LAS VEGAS, April 13 – Don King didn’t get his way, which is another way of saying Nevada did the right thing today and followed its rules, for the integrity of the sport, and refused to overturn Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s victory Saturday night over Zab Judah.
All those who say King and his minions – including Hap Hazzard in New Jersey, some hapless “writers” and the IBFelons’ pathetic president, Marian Muhammad – were correct in arguing for an automatic disqualification of Mayweather because his uncle, and trainer, Roger entered the Thomas & Mack ring, should be condemned to read the rules to the music of King Con’s mellifluous voice.
King, whose favorite publicist was obviously Joseph Goebbels, the master of the Big Lie, was there at the Nevada State Athletic Commission offices today, repeating over and over how his fighter should have been awarded an undeserved victory by disqualification.
For days, we have been inundated with the same nonsense. Over on another website, there was Bobby Goodman, who should be forced to surrender his James J. Walker Award for “long and meritorious service” to boxing, filing a “guest column” saying by all rights, Mayweather has to be disqualified once his uncle gets up on the apron. Goodman, who when he left King to head Madison Square Garden – and almost got boxing permanently banned from its old mecca – used to tell horrible stories about his old boss. He knows which side his bread is buttered; in his second tour of duty with King, he has become a loyal toady.
And Larry (Hap) Hazzard, whose sticky fingers were slapped by New Jersey for demanding extra ringside tickets, who when Mike Weaver clearly won the 15th and final round in his rematch with King’s beloved Michael Dokes, scored a 10-10 round so it wound up a draw on his card. Another judge did the same so Dokes got an unfair majority draw to retain the WBAsses heavyweight title (the other judge, you should know, was Harold Lederman), chimed in that in his state – the one where King is barred from promoting because he refuses to answer questions about payoffs to the jailed former IBFelon, Bob Lee – there is no question, Mayweather would have been DQ’d
Then Hap said he didn’t like it when he took away the “0” from the record of Roy Jones Jr. for hitting Montell Griffin when he was down, but rules are rules. Of course, there must have been a different set of rules when Riddick Bowe committed the same foul against Buster Mathis Jr. and, when Referee Arthur Mercante wanted to DQ Bowe, Hap overruled that and it went into the books as a no-contest. Hap, the same guy who keeps inflicting Eugenia Williams on fights as a ringside judge.
And Marian Muhammad, whose organization stripped its title from Juan Manuel Marquez because no one made a purse bid on a meeting with an undeserving mandatory challenge, whose Jersey gang left Judah with the welterweight title even after clearly losing to Carlos Baldomir, on the grounds that the Argentine underdog didn’t pay the sanction fees (calling the title “vacant” would of course have been better), this great champion of rules and integrity, called up the Nevada commission to suggest that Mayweather be penalized.
All Mayweather did was dominate the fight and then get hit in the balls as part of a one-two foul combination – Judah then landing a rabbit punch behind the neck.
Nevada, which had held both purses in addition to temporarily suspending Roger Mayweather, released Floyd’s $5 million purse, though it did sock his uncle with a $200,000 fine and revoke his second’s license for a year.
Judah’s purse, however, was not released. He and his trainer, and father, Yoel Judah, will be later called on the carpet and unquestionably will be disciplined. It wasn’t done today because no formal complaint had been filed Saturday against the Judahs (the way it had been for Roger Mayweather), though it seems clear that they too bear responsibility for boxing’s latest black eye. The other shoe will eventually drop and Judah will carry some history into the judgment – the way he went berserk after Referee Jay Nady called an end in the second round to his fight with Kostya Tszyu in 2001, heeling the official with his gloves under the chin and later hurling his stool at where he thought the referee was standing, the way last January when supposed to touch gloves with Baldomir, he instead punched the challenger in the hip.
The key, though, to today’s meeting was upholding Mayweather’s non-disqualification, despite King-sized pressures.
But let’s get this straight. The rules, according to the sovereign state, give the referee complete discretionary power when a third party enters the ring. The referee Saturday was Richard Steele, who once saved a King fighter, Julio Cesar Chavez, by stopping Meldrick Taylor, ahead on the scorecards, with seconds remaining in their epic struggle – saying that Taylor was unfit to go on. He did not stop the bout because Taylor’s manager, Lou Duva, was coming into the ring.
The other night, after discussing things with the commission chairman, Reno lawyer Skip Avansino, and its respected executive director, Marc Ratner, Steele ruled that the fight would resume after the tenth-round melee set off by flagrant fouls by Judah and Roger Mayweather’s stupid interruption.
Today, Avansino made it clear to King, that the five-man commission had “no ability to overrule” Steele. Game, set and match, according to the Nevada rules – which last I looked, was where this fight took place. King’s ace flak, Alan Hopper, called it a “rubber stamp.”
“Richard Steele was going to be a pariah,” King said during his 15 minutes of shame before the commission today. “Steele should have stood up.”
King, allowed to speak as Judah’s promoter, was supposedly going to give arguments why the commission should release his fighter’s $1 million purse (most of which was going to King and the IRS, a pair of inevitables in boxing), never tried to get Zab his estimated $250,000.
