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Joe Bruno
News Item: HBO feeds Felix Trinidad a French pastry and its viewing audience

    Right before HBO’s Saturday night telecast of the Felix Trinidad-Mamadou Thiam junior middleweight title fight, HBO showcased a movie called “Chain of Command.” Roy Scheider played the President of the United States and his favorite line, which he used twice in the movie, once right before he croaked, was “I may be a lot of things, but I’m not stupid.”

    Well HBO, your viewing audience may be a lot of things too, but for the most part, stupid isn’t one of them either.

    After years of skirmishes reminiscent of the Hatfield’s and the McCoys, HBO and Don King have again entered into an unholy marriage made in hell. A decade ago, HBO’s head honcho Seth “The Shrimp” Abraham and King were all lovey dovey until King took Abraham to the cleaners for a dry clean and burn of Abraham’s cash. Lou DiBella took over HBO’s boxing department,  and Lou immediately put King in his place, which was far outside HBO’s viewing domain. DiBella was so disdainful of King and his tactics, he put a prison picture of King on his office wall, the kind you see in most post offices, to remind him and King of King’s past behavioral patterns. Imagine trying to do business with a man who has your picture on his office wall with you holding little numbers  across your chest, identifying  you during your all-expenses paid vacation at the government’s expense. This might tend to make your bargaining posture a little bent-over forwards, head facing the other way, don’t you think?.

    Last month DiBella resigned, and Kery Davis is now in charge of HBO boxing. Suddenly King, who is the promoter/manager of WBA junior middleweight champ Felix Trinidad, is back in the HBO picture. So much so, the entire Saturday night HBO boxing telecast was dedicated to making Trinidad look like the best fighter since Sugar Ray, and I don’t mean Leonard.

    The pre-fight hype on the tube showed repeated clips of Trinidad chasing Oscar De la Hoya across the ring. A person who didn’t see the Trinidad-De la Hoya fight would never imagine that Oscar won eight and maybe nine rounds of that fight. In fact, Oscar won every round against Trinidad that Oscar was trying to win. Only in the past three rounds when Oscar was so far ahead only a knockout by Trinidad, or a fixing of the judges by King, would give Trinidad the fight, did Oscar start backpedaling and stop punching.

    Then we were fed a WBA title fight of Trinidad versus Frenchman Thiam that so one-sided, the fight, for all practical purposes, was over the first time Trinidad landed a punch. That punch was a first round left uppercut that blew up Thiam’s right eye the size of the Eiffel Tower. After that it was target practice for Trinidad until Thiam wisely turned his back on Trinidad, allowing referee Jorge Alonso to stop the fight at 2:48 of the third round.

    The question that begs to be asked is how an incompetent like Thiam got a tight fight on American TV in the first place. His 34-1 record was built up almost entirely in France, a country not known for it’s warlike inclinations, against names like Robert Muhammad,  Orhan Delibas and Valentino Manca. Rudolph Valentino, and even the designer Valentino probably fought better fighters.

    So after the fight we saw Larry Merchant interviewing Trinidad in center ring, with Don King in the background, smiling like a German cat who just ate a French canary, yelling over Merchant’s voice “Viva La Puerto Rico.”
    Just makes you want to puke.
    The same picture of prison-dog King that DiBella had on his office wall was on my office wall in New York City twenty years ago. I lost the picture in transit when I moved to Florida five years ago. Anyone that has  this picture, please make me a copy. I’d pay big bucks for the pleasure of again seeing King the way he really is, and the way he always will be, with numbers across his chest not indicating the winner of the local state lottery.
    That would be truth in advertising indeed. 

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