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Don King pulls off his weirdest boxing card ever (with help from the WBA, Florida commission)

29
Jan

It was a better bout than probably most anyone thought it would or could be going in. And, that it even occurred, that has to be properly acknowledged, because a great many folks, even the smarts, didn’t think that Don King would pull off the card he scheduled for Friday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

But Don King did. He hadn’t done a full promotion since 2015, and while this maybe can’t be properly labeled a “full promotion,” it did a decent job of entertaining watchers. Sure, at times, the entertainment value came from the humor at some of the clownfuckery trotted out for us….

The 89-year-old dealmaker, who announced this as his “Return To Greatness” on posters advertising the gala, had only three fights on this promotion, which streamed on his website and Fite TV and featured only two of the six fighters he’d promised you’d see. But even if you want to excoriate him and the WBA and the Florida commission for making a bit of a mockery of the sport, you may want to allow for some leeway, because the main event bout pitting heavyweight Trevor Bryan versus Bermane Stiverne wasn’t half bad.

Trevor Bryan beat Bermane Stiverne on Jan. 29, 2020, atop a Don King Promotions card.

Bryan did a good job parceling out his offense, which allowed him to flurry hard and put Stiverne away in round 11 on the weird and wacky Don King show.

Both men showed up with COVID-era physiques, but both heavyweights came to win. This was no Thrilla in Manilla, but there was decent volume from each man, the 42 year old Stiverne definitely showed up trying to win, and the 31 year old Bryan gave us a solid climax when he ramped it up in round 11.

Bryan, from Albany NY, making Florida home, dropped Stiverne, a Nevada resident, with flurries at the 2:36 mark. The ex champ got up, but was unsteady, and got crumpled again. The ref gave B-Ware a chance but Bryan went at him, and the ref stepped in because Stiverne wasn’t answering.

Stiverne deserves props, because he showed up to win, worked hard, and proved himself a proud professional.

The WBA helped put a dark stamp on this thing, because they didn’t communicate to the public or to the media or anyone outside their small sphere of trickeration in the weeks leading up to the event. That helped contribute to the air of uncertainty which made fight game insiders wary and had some believing that King would pull the plug on the matter. They don’t deserve any ink. I shouldn’t even mention that they called this a WBA title fight after deciding to downgrade Mahmoud Charr.

King, too, has to be blamed, because he was fast and loose in scheduling this event. Calls were going around the day before, with people like Michael Hunter being asked if they wanted to come and fight.

And the Florida commission has to be spotlit, because they offered no guidance, really, as to what this card would consist of. Hell, the venue itself wasn’t even admitting to people who called during fight week that there would be boxing on their property. 

Yes, so much blame can be bandied about, and disgust is to a degree warranted. But you can take the other side of the argument, and note that Bryan and Stiverne gave solid efforts. 

I have spent $20 and regretted it much more, I will say. Check that, $40. I had ordered the event off a Don King affiliated link early in the week. But they never sent me a receipt, and they never sent a reminder link where to find the fights. I found a link that I had thought to stash, but only after I had ordered the card–again!–this time off Fite TV.

Endnotes: We didn’t see Don King once on the PPV card. Not sure why, maybe this was a COVID protocol thing.

The show ended on a fitting note, for me. King offered up three fights from his library, the Frankie Randall win over Julio Cesar Chavez, the Tito Trinidad-Oscar De La Hoya bout and the Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney fight, with the call done by Howard Cosell, solo.

And the stream ended at the beginning of round three of the clash.

I chuckled, because the OG Don King won again. He’d gotten my money, TWICE, and baited and switched and generally made the sport look unprofessional and as shady as Robinhood shutting down GameStop trades so hedge funds could regain their footing to properly cheat the have nots…but I’m used to it.

Only in America, that’s what I thought to myself. You sometimes gotta smile during times like those, the alternative is too bleak, right?

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