Weigh-in: The phony baloney is too much


YOUR CALL: Readers say a new heavyweight king will be crowned tonight. Page B12.

LAS VEGAS -- I am standing in a huge ballroom in a huge hotel in a city symbolized by a basketball coach nicknamed Tark The Shark. I am here, in the midst of perhaps 2,000 other people, waiting for two large men to stand on a scale in their underwear and be weighed.

Mothers, don't let your children grow up to be sportswriters.

This is the weigh-in for tonight's Buster Douglas-Evander Holyfield fight. Call it the little deal before the big deal. The fight has been billed as "The Moment of Truth." That makes the weigh-in "The Hour of Baloney."

Much has been written about boxing's hype, but you have to really be there to appreciate it. Make that be disgusted by it.

The marriage of boxing and Las Vegas was made in heaven. For every phony sport, there ought to be a phony city.

I wonder why anybody even cares what these two large gladiators weigh. It's not like the other divisions in boxing, where it matters because they have a limit on what they can weigh before they are allowed to fight. No, these are heavyweights. In this category, sumo wrestlers may apply.

Remember Tony Tubbs when he fought Mike Tyson for a minute or so in Tokyo? He was a heavyweight whose name fit his body.

I wonder about my own business. There are cameras here, cameras there, cameras, cameras everywhere. Has our whole world been reduced to a sound bite?

And my print media colleagues! Why, some of them actually sprint to the phones when the weights of the two large men in their underwear are announced. Did Babe Ruth die? Is it huge news that one of the two huge men has turned out to be even huger than everybody thought he'd be? And is huger a word, anyway?

I wonder, as I watch Douglas and Holyfield enter the room, why all these huge men who box in these matches never go anywhere without an entourage of about 15 other huge men. Do these fighters really need extra protection? Who are they being protected from, 100 sportswriters with bad eyes?

And what about those in the entourages? What do they list on their resumes under current occupation? Leech? Parasite? CEO for entourages?

I wonder if I'm not actually enjoying this more than I care to admit. There are such great moments of high comedy. Holyfield weighs a predictable 208, but Douglas weighs 246. Goodyear can no longer claim exclusivity in the blimp market.

So the aftermath of "Moment of Truth -- Weigh-In" begins. A man named Jeffrey Milgrom, who passes out business cards identifying himself as the director of marketing and promotions for Buster the Blimp, says: "He had a big breakfast."

Lou Duva, Holyfield's trainer, says: "It's a good thing there's any food left at all in the hotel."

And J.D. McCauley, Douglas' uncle and trainer, says: "As long as I've been around him, he's been 236. But we've never weighed him, not once. I know my nephew's body. He's 236. Somebody bumped the scale."

The foolishness even strays from the subject at hand, the tale of the scale. Word spreads that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has acquired a copy of Mrs. Holyfield's recent divorce suit. In it, she allegedly cites, among other reasons for her need to be shed of her husband, that he physically abused her. Soon, the word is that the odds have slipped on Holyfield's beating Douglas, because Paulette Holyfield apparently filed her suit from a standing position.

Finally, I wonder if this isn't all just a grand scheme to further line the pockets of the people who really get fat from all this, the hotel and casino owners.

In the hour after Douglas weighs in larger than life, $120,000 is bet on Holyfield in the Mirage Hotel sports book alone. Two lines of bettors wait for as long as 15 minutes to pay homage, and dollars, to the sleekness of Holyfield.

Which makes me wonder if somebody did bump the scale. And that makes me wonder all sorts of other things that I don't want to even begin wondering about.

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