LAS VEGAS -- The strong betting on Larry Holmes in his title fight with heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield tomorrow night has apparently caught some of the leading sports books by surprise.
Holmes, who opened as a 7-1 underdog a month ago, has been bet down to 4-1 by his supporters.
"We have a lot of money being bet on Holmes and grocery money on Holyfield," said Russ Culver, who manages the sports book at The Mirage.
Added Vinnie Magliulo, who operates the betting parlor at Caesars Palace, "The public is buying this fight and rooting for Holmes, and that's quite a turnaround."
Incidentally, Holmes has a 12-0 record fighting at Caesars Palace. He won the World Boxing Council title here in 1978 in a stirring 15-round fight with Ken Norton, and in prominent defenses, defeated Earnie Shavers, Muhammad Ali and Gerry Cooney.
* Holmes, an avid fisherman, was asked what kind of fish Holyfield brought to mind. "He's definitely a sucker," Holmes said.
* The Duva clan is unmatched in boxing circles. Father Lou runs training camp, son Dan, a lawyer, promotes the fights, son Dino, an accountant, keeps the books, daughter Donna handles travel relations and daughter-in-law Kathy heads the publicity team.
"I have my fistic family and my blood family," said Lou Duva. "You
can't ask for better than that."
Lou, who turns 70 today, underwent a heart bypass last year, but five days later was back promoting the Holyfield-Holmes fight.
"I would have left the hospital sooner," he said, "but they had two straitjackets on me and 17 guards outside my door."
* Rock Newman, who manages top contender Riddick Bowe, of Port Washington, Md., rapped Holyfield for choosing to fight Holmes, 42, in preference to one of the young challengers.
"By fighting Holmes, he shows disrespect for the heavyweight championship," Newman said. "Five or six of the young ranked fighters would be a mismatch against Holmes. He was on his way out in 1985 when he lost to Michael Spinks, and then Tyson destroyed him in 1988.
"Holmes didn't do anything to merit this title shot. He ducked fighting Bowe because he knew he couldn't beat him. And then he got lucky by beating Ray Mercer, an overrated, one-dimensional fighter."
* Promoter Bob Arum has threatened to blacklist junior featherweight Kennedy McKinney of Las Vegas, who was scheduled to fight former champion Pedro Decima of Argentina in the 10-round semifinal tomorrow night.
Arum pulled McKinney from the Holyfield-Holmes show after learning he had been absent from the gym the past week.
"If there's no excuse for it -- and I assume there is not -- he won't appear on any more Top Rank shows," said Arum, president of the company.