WAIL! BACK ISSUES . . . THE CBZ JOURNAL May 2001
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The Throne is dead - Long Live the King
by Jim McConnell


Amidst backroom scenes of Machiavellian nature, which would have made Richard III proud, Don King has emerged as the undisputed regent of the fight promotion game, yet again, standing aloft still, over the bloodstained interlopers who would usurp his crown.

Despite rumblings that Don's day in the sun had passed, that his grip on the heavyweight champion had weakened to the point where his hand must fall away from the sceptre, Don King reached an arm upward, and grasped hold of the hand of Rahman, who hoisted him back from the brink.

Those who underestimated Don's Influence and lingering power as a promoter, ignored the lessons of history, which have shown us time and time again, that when it comes down to it, fighters will sell their body and soul, when an offer from King hits the table.

Just as it seemed that the Rahman camp were on the verge of signing a deal with Lewis for the rematch, Don King reportedly intercepted Rahman on the way to a meeting with his promoters sending one of his own figthers to offer a last minute pow-wow opportunity. King always a gifted student of the street mentality which breeds most of the heavyweight champions of the world, sussed something which the big networks have yet to learn. A bag full of cash, containing $500,000 was presented to Rahman as a sweetener, and this carried more sway than any four fight multi-million dollar deals, presented as cashier cheques to Rahman.

King has again staged a coup, in signing Rahman, he has managed to turn up almost all the aces in the heavyweight scene, with both Holyfield and Rahman occupying the title belts between them. To do so while in the midst of promoting a historically significant middleweight tournament, is a testament to Don's powers.

That Rahman signing with king was an act of treachery against his promoter Cedric Kushner, who had guided him toward a heavyweight title shot, is undeniable. But such an act of naked avarice is hardly surprising. It is easy to be too hard on Rahman. No matter what the facts of his former professional and personal relationship with Kushner, the fact is that Rahman is the man who steps between the ropes, and as such feels himself justified in maximizing his earning potential.

As Rahman himself said as his justification for signing with King, during the Joppy V Trinidad fight. "He gave me the best deal.."

Boxer's have relatively short careers, and it is only the lucky and talented few who really ever make a great degree of money. Their high-earning high-profile lives give the appearance that despite the obvious brutality, boxing is a glamour sport. But for every main event in Vegas or Madison Square Garden, there are hundreds of fighters toiling in obscurity, for meagre paydays of a few thousand or even a few hundred pounds or dollars, this often before paying the entourage that train and advise them. While the fighters fight and take the blows, and risk their health, they see promoters, managers, trainers, all getting rich from their own toil. It is no wonder that the relationships between fighter and entourage is often strained and fragile.

So can we really blame Rahman for signing with King, and securing for himself a $5,000,000 singing bonus, plus a $500,000 cash incentive, and the promise of a speculated total of anywhere between $75,000,000 and $100,000,000 for a 4 fight deal?

In honesty no. As usual the culprit of the scene, lurking in the Shadows is Don King, who despicable as he can be, is at least true to form.

Of course now the Lawsuits are flying through the air like cannonfire at Gettysburg. Kushner is threatening to sue King and Rahman, Tyson is threatening to sue the WBC, and Lewis and Rahman.

In the meantime Don King can recline on his throne, rubbing his hands with glee, and marvelling at the tumult and chaos into which the heavyweight scene has desceneded. This is a tempest which Don King's barque is used to sailing, and it would not be surprising to see him ride out the storm once more, and live to enjoy the calm at the other end.

Others have urged caution to those who feel that the Don has regained his grip on the heavyweight throne, Dan Goosen has suggested that a fight deal with so many figures in it, is overpayment for Rahman, a man of dubious talents or as he so eloquently put it "This is one of the few times Don's not going to take a lemon and churn it into lemonade."

The implication also, is that perhaps this time Don has also gone too far legally, and that he may fric Kushner, for a previous attempt at coercion by Don King. Those hotly anticipating a knockout blow on Don King by the courts, would do well to remember just how high teflon Don's viscosity coefficient has been in the past, despite numerous attmepts to bring him to book.

Whatever the outcome of the machinations, shenanigans and litgations, once again, as anticipated, the sufferer here is the heaveavyweight scene. While the legal world makes a buck from the suits and counter suits filed in this current heavyweight tragedy, Don King can lick his lips with anticipation to at least 2 or 3 big paydays for himself and his clan.

It is likely that long begore any litiginous actions actually find their way into a courtroom, Rahman will already have faced his first opponent Brian Nielsen, and may even had had his second fight, possibly against the winner of the Holyfield Ruiz III bout, which almost certainly will be Ruiz.

So instead of the Lewis V Rahman rematch, which almost certainly would have been followed by the victorious Lewis against Tyson, we instead get to see Rahman beat up Nielsen, a European fighter with a very deceptive record, against very poor opposition, and then the less than delectable prospect of Rahman V Ruiz, or possibly even worse, Rahman V Holyfield.

If this latter were to happen, then there would be the unsavoury possibility of Holyfield regaining the crown, because he may still have enough tricks in the book to beat Rahman, even though he has struggled to get past Ruiz. It's worth remembering that Rahman was being solidly beaten by Lewis, prior to Lewis running out of gas and getting himself caught. Holyfield would likely be a lot harder to put down, and would certainly be in shape if nothing else.

The real prize though for Don King, is to be found in the shape of Mike Tyson. The former associate of the King clan, turned adversary, is currently filing a $100,000,000 lawsuit against his former manager and promoter, for crimes no doubt both real and imaginary.

Since losing his ties with Mike Tyson, Don has lost the biggest meal ticket in boxing history, a seemingly endless wellspring of six-figure plus sums, and with it control of the heavyweight title's biggest matchups.

Don's thoughts, surely must turn to luring back the biggest bauble in his heavyweight crown jewels, and if he can guarantee Tyson a fight against Rahman to win his titles back, he might still cajole Tyson into signing with him, and in turn dropping his lawsuit against the Don.

Whatever we may feel or say about Don King, he is the regent once more, and all in the heavyweight scene must now prostrate themselves at his feet, if they wish to enter his court.


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