NEW YORK — Asked how life was treating him, Randall (Tex) Cobb said, "I'm holding my hands up.
"It's a good change, too. I never did that when I fought."
Then Cobb laughed, something he does easily and often . . . at himself and life.
He was even laughing after Larry Holmes gave him a 15-round beating in defense of the World Boxing Council heavyweight title in 1982.
Howard Cosell, broadcasting the bout for ABC-TV, spent most of the time saying the match should be stopped, then said he would never broadcast another professional fight. He hasn't.
"I've had Saturday nights worse than the fight with Holmes," Cobb said in a recent interview while in town to appear on "Late Night with David Letterman," where he talked about films he has made with Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor.
"Of course, I've had some terrible Saturday nights."
After the fight, Cobb put his arm around a girlfriend and walked out into the Houston night to party.
"Did you ever meet me when I didn't laugh?" he asked during the interview, which was punctuated by Cobbs' bellows and curses. His wife, Sharon, a songwriter in Nashville, Tenn., paid him no mind.
Following a 10-round decision loss to Eddie Gregg in 1985, in which he was knocked down for the first time in his career, Cobb told Gregg, "Son, I think you just knocked me into being a movie star."
Cobb might not be a movie star, but he is a busy actor who has appeared in five recently released or soon-to-be released films.
"It looks like boxing is all over with," he said, "but what's over with is me working for a living."
The 33-year-old Cobb does not see acting as work.
"Right at the start, when you're a kid, you lie to your parents," he said. "When you're in school you lie to your teachers and when you're out of school you lie to your boss.
"So how hard is it to lie to the camera?"
Whatever his method, it seems to be working.
"Paramount is talking about a multi-picture deal," Cobb said, "and we're talking about a guest-host shot on the 'Tonight' show."
The past two Fridays, Cobb appeared in a two-part "Miami Vice" episode, which also featured welterweight contender Mark Breland, who played a fighter, and promoter Don King, who played a promoter.
"I play a trainer and a fight manager who doesn't steal. That's poor acting on my part," said Cobb, who has sued his former manager, Joe Gramby.
Cobb was acting while he was still fighting, landing roles in "The Champ" and "Uncommon Valor." In the latter, he played a psychotic Vietnam War veteran, a role he might have prepared for while attending Abilene Christian University, where he played football for two years.
He was once suspended from the team after the coach found him in a dormitory room, reportedly armed with an English crossbow, shooting flaming arrows at another dorm and screaming: "Get ready to die."
Cobb recently appeared in another war film, "The Dirty Dozen III," which was shot in Yugoslavia and which will be televised Feb. 9.
He was happy working with Telly Savalas--"He's a class guy, about 10 steps ahead of other professional actors"--but he was unhappy with the hotel he stayed in at Zagreb.
"I got billed for $4,000 in telephone calls." Cobb said. "There were numbers I never called, and some numbers I called once I got billed for six times. We complained. Then they said they realized there was a mistake and they gave me back 32 cents."
Cobb plays a henchman of satan in "The Golden Child," starring Murphy, and an insane asylum inmate who thinks he's white in "Critical Condition," which was released this weekend and features Pryor.
Cobb also has roles as a purse snatcher in "Police Academy IV," due out in April, and as a man who pursues a kidnaper in "Raising Arizona," which will be released in May.