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Boxing / Earl Gustkey : Buss' Bid to Purchase Ring Magazine Is Alive

June 24, 1989|Earl Gustkey

Jerry Buss' attempt to buy Ring magazine, rumored recently to be dead after 2 1/2 years, is very much alive.

Substantive negotiations between Buss' representative, John Jackson, and Ring's part owner, Dave DeBusschere, the former pro basketball star, have not only begun again but are proceeding rapidly to a conclusion, according to Jackson.

Ring, which dates to the 1920s, was once a premier sports publication and could be found on virtually every newsstand in America. Today, down and almost out, the magazine has suspended publication.

Buss wants to buy the magazine, move its offices from New York to Los Angeles, hire a creative staff, increase advertising revenue, reduce its publication costs and improve its distribution.

"It's an emotional thing with Jerry," Jackson said. "He's read Ring since he was a kid, he loves boxing, and it saddens him to see how far the magazine has gone downhill."

Reportedly, the recurring stumbling block is liability for Ring's considerable debts.

Meanwhile, rumors have it that Bert Sugar, the former Ring editor who was fired six years ago by DeBusschere and who has since made Boxing Illustrated a rousing success, is waiting in the wings with backers, hoping to pick up the magazine for a song, should the Buss deal collapse and the publication wind up in a bankruptcy sale.

Part and parcel with a Buss purchase of Ring would be the coveted "Ring Record Book and Boxing Encyclopedia," which the magazine began publishing annually a half-century ago. It ceased publishing the book with its 1987 edition.

For decades, the Ring record book has been boxing's only link to its legends and days gone by. With no other source could a fight fan spend a quiet evening learning such indispensable esoterica as the following:

--That Joe Louis' first big payday was the $60,000 he earned for knocking out Primo Carnera in 1935.

--That boxing's first $100 ticket was for the 1891 Jim Corbett-Peter Jackson fight in San Francisco, and not the 1946 Joe Louis-Billy Conn fight, as many believe.

--That boxing's longest unbeaten streak was put together by a journeyman named Hal Bagwell, who between 1938 and 1948 went 175-0-5.

--That boxing's biggest crowd was 135,132 at Milwaukee, Aug. 18, 1941, for Tony Zale-Billy Pryor at the Fraternal Order of Eagles boxing show. It was free.

Whatever became of Bill Cayton, manager of heavyweight champion Mike Tyson until Don King wrestled him away?

Even though Cayton is still contractually Tyson's manager until his contract expires in 1992, he has gone out and found himself a new tiger.

Cayton, 70, is mailing video cassettes to boxing reporters, introducing Tommy Morrison, 20, a 215-pound slugger from Jay, Okla., who is 10-0, all by knockout. Morrison may get network air time Sunday. If ABC's Bobby Czyz-Prince Charles Williams bout ends early, Morrison's six-rounder will be shown.

Harold Rossfields Smith, who was issued a California boxing manager's license from behind closed doors, has indicated to the Nevada Athletic Commission that he will apply for a Nevada license, too.

Smith, who served 5 1/2 years in federal prison on a $21.3-million bank embezzlement charge, manages Roy Jones, the middleweight who was the victim of a hotly disputed decision in his gold-medal bout at the Seoul Olympic Games.

Smith's application will be considered at an open, public meeting, probably at the commission's July meeting, according to commission executive director Chuck Minker.

Boxing Notes

Caesars Palace failed to sell out its stadium for the June 12 Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns fight. The hotel announced a full house of 15,336, but official numbers filed with the Nevada Athletic Commission show paid attendance was 12,064. . . . CBS carries the Orlando Canizales-Kelvin Seabrooks International Boxing Federation bantamweight title fight from Atlantic City, N.J., today, sometime between 4 and 6 p.m.

Mark Kaylor of England and Jerry Okorodudu of Nigeria meet in a 10-round light-heavyweight fight Monday at the Irvine Marriott. . . . FNN/SCORE shows a 10-hour boxing videotape marathon beginning at 2 p.m. July 4, including showings of past George Foreman, Roberto Duran and Aaron Pryor title fights. The network will also carry the July 8 Rene Jacquot-John Mugabi World Boxing Council junior middleweight title fight live from Paris. . . . CBS shows Buddy McGirt-Tony Baltazar from Swan Lake, N.Y., July 9.

John Montes and Kenny Comer meet for the California junior welterweight championship Wednesday night at the Hollywood Palladium. . . . CBS presents heavyweights Razor Ruddock and Bonecrusher Smith from Fayetteville, N.C., July 2.

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