Pinklon Thomas vs. Mike Weaver

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1985-06-15 : Pinklon Thomas 220¼ lbs beat Mike Weaver 221¼ lbs by TKO at 1:42 in round 8 of 12

By Michael Katz, the New York Times, June 17, 1985

LAS VEGAS, Nev., June 16 — A brilliant light, color it pink, shone on the dark and dank heavyweight division Saturday night. Pinklon Thomas knocked out Mike Weaver with one beautiful right hand, defended his World Boxing Council title and established himself, if not as the true champion, as clearly the best of what often has been a slovenly collection.

Before an assortment of world champions, former world champions and alphabet champions, the undefeated Thomas brought some order to the heavyweight morass with an often-spectacular performance, capped by a right hand that traveled 6 inches to Weaver's temple and ended the scheduled 12-round bout at 1 minute 42 seconds of the eighth round.

Among those looking on at the Riviera Hotel and Casino were the world's two other heavyweight champions, Larry Holmes and Tony Tubbs.

Even Holmes, who has been called "a mouse, a rat," by Thomas, was impressed by his heir apparent's performance in a rare fast-paced heavyweight fight.

"Pinklon Thomas is a great fighter," said Holmes, the International Boxing Federation's champion, "and one of these days he's going to be a great champion - when I leave."

In a way, Holmes has already left the heavyweight picture. The 35-year-old fighter, at the tailend of a brilliant career, is carefully choosing his opponents now and Saturday signed to meet Michael Spinks, the light-heavyweight champion, in September.

The 27-year-old Thomas can claim all he wants to be the "real champion," and even Weaver said Thomas would beat Holmes "right now." But so long as Holmes is around, or until he is defeated in the ring, it is difficult to recognize anyone other than the man who has held the title for seven years, until recently against all comers.

Tubbs, the World Boxing Association version of an undefeated heavyweight champion, said he would "like to settle things with Thomas as soon as possible." But first he must defend against Tim Witherspoon, once again one of the few real contenders in the decision. Witherspoon, whom Thomas beat for the W.B.C. title last Aug. 31, scored a lopsided 12-round victory over James (Bonecrusher) Smith on the undercard Saturday night, following a second-round knockout of James Broad in April.

Don King, the heavyweight promoter, does not envision any unification fight "until Larry leaves the scene." Bob Lee, president of the I.B.F., has said his organization might then recognize the winner of a bout between the W.B.C. and the W.B.A. champions. But he also said it might not.

Meanwhile, Thomas said he would take a brief vacation before defending against "someone easy" after tough bouts with Witherspoon and Weaver - easy, as in Trevor Berbick, who knocked out a sluggish and weak David Bey in the 11th round here Saturday night.

Thomas, a vision of heavyweight class in pink trunks and robe, supplied the division with someone to respect with his performance against the ever-dangerous Weaver. He has always had an explosive left jab - one that Weaver, who has been hit by both, said was "more powerful than Holmes's."

But he showed a champion's chin and fighting spirit. Thomas was cut inside his lower lip in the first round, even while flooring the slow-starting Weaver, and "sucking blood" thereafter, according to his ace cut man and co-trainer, Bill Prezant. But he took Weaver's best shots - his one weakness is defense - in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, and each time responded by attacking.

The fighting spirit inside the ring should have been no surprise, considering that Thomas bounced back from teen-age heroin addiction and has since overcome breaks to both hands and, last October, needed an operation to repair retinal damage to his right eye.

He has a fine chance of becoming a popular champion. The night before the bout, unannounced, he appeared at a record store in one of the worst sections of town to address youths on drug abuse.

He said it has been difficult for him to obtain commercial endorsements because sponsors were worried about the "quick turnover" in heavyweight champions. Until now, there has been little order in a division where Sugar Ray Leonard, the former welterweight champion, decried the "disgraceful lack of pride" displayed by many so-called leading contenders.

"Maybe there ought to be a 225-pound weight limit," said Leonard, "or at least no one should be permitted into the ring with fat hanging down the sides of his trunks."

Leonard said many heavyweights showed "disrespect" for the sport by fighting in much less than their best condition.

It was Bey's turn Saturday night, but even Witherspoon, not to mention Greg Page or Broad, have also been guilty of fighting while out of shape. Page, Gerry Cooney and Michael Dokes appear to have dissipated their outstanding talents, showing little lust for the game.

With three world champions and a host of minor titles, there has been a desperate need for challengers. Things have got so bad that King has promised Alfredo Evangelista, the Spaniard who has been recycled more times than most aluminum cans, another title shot should he win the European championship again, and 41-year-old Joe Frazier is forever tempted to make one more comeback. They should think pink and desist.