Dokes said fine. The next afternoon the two went at it in the ring. At one point Woodward, acting as referee, called for a break. Dokes stepped back and Jackson hooked him twice in the mouth. Later they went outside and did it all over again in the street.
"Since then he's sharpened up," says Jackson. "I guess he felt bad because I made him look bad. But he's a good kid."
"Yeah," says Pryor, a veteran 132-pounder with 150 KOs and only 12 losses in 190 fights. "Dokes was out in Las Vegas recently and all those pros kept offering him money and telling him how good he is. He thinks he's another AH. I told him there's only one Ali."
Jackson agrees. "I don't care who he thinks he is as long as he works while a part of this team. His mouth is starting to run off a little again. Maybe I'll have to cut him down to a 146-pounder again."
Dokes dismisses the incident as a misreading of his motives. "I just needed a little time to get it together," says the young man with the zippy wardrobe, most of it designed and some of it sewn by himself. At South High in Akron all but one of his classes are in home economics. "It took a lot of training and a lot of fighting just to get here, and I was tired. There's no more dedicated fighter than I am. I know what I am and just where I'm going, and I know the right way to get there. I'm going to be heavyweight champion of the world, and I'll work just as hard as I have to. But I don't want anybody to think I want to be champion just for the money. I don't want to be a millionaire. I just want to be able to live like one."
The consensus of those who have seen him fight is that the only thing that stands between Michael Dokes and the rich life is his own head. He is an excellent boxer with only fair power but very fast hands and quick feet. When he was 15 he ran the 100 in 10.1. Early in his career there was pressure for him to play both football and basketball and to run track. But he rejected all appeals.
Ever since Dokes became the national AAU and the Golden Gloves runner-up at the illegal age of 15, the professionals have made it impossible for anyone to forget boxing within the Dokes household. That's when the first offers began to come in, and hardly a week has passed since when someone hasn't phoned with a deal that would make the family instantly rich.
"But that's all they are, just offers," says Dokes. "They offer you this and they offer you that, but what they give you is something else. I don't even listen to them any more. The longer I wait the more valuable I get. Joe Frazier just bought Duane Bobick and what he paid couldn't get my leg. A hundred thousand. What's that? I feel maybe in another year I might be worth $2 million."
Woodward listens to Dokes and shakes his head. "He'd be a lot better off if people would stop telling him how great he is," the coach says. "Right now he's a good fighter, a little lazy, with a lot of promise. But nothing is going to happen unless he gets his body and his head together. There's a lot of good fighters waiting to get at him, including Teofilo Stevenson, that big, tough Cuban Olympic champion. Telling Dokes how great he is isn't going to help him stop Stevenson's right hand."
Dokes scoffs at Woodward's worrying. "Shoot, the Cuban hasn't got anything but a right hand. And if he thinks he's going to hit me with it, when I get to gliding and sliding, he's nuts."