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De La Hoya Has a Bill for Tarver

May 18, 2004|Steve Springer

They stood at the first tee of a golf course in Vero Beach, Fla., and negotiated, two high-profile boxers haggling over their purse without a promoter in sight.

In a few weeks, Antonio Tarver would stun the boxing world by flattening Roy Jones with a single, sweeping, devastating, knockout punch.

On June 5, Oscar De La Hoya will make his debut at 160 pounds against Felix Sturm at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena.

But on that day, the focus was on golf. Each man claimed he played to a 12 handicap.

"Let's play for $5 a hole," said De La Hoya, retelling the story Monday at Santa Monica Airport during a brief stopover on his way from his Vero Beach training site to Las Vegas.

"No, let's make it $100," countered Tarver.

So $100 it was.

Both men shot close to their handicaps, De La Hoya finishing with a four-hole advantage.

He expected to get paid, which he did. He also expected to get cash, which he didn't, receiving a check from Tarver.

Something about a tax write-off.

De La Hoya was surprised several days later to learn Tarver had declared bankruptcy.

"What good is this check going to do me now?" he wondered.

But Saturday night, Tarver earned more than $2 million for his two-round TKO of Jones, so De La Hoya can cash that check after all.

Or, perhaps, hang on to it.

As the first man to knock out Jones, Tarver has become an instant celebrity whose signature probably is worth more than $400.

-- Steve Springer

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