"I don't want to talk about that contract," says Art Rivkin, a vice-president and general manager of the Coca-Cola bottling company in San Diego, and one of Norton's managers. "I'll just say it was an unlivable offer, one we would never acquiesce to. There is no way we are going to tie up into an unknown situation. There was no definition as to where the so-called fight would be held, or who the promoter would be. We simply want to know who we are climbing in bed with. We staunchly guard our independence. We have no connections, and because of that Ken literally had to claw his way up. The bout before the one with Ali, Ken made $300 fighting before 400 people. It was a grind but we don't have the obligations other fight managers get into."
Rivkin smiled. He knew he had only to look to Foreman's camp and at what had happened to Foreman to illustrate his point.
The contract between Sadler and Foreman ran out recently. There will not be another, at least nothing in writing. "I'll never sign another contract with anyone," Foreman says, not meaning, of course, that he will not sign a contract for another fight. "If a man can do something for me, then he can shake my hand and take my word. Dick will always be in my corner. But our agreement will be verbal."
And, ah, how does he feel making his first title defense against a stiff? Foreman sighs. He is a nice and understandably naive youngster. "There are no stiffs," he says. "Not when you get up around 200 pounds. I've been called a stiff and I felt I had the best right hand in boxing." He chuckles. "Of course, I didn't always hit what I aimed at."
He should hit Joe Roman without difficulty, however, and now that things seem to be moving again among the heavyweights, maybe even some more formidable types.