BOXING NOTES; Red-light District

BOXING NOTES; Red-light District – Lewis should spot trouble in pro-

George Kimball

Even though theLennox Lewis camp has extended its negotiating deadline through tomorrow to allow Shelly Finkel, Showtime, and Mike Tyson’s backers in Washington extra time to round up a site fee, you’d have to say the June 8 heavyweight title fight looks less, rather than more, likely to wind up in the nation’s capital than it did a week ago.

If Tuesday’s licensing hearing showed nothing else, it demonstrated to Lewis that he’d probably get a fairer shake fighting Tyson in Catskill or Brownsville than he would in the District of Columbia. The DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission effectively ignored all opposition in its public hearing before rubber-stamping Tyson’s application.

Lewis would be leaning away from Washington if all things were equal, and right now you’d have to say they’re not. While Team Tyson beats the bushes for an angel (P. Diddy? Louis Farrakhan?) both rich and dumb enough to post the site fee, Memphis has its money together (courtesy of the Tunica casinos) and even has a building (the Pyramid). Should it wind up in Memphis, USA Today columnist Jon Saraceno even has a name ready for Lewis-Tyson: “Jailhouse Rock.”

Hamed caught in crunch

We were in the midst of a conversation with Kery Davis Tuesday when the HBO vice president got word he had an emergency phone call from the United Kingdom.

“Something just happened,” Davis said. “I’m going to have to call you back.”

Turns out Prince Naseem Hamed, who was to have fought Spaniard Manuel Calvo atop an HBO card at the London Arena next weekend, had injured himself while doing sit-ups. Hamed, who hasn’t fought since losing to Marco Antonio Barrera, had to be carried home by members of his entourage after straining his back.

The London bout has been scrapped, but the other half of the 126- pound doubleheader, featuring American featherweights Johnny Tapia and Hartford’s Angel Vazquez, has been preserved, and will now take place April 27 at the Madison Square Garden Theatre underneath the Jameel McCline-Shannon Briggs heavyweight fight.

The timing of that bout leaves Connecticut boxing fans in a quandary.

Do they head for New York to watch Vazquez battle Tapia on the big stage, or do they head for the Mohegan Sun, where Showtime has the Cliff Etienne-Terrance Lewis heavyweight matchup (with 168-pounders Jeff Lacy and Carl Handy underneath) that same night?

Ward-Gatti in Sun belt

That Micky Ward will fight Arturo Gatti May 18 is hardly a surprise.

Representatives of the two blood and guts junior welterweight veterans had, as mentioned here last week, been in negotiations over the particulars for several weeks, but the fact that the HBO bout wound up at the Mohegan Sun was something of an upset.

For one thing, just a few days before the official announcement was made, Foxwoods’ offer to stage the bout appeared to have trumped the Mohegans’. For another, since the final sticking point appeared to be money, Ward could have made more than the reported $435,000 he settled for (Gatti will supposedly get $1 million) by agreeing to go on the road to fight on Gatti’s home turf in Montreal. . . .

Although HBO looks likely to televise a bout between former champions Evander Holyfield and Hasim Rahman on June 1, a week before the Lewis-Tyson date, John Ruiz’ World Boxing Association mandatory against Canadian Kirk Johnson is no nearer to being delivered than ever. This is partially because Los Bandidos have been dragging their feet in ordering a purse bid and partly because HBO and Showtime have been preoccupied with the negotiations over the bigger fight, but Ruiz looks to be caught in a box on this one. From a network standpoint, it would be counterproductive to be touting anything that Lewis-Tyson as a “heavyweight championship fight” this spring, and moreover, Ruiz’ workmanlike style doesn’t lend itself to great television. It’s one thing when it’s effective in upsetting an opponent of Holyfield’s stature, but a bout against Johnson (scarcely a household name, even in Canada) is a tougher sell. . . .

Speaking of purse offers, Roy Jones lost out when his bid for his World Boxing Council mandatory against Clinton Woods was topped by a $4.2 million offer from British interests, who propose to stage the fight in Sheffield. While Jones can probably still get dispensation should a fight against International Boxing Federation cruiser champ Vassily Jirov or middleweight king Bernard Hopkins materialize, the long-range effect is that he’ll either have to travel to England for the defense (something he has been loath to do over the course of his career, having not fought outside the United States since being robbed in the 1988 Olympic final) or risk being stripped of the WBC third of his undisputed light heavyweight titles.

Bahamians fill Roxy bill

Bahamian boxers Kenny Stubbs and Holbrook Storr are being imported to furnish the opposition for Philadelphians William Gibbs and Aaron Torres in the two co-features underneath Friday night’s Rich LaMontagne-Pepe Muniz main event at the Roxy. Stubbs (10-6), who will face Gibbs (5-0), is the reigning middleweight champion of the Bahamas, while lightweight Storr (5-0), who will fight Torres (8-1) is the onetime national amateur champion.

The three principal fights will be highlighted in a March 31 tape- delayed broadcast on FoxSportsNet New England. . . .

Fairhaven super middleweight Scott Pemberton (22-2-1), who spent the better part of the past year as a guest of the government, makes his return to the ring April 4 at Foxwoods, where he will face Lloyd Bryan (20-7) in the main event of a non-televised show. Providence middleweight Peter Manfredo Jr. (10-0) meets Grady Brewer (10-3) underneath. . . .

Boston-area boxing lost a good friend when Ralph Palmacci passed away at 82 on Tuesday. Palmacci was the patriarch and president of the Somerville Boxing Club, which over the years nurtured fighters like Ruiz and the late Bobby Tomasello. . . .

While you’d hardly call a British newspaper’s reaction to last week’s Fox-televised “Celebrity Boxing” off-base, (“It was a unanimous decision. American television sank to a new low with the broadcast of a boxing match between those twin icons of white trash culture, Paula Jones and Tonya Harding”), the nadir distinction may not last long. In a bout that can only diminish the reputation of both men (to say nothing of the conscience of anyone who pays to watch it), former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes is coming out of retirement to fight Eric “Butterbean” Esch at The Scope in Norfolk, Va., on June 8. . . .

Happy Birthday, Joe Calzaghe.

Caption: LEWIS: Brit is not likely to get a fair shake in Washington.

Copyright 2002

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