Showdown at 'Alamo' may be one to remember King heaps hype on Whitaker-Chavez


NEW YORK -- Pernell Whitaker had yet to throw a punch at World Boxing Council welterweight champion Buddy McGirt on Saturday night, and already promoter Don King was choreographing a fall showdown "at the Alamo" between Whitaker and unbeaten Julio Cesar Chavez of Mexico.

"We'll hold it in the 60,000-seat Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Sept. 18, close to Mexican Independence Day," said King, holding court ringside at Madison Square Garden. "The fight is signed, sealed and delivered.

"It will be the greatest fight in Texas since Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie fought the armies of Mexico. I can already picture Chavez riding across the plains, kicking up all that dust."

"Yeah," countered rival promoter Dan Duva, "and when Chavez rides out of town, he'll be 85-1."

In the eyes of King, who has seized on Chavez as his principal meal ticket since Mike Tyson was jailed last year on a rape conviction, and Duva, who speaks for Whitaker, it hardly mattered if Whitaker survived against McGirt.

The stylish Norfolk, Va., left-hander's unanimous decision over McGirt was simply icing on the Whitaker-Chavez match, which could net each fighter $5 million.

King favors staging the fight in a major stadium, pointing out that Chavez attracted 135,000 for his recent WBC super lightweight title defense against Greg Haugen in Mexico City.

But Duva is opting for The Mirage in Las Vegas. "We'd have 50,000 less seats and still gross more because of ticket prices," said Duva.

Oh, yes, a few folks even remembered that Whitaker had just "disarmed" McGirt, who fought one-handed throughout the scientific but hardly electrifying 12-round match.

There were pre-fight questions concerning the condition of the left shoulder that McGirt injured last January in whipping Mexico's Genaro Leon.

The Las Vegas oddsmakers, who made Whitaker a 12-5 favorite, assumed McGirt still would be handicapped against Whitaker, who was moving up from the junior welterweight class after dominating the lightweight division for three years.

McGirt said he heard a pop in his shoulder in the fourth round and did not fire more than a handful of left hooks the rest of the bout. But even in the first three rounds, he had simply used his left as an ornament.

Whitaker (32-1), known for his dancing feet and dazzling hands, quickly sensed that McGirt posed no knockout threat, and fought in front of the champion, using a minimum of movement. (( The clever left-hander piled up an early lead with his stinging jab and quick combinations and was confident enough to showboat and give away the last two rounds on all three scorecards.

His premature victory celebration a minute before the final bell so incensed McGirt's volatile manager, Al Certo, that he attempted to punch both Whitaker and his co-manager, Lou Duva, before the decision was announced.

Two judges favored Whitaker by one- and two-point margins, but judge Dalby Shirley gave the former Olympic champion a 117-111 vote.

After congratulating himself for his "wonderful performance" and joining boxing legends Barney Ross, Henry Armstrong and Roberto Duran as lightweight champions to also win the welterweight title, Whitaker turned his attention to Chavez.

"This fight should have happened two years ago," said Whitaker, 29. "It's the fight the fans want to see to determine who's the greatest fighter pound-for-pound. I'm not interested in acquiring titles. I just want to fight great fights."

And his strategists, George Benton and Lou Duva, already were busy yesterday plotting ways for Whitaker to whip the heavy-fisted, stoic Chavez, Mexico's biggest sports hero. Meldrick Taylor, another Benton disciple, came within seconds of beating Chavez.

"I like that big sombrero he always wears into the ring," Whitaker said, laughing. "I think I'll steal it from him."

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