One holiday that no one in boxing celebrates is Father's Day. That's because boxing lore is full of stories about father-son boxing horror stories.
The latest potential family disaster is occurring within the Jones household of Pensacola, Fla. Roy Jr., the Olympic junior middleweight who was jobbed out of a gold medal, and father Roy Sr., a clubfighting middleweight who got stopped by Marvin Hagler before he was Marvelous, have been peddling what they expected to be much-sought-after wares to just about every promoter in the business.
They went from Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Trainer to Bob Arum to Shelly Finkel-Lou Duva to Emanuel Steward to Butch Lewis to Stan Hoffman-Josephine Abercrombie. All were very interested, but, one by one, all have dropped out of the hunt.
The reason? Once again, a daddy who is apparently trying to relive his boxing career through his son (see also: Gregorio and Wilfredo Benitez; Joe and Marvis Frazier; Bob and Tony Tucker; Howard Davis Sr. and Jr.; Bobby Czyz Sr. and Jr.; Tony Ayala Sr. and Jr.). Roy Sr. says he only wants to make the best possible deal for his son. But according to several prospective buyers, what Roy Sr. really wants is everything.
"He told me he had to approve all opponents and be the sole trainer," Finkel said. "That was the end of that."
According to another source, Jones Sr. turned down a $300,000 advance from Steward to fight for the Kronk Gym of Detroit. And the Leonard-Trainer axis, which "auditioned" Jones in a sparring match with Sugar Ray and had him attend Leonard's bout with Donny Lalonde as Ray's guest, lost interest after months of waffling by Jones Sr.
"We've known these people for a year and a half, and if there's this much indecision and agonizing at the takeoff, who knows what's going to happen once you get into the air?" Trainer said. "We all felt we knew Roy Sr. very well, but the longer this thing dragged out, we weren't sure if we did anymore."
Now the word is that Roy Sr. has cozied up with Harold Smith, who was recently released from California's Boron Correctional Facility after spending four years for embezzling $20 million of Wells Fargo money to promote fights in the '80s.
Smith did not return repeated phone calls to his Los Angeles home, but he did call at least one television network executive to pitch Jones. When asked by the executive if he still had a promoter's license, Smith replied, "Sure. My problem was with banks, not boxing."
Right now, Jones' problem is with the very real possibility that his star will fade, if it hasn't already. Although he's only 19, the memory of his brilliance in Seoul, South Korea, will diminish over time, especially as more and more of his teammates begin to turn pro.
"He should be 7-0, 8-0 right now," said Kronk's Prentiss Byrd. "Every day he sits on the shelf, the longer it will take him to become an attraction."
Tucker, another fighter who had serious father problems -- daddy Bob sold pieces of his son to almost everybody in the business and still wanted to control everything -- is on his way back to the ring after an 18-month layoff. Tucker, you'll recall, gave Mike Tyson his toughest fight in August 1987 and then dropped out of sight. Now the facts come out -- Bob Tucker, saddled with debts and needing his son's $2.1 million payday, pushed Tony into the fight even though he had broken his right hand 10 days before the bout.
And Tony, using whatever money he had left, developed a serious cocaine problem, for which he was recently hospitalized. Now, he is likely to reunite with Finkel, his first manager, and partner Gary Gittelsohn, and be trained by Joe Fariello. A clean and healthy Tucker can only boost the stagnant heavyweight division.
Is the honeymoon over between Mike Tyson and bosom buddy Don King?
The signs are that if it isn't, it soon may soon be. Stories were flying in Las Vegas, Nev., last week about friction between the two. One incident, confirmed with a Las Vegas Hilton parking attendant, had Tyson and King engaging in a very public shouting match in front of the hotel. According to witnesses, Tyson leaped into his car, and King grabbed the passenger-side door handle, trying to climb in. But before he could open the door, Tyson sped off, nearly running over King's foot.
A chagrined King, unaccustomed to being upstaged in public, snickered to onlookers, "I guess he wanted to be alone."
And King is said to be "not happy" about Tyson's choice of boyhood friend Jay Bright as his new trainer, at least through the Feb. 25 Frank Bruno fight. "Bright is definitely not a King man," said a King man who will remain nameless.
"I've always been my own man," Bright said. "As far as I'm concerned, I work for Mike Tyson and Mike Tyson only."
One fighter who overcame daddy-itis is Darrin Van Horn, who upset Robert Hines for the International Boxing Federation junior middleweight title last Sunday. Van Horn's dad, G.L., is a self-confessed playboy, but about a year ago he realized he had taken Darrin as far as he could despite running up a 34-0 record. G.L. began shopping around for professional help, finally settling on trainer Hedgemon Lewis and manager Ed Gersh. Van Horn showed vast defensive improvement in beating Hines.