Instead, the man who helped George W. get reelected (were it not for the former numbers king and convicted, if pardoned, killer, John Kerry probably carries Ohio, King’s home state) tried to flout his political pull.
“I love the state of Nevada,” King said. “I helped [Governor] Kenny Guinn get elected.”
Roger Mayweather “wrote” an apology to the commission, which was read for him by Todd duBoef, vice president of Top Rank, Floyd’s promoters. In it, the two-time former world champion said he would accept whatever penalty given him. He lost his entire salary for the fight, and was given at least a year off. Other jurisdictions in this country do NOT have to follow suit since the punishment was disciplinary, not medical, BUT most probably will.
Roger Mayweather, who “lost his mind” Saturday, according to Ratner, had to be punished severely, though he would say after the hearing that he should not have accepted his penalties. He said he entered the ring because he thought the round was over.
I believe that more than I believe Zab Judah saying the low blow was accidental, offering proof that the illegal rabbit punch wouldn’t have been thrown if he had been merely trying to chop down the Mayweather family tree. Hell, if you didn’t believe the low blow was on purpose, you MUST realize the rabbit chop was and the only thing missing was a couple of bites out of the ears.
In any case, while Keith Kizer, who replaces Ratner as executive director a month from today, was hoping that Roger’s banishment would also include the gyms, it won’t. Uncle Roger can still train boxing’s best; he just won’t be able to work the corner at a fight.
No, Floyd Sr. will not be rejoining his son, not as long as he still trains Oscar De La Hoya, whom Floyd Jr. has targeted as most wanted opponent. Probably, neither will Uncle Jeff – who has been in Pretty Boy’s corner before – be there. Jeff Mayweather has taken over the training of Zahir Raheem, who could not afford to stay with Floyd Sr. in Puerto Rico, where e La Hoya is being trained for a May 6 date with Ricardo Mayorga here in Las Vegas. Raheem next month meets Acelino Freitas in Connecticut.
Without wishing any finder’s fee, I hereby recommend that Floyd Jr. turn to another father from a father-son tandem, Papa Joe Byrd, who left this morning with son Chris who defends the IBFelonious heavyweight title April 22 against Wladimir Klitschko in Mannheim, Germany.
Papa Byrd would be a perfect fit and he is certainly willing. Money won’t be an issue, either. Years ago, before Floyd Sr. got shot and his own ring career badly hurt, Papa Byrd helped train him for a year. Joe Byrd said Floyd Sr. was one of the best talents “til the son came along.”
The chances are that Floyd Jr. would be able to figure out any problems in any subsequent matches. Bob Arum of Top Rank has reserved the Thomas & Mack for July 29, hoping to match his star with Antonio Margarito. The Mayweather camp is not interested. If De La Hoya won’t be readily available, Sugar Shane Mosley makes more economic sense than would Margarito.
Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s close buddy and conditioning coach, took over the corner Saturday when Uncle Roger was led out of the arena following the tenth-round melee. But just in case another pair of veteran boxing eyes is needed, to decipher what the opponent is doing, or what Floyd isn’t, it makes sense to hire someone like Byrd, whose own son, like Junior, is a defensive whiz. Joe Byrd wouldn’t have to go to the gym, either. All he would need is to watch films of the opponent with Roger and learn the game plan….No, I am not going to recommend Yoel Judah, whose penny-pinching with Zab’s training – no top-flight sparring partners, I’m told – might be why Zab lost his gusto after five rounds….At least Zab did not ask for Mayweather to be disqualified. He insisted his fouls were accidental and said he was “sorry” such “a great event turned out the way it did.”….Avansino told Zab Judah that not only were his illegal blows going to be studied by “experts” on film-watching (Roger Ebert? Pauline Kael?), as will how he pushed his way through two state inspectors to get into the action during the melee….And then there’s the argument that even if Roger Mayweather caused a disqualification for entering the ring, then it should have been a double DQ because Yoel Judah committed the same infraction and it shouldn’t matter who did what first. Both were wrong….Don King arguing in favor of rules and integrity: Reason No. 666 why I love boxing.
PENTHOUSE: Yes, Nevada for getting the correct result. As reader Shane of North California wrote, “This was the best work I’ve seen Don King do since he tried to get Buster Douglas stripped for the long count. Awarding fights to guys who got their asses kicked really isn’t good for the integrity of the game. It’s good for Don, but someone needs to remind his hairness not to confuse the two.” But kudos also to Pretty Boy, who at 29 seems to have matured and, who in the confusion, managed to serenely stay above the fray.
OUTHOUSE: Okay, let’s leave Donald alone for a paragraph or two. How about Antonio Tarver, for saying Bob Arum’s scheduling Miguel Cotto in a pay-per-view fight to compete with the same night’s pay-per-view of Tarver’s confrontation with Bernard Hopkins was somehow a “racist” ploy. Tarver is brighter than that. Arum reserved Cotto for the Saturday night in New York before the Puerto Rican Day parade and matched him with a native New Yorker, Paul Malignaggi. The Cotto fight was scheduled long before the two faded stars reached an accord to meet. It is unfortunate that Tarver-Hopkins couldn’t find another slot, but please leave “race” out of this equation.