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Flood was right. Foreman, his arms rolling eerily like heavy tree branches in a high wind, was near exhaustion, but not even that, nor all the water in Biscayne Bay was going to spare Dino Dennis. The fight was stopped at 2:25 of the fourth round. In his dressing room, Dennis had no excuses. "This was a big fight for me," he said. "I came apart. My nerves got to me. The tension got me. It made me tired, and I didn't do anything right."
Said Braverman, "He's still a baby." The baby took eight stitches over his right eye. Why didn't Braverman stop the fight sooner? "I had to see, to be sure," said Al. "Foreman was so tired. I thought he might drop over any second."
Dennis' heart and Braverman's water ballet saved the night for King and television, for the Duran-Rojas title fight, which went on first, was a ridiculous affair. "This was the 26th time he's knocked out Rojas," said a Panamanian. "He's knocked him out 25 other times in the gym." An exaggeration, no doubt, but there is little question that Rojas was a pitiful opponent for the furious punches of Duran. Rojas was knocked out at 2:17 of the first round, leaving him unconscious for a long time. Duran is a little assassin, a quick volume puncher with a fine mean streak in him, yet the Panamanians and the game-playing WBA (the head of it is Dr. Eliasm Cordova Jr., a Panamanian who is related to Duran's manager) have clamped a lock on the lightweight title; tough lightweights like Edwin Viruet are ducked forever.
"Why did you make this match?" King was asked. "Fights like this killed boxing on television."
"It's not my fault," he protested. "The WBA forced me into it."
" Duran does not deserve $125,000 for an opponent like Rojas, does he?"
King just shook his head, then turned the subject back to Foreman, whom he calls his "duration champion," implying that if Ali does come back he should not have the privileges of a champion, that he and Foreman should meet even-up, financially. That surely would be a bout worth seeing: the cerebral Ali, his physical gifts in a sorry state, against Foreman, the magnificