Walter Santemore sat alone in his dressing room, sipping from a glass of ice water and then holding it to his rapidly swelling head.
Santemore had just been knocked out by Michael White in the fifth round of their March fight at the Irvine Marriott. White, who is 7-feet tall and weighs 275 pounds, is the state heavyweight champion.
Santemore, whose only distinction in boxing is a knockout of Earnie Shavers, was impressed by White's quickness but questioned his punching power.
"I would never knock another man's ability," Santemore said. "But he didn't hit me that hard. It was more his size than anything else. I got hurt by his elbow. He can hit, but he sure doesn't have the punching power of someone like Shavers, not right now, anyway."
Punching power, or lack of it, seems to be the biggest question about White.
"That's exactly what I've been working on," White said. "I've got to throw more punches and throw them harder. Anyone who saw Mike Tyson beat Michael Spinks knows punching power is what it takes to get to the top."
White (22-7) will take on Levi Billups (14-3) tonight in the main event of the monthly program at the Marriott. The first of seven scheduled bouts will start at 7:30 p.m.
"Mike's a pretty easygoing guy," Bill Field, his trainer, said. "We need him to show a little more fire in the ring. But he has shown improvement in each fight, and we are happy with that."
White has won his last seven fights, the last two by knockout, but he has yet to gain much attention outside of Southern California. He has not been ranked in the top 10 by any boxing group.
"After this fight, providing we win, we hope to get him a fight on television," Field said. "That's what it will take to get him ranked and get him a title shot."
Michael White no longer wants to be known as Mike (The Giant) White. "It was never my name. That's just what a lot of people started to call me," he said. "My family has always called me Michael White, and that's what my name is." . . . This will be the second meeting between White and Billups. White defeated Billups at the Spruce Goose in Long Beach in February, 1987. . . . Luis Hernandez of Redlands will fight Rigo Felix of of Pomona in the 128-pound semi-main event. . . . Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today in the main ballroom of the Irvine Marriott.