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Scorecard July 14, 1997
Edited by Hank Hersch and Kostya Kennedy
July 14, 1997
Don King's Shrunken Stable...Plummeting 10,000-Meter Mark...Sabres Cut Coach of the Year...Protesting Native American Nicknames...wing's Empty Guarantees
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July 14, 1997

Scorecard July 14, 1997

Don King's Shrunken Stable...Plummeting 10,000-Meter Mark...Sabres Cut Coach of the Year...Protesting Native American Nicknames...wing's Empty Guarantees

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ABOVE AVERAGE
New York Yankee Wade Boggs and San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn, the best pure hitters of their time, seem headed in opposite ways. While Gwynn, 37, was voted to this week's All-Star Game, Boggs, 39, pondered life as a Yanks sub. Here are the yearly averages(those in red indicate league leader) that should get them both to Cooperstown:

BOGGS GWYNN

1982

.349

.289

1983

.361

.309

1984

.325

.351

1985

.368

.317

1986

.357

.329

1987

.363

.370

1988

.366

.313

1989

.330

.336

1990

.302

.309

1991

.332

.317

1992

.259

.317

1993

.302

.358

1994

.342

.394

1995

.324

.368

1996

.311

.353

1997

.240

.394

Career

.331

.339

Averages for 1997 through Sunday.

The King's Reign

Boxing sages say that the troubled sport will never change as long as promoter Don King is alive. In the aftermath of Holyfield-Tyson II, King's vital signs appeared seriously weakened: his rhetoric reduced to a few meek words, his assets dwindled, his gloriously erect mane conspicuously gray.

For all his seeming omnipotence, King has relied mainly on the marketability of Tyson for nine years to maintain huge leverage in the fight game. With Tyson having been suspended last week—on Wednesday the Nevada State Athletic Commission was to announce the length of the ban, which was expected to be for at least 18 months—King has little to fall back on. His second-highest-profile client, Oliver McCall, is likely to receive a one-year suspension from the Nevada commission for quitting during the fifth round of his Feb. 7 fight with Lennox Lewis. That leaves King's stable of boxers without an important heavyweight (sorry, Francois Botha fans); his top draws are 35-year-old Julio César Chávez, the once great but now over-the-hill lightweight whose 100th victory on the Tyson-Holyfield undercard was barely noted, and Christy Martin, the woman boxer whose standard payday has been $100,000. The last time King was without Tyson—a four-year span encompassing Tyson's prosecution, conviction and imprisonment for rape—he had McCall, a younger Chávez, heavyweight Razor Ruddock and several other fairly good draws to help him.

After Holyfield-Tyson II, King offered little defense of Tyson in a few brief and uncharacteristically soft-spoken interviews before disappearing from public view. Yet after more than a quarter century of fight promoting, King, who has beaten tax-evasion charges and countless allegations of contract fraud over the years, is nothing if not resourceful. It was he, for example, who orchestrated Tyson's public apology on June 30 for biting Holyfield. King knows that while Tyson may never command anything close to the $30 million he got for fighting Holyfield last month, the former champ still might generate millions when he's allowed back into the ring. The apology was intended to make the date of that return as early as possible.

King has also been spending a lot of time assuaging the powers at MGM and in television who were upset by Tyson's actions. "Don is being very calm; he's acting in a very methodical and thoughtful manner," said Showtime executive Jay Larkin last week. "I think he realizes he has a significant problem on his hand."

A Revolution Afoot

Two years ago at the World Track and Field Championships in Göteborg, Sweden, U.S. distance runner Todd Williams, then a three-time national champion in the 10,000 meters, surveyed the international landscape in his event and concluded that he would have to move up to the marathon to avoid becoming the victim of a record-breaking revolution. "Who knows, they'll probably be running 26:30 in the 10 soon," Williams said. He laughed when he said it, but it turns out he was dead right.

At the time Williams spoke, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia had recently run a 26:43.53, knocking a stunning 8.7 seconds off the year-old world record of William Sigei of Kenya. Then, last August, Salah Hissou of Morocco ran a 26:38.08. Last Friday, in the magical atmosphere of Bislett Stadium in Oslo, Norway, Gebrselassie reclaimed the record by running a 26:31.32, an average of 4:16 per mile for 6.2 miles, even though he ran alone after passing his pacesetter barely 3,000 meters into the race.

There is no indication that the assault is finished. Gebrselassie is only 25 years old. Hissou is also 25, and he will surely attempt to take the record back. Then there looms 21-year-old Daniel Komen of Kenya, who last summer ran a stunning 7:20.67 for 3,000 meters (a 3:57 mile pace for just under two miles) to break the world record of Algeria's Noureddine Morceli by more than four seconds. This came two weeks after he narrowly missed Gebrselassie's 1995 world mark of 12:44.39 in the 5,000, a record that once looked safe—but like all the others, now seems ripe for the taking and taking again.

Leak of Faith

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