"Danny and I fight like cats and dogs sometimes," says Duva, "but I'm not going to lie and say I never talk to him [about the family business]. I participate in the decisions." Duva comanages top-ranked heavyweight contender Evander Holyfield with attorney Ken Sanders, but Sanders negotiates all of Holyfield's contracts with Main Events. "If I'm negotiating with Dan Duva, I'm going to have an easier time of it than Lou because I can say no." says Sanders. "You know they're going to agree to something."
In the 1956 boxing melodrama The Harder They Fall, the press agent played by Humphrey Bogart delivers a withering description of boxing to a group of managers: "All you do is spot a strong kid, buy him a license for $10, rent a towel for a dime and toss him in the ring. For that you grab a third of his purse. You steal another third by padding the expense account. Then you cheat half of what's left by giving him a fast shuffle. You're the managers, that's for sure."
Even though he is in an ideal position to give his fighters a fast shuffle, Duva can't do it. He's an old-fashioned alchemist, taking kids from the amateur ranks and transforming them into champions. He has spent the last two years trying to change Holyfield from a cruiserweight champ into a heavyweight worthy of challenging Tyson. The rest of the family has dubbed this mission the Omega Project, although Duva refers to it as the Amigo Project. Last month. Holyfield took a step closer to a date with Tyson with a brutal 10th-round knockout of Michael Dokes.
Whatever the outcome of the Omega Project. Holyfield will remain part of Duva's extended family. (He also has a restaurant, whose chef is one of his sons-in-law.) "I'm the patriarch of this here whole organization," says Duva. Of late, he has been squiring Darlene Baldinelli. the 36-year-old manager of a sports bar in Baltimore, but he says he still misses Enes too much to consider remarrying.
Duva doesn't come home as much now that Enes is gone. When he does, he spends most of his time dreaming up matches with Casey. When she was still small, she went to him one night and said. "Grandpa, tell me a story." Duva pulled her up on his lap and began.
"He said he was going to tell her the story of the Littlest Angel." says Dan. "We were all kind of amazed and pleased that they were finally talking about something other than boxing, so we tiptoed out of the room and left them alone. The next day Casey told us about the story. It turned out the Littlest Angel was Angel Ortiz, a bantamweight from Newark."