YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Boxing / Richard Hoffer : Doesn't Take Much to Bring Back Heavyweights

August 09, 1986|RICHARD HOFFER

Lately, the heavyweights have been hovering at Benny the Jet's gym in Reseda. It's an accident of geography and timing: A heavyweight lives nearby, needs sparring partners, a group forms. So, for now anyway, the big men loiter in a one-time bowling alley, moving about like dinosaurs.

There's Mike Weaver. The one-time heavyweight champion made millions. Lived in a big house in Diamond Bar, drove some long kind of car--a Stutz Bearcat comes to mind. Still has the car. Lives in a Woodland Hills condo now. Lawyer got the money, lots of it. It's in court.

He's back in the gym, his career at a start-over point since Bonecrusher Smith cold-cocked him in the first round in April.

"Happened before," said a laughing Weaver, a man far too kind for his profession.

He's getting ready to go to Fayetteville, N.C., to fight Razor Ruddock on Aug. 23. What does he know about Razor Ruddock? Weaver, who once took fights on hours' notice, laughs some more. "Nothing."

Weaver, who had been red-hot after a second-round knockout of Carl (The Truth) Williams, believes he will get the winner of the main event, a fight between Smith and David Bey. And then he'll be red-hot again. That has happened before, too.

Then there's Monte Masters. He used to be heavyweight champion of the World Athletic Assn., administered by his father-in-law, Pat O'Grady, in that acknowledged fight capital, Oklahoma City. Sounds funny, he admits.

"But I didn't marry into it," he said. "I was champion first."

Nevertheless, when he split with his wife, his title was vacated. That's the first known instance of that, although men have lost more in divorce proceedings.

The papers had some fun all the same: "O'Grady KOs Masters."

Masters was out of boxing for two years. Did some logging in Oklahoma, some construction work. "But I got boxing in my blood," said Masters, 30, as rugged looking as, well, any rodeo rider. "I'll give it two more years."

He knows the ins and outs of boxing, anyway. Believes he fought the same guy three times, under a variety of names, in commission-less Oklahoma. So, he has no illusions about his 29-2 record, or one-time title. Still, once three years ago, on three weeks' notice, he did beat Tony Fulilangi, the Mike Tyson of his day, not to mention the WAA heavyweight champ. Something there.

"But then I got notice O'Grady wanted me to defend against Randy Cobb, on the condition I give him his cut of $7,500 from the Fulilangi fight," Masters said. "I was going to get $15,000 for Cobb, but with his 50-50 cut from that, I'd be fighting for zero. That's bad business, from my point of view."

Lost the title again , no punches thrown.

So Masters is back, sparring with Weaver, worrying about a fight with a former football player named Nick DeLong. "Is he tough?" asks Masters. "I'm kinda nervous. Sometimes I'm shaking so bad I can hardly touch gloves in the ring." He pretends to vibrate like a piano wire.

The heavyweights come and go, drifting about the gym, wrapping fists, adjusting headgear, hitching this or that. Here comes Mark Wills, who recently upset Greg Page in the Forum tournament and who stands to win $50,000 if he beats Larry Alexander in the tournament finale.

This day Wills is baby-sitting. His 4-month-old daughter, Domonique, is sitting in the crook of his massive arm like a tiny toy. "She watches me do sit-ups in the morning," says Mr. Mom. "She cracks up."

Wills took three years' worth of child development courses at various colleges, mostly so that he could deal with his 6-year-old son, he says. "I worked at Child's World in Tarzana, other places," he says. "But now I'm dedicating myself to boxing."

Domonique's pacifier has slipped to his huge lap, and she is, sort of, drooling. "What's this," says Wills, child developer, surprised. He retrieves the pacifier and holds it up. "She dropped her mouthpiece," he explains.

Boxing Notes

Los Angeles Times Articles