the tickets are priced so high.
"Yesterday, a guy called me from Beverly Hills and told me he was celebrating and needed four of the $40 tickets. I found them for him and asked what he was celebrating. He said he just bought a Rolls-Royce Corniche. Geez, that's a $150,000 car. I hope the guy plans on paying for the tickets."
Also scheduled at the hotel that Johnny Carson has referred to as the "Sheraton Unusual" will be actors Tony Danza and Telly Savalas, and entertainer Doc Severinsen, who will serve as celebrity judges. They are to judge each round and hold up score cards to the cable television cameras. This is being done for the sole benefit of the home viewing audience.
Only one small detail remained Thursday afternoon. There had been no contract signed with a cable television company. "We think maybe Donnie Osmond cable will pick it up," Kabakoff said.
Now if they can just get Marie to parade around the ring holding the cards with the round numbers on them.