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Boxing / Richard Hoffer : King-Lewis Collaboration Falls Into Disunity

January 10, 1987|RICHARD HOFFER

Dynamic Duo, the unlikely collaboration of promoters Don King and Butch Lewis, is dissolving in a pool of litigation. Lewis is suing his partner for an unpartner-like $30 million.

But who thought it would end otherwise? At that, who thought it would last this long?

The two were odd bedfellows from the get-go. Lewis was only in the heavyweight unification series because he controls Michael Spinks, the International Boxing Federation champion. As Spinks had to be included in the scheduled eight-fight HBO series, so, too, did Lewis have to be accommodated.

The inevitable rift, which by now has degenerated into squabbling over money and the ingenious accounting of same, actually began in November, the night young Mike Tyson won his way into the tournament by beating World Boxing Council champion Trevor Berbick. Lewis, whose fighter must meet the winner of the Tyson-James (Bonecrusher) Smith bout, got on the horn with the handlers of Gerry Cooney the same night.

Possibly the intimidating presence of Tyson caused Lewis to think of a quick and big payday outside the tournament. Lewis trumpeted a March 9 date between Spinks and Cooney. HBO, a major sponsor of the unification series, was horrified and secured an injunction.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday January 11, 1987 Home Edition Sports Part 3 Page 14 Column 4 Sports Desk 1 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
The super-lightweight bout between John Montes and Frankie Davis will be held Monday night at the Spruce Goose in Long Beach, not Saturday night as reported in Saturday's editions.

Many promoters, however, saw the Spinks-Cooney prospect as nothing more than a smoke screen. A March 9 promotion, which would have to be a cable and closed-circuit card to raise the kind of money required by either Cooney or Spinks, falls between the March 7 Tyson-Smith fight and the April 6 fight between Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard.

There is no exhibitor in the world who would pay the $100,000 required by, say, the Sports Arena who would book such a fight on closed circuit in between two relatively sure-fire attractions. Never mind the riskiness of any enterprise involving the oft-injured and unpredictable Cooney, or even that the fight might end with an injunction right at the bell.

How about the idea that there are few fight fans who can afford three such megabouts in succession? It just wouldn't, couldn't happen.

So, the destiny of this noble enterprise is dimmed somewhat, although it still limps ahead, at least to March 7 for the next leg of the tournament. Beyond that is anybody's guess. In the meantime, former partners King and Lewis are don't-invite-'ems.

Boxing Notes The folks at the Spruce Goose have, as they say, taken boxing under their wing. The Long Beach attraction, which has reduced winter hours and is thus available for nighttime events, was happy with the first show promoted there by Don Fraser and has ordered up the full complement of six for the season. Tonight, John Montes headlines the card in a super-lightweight bout with Frankie Davis. . . . Fraser is billing himself as the king of suburban boxing, and no wonder. He not only handles the Spruce Goose shows but also is committed to 12 others at the Irvine Marriott for the year. First of those is Jan. 26, featuring former super-bantamweight champion Jaime Garza against Darryl Thigpen. Garza, who has fought there twice in his comeback, drew a gate of nearly $37,000 there last year. None of Fraser's gates have dipped below $20,000.

Boxing, which used to be almost entirely urban, is not just thriving in Gold Coast suburbs; the Valley is hot, too. On Feb. 6 at the Country Club in Reseda, undefeated middleweight Michael Nunn, now of the Valley, will headline against undefeated Willie Harris of Philadelphia. Harris has fought just once after a layoff of a year and a half. The card, which will be televised live by ESPN, also features the pro debut of local star Alex Garcia, the amateurs' top-ranking super-heavyweight until he turned pro last week. He will fight Lionel Washington. Dino Garza, Jaime's brother, has a featherweight match, and in a separate featherweight bout, Floyd Patterson's son may make his West Coast debut. Tracy Patterson is 15-0. Floyd, former heavyweight champion, will be in his son's corner. . . . One suburban failure appears to be at the Universal Sheraton, where Harry Kabakoff has folded his tent after only a couple of shows. Kabakoff is hoping to promote all-Mexican cards at the Sports Arena, beginning Feb. 6.

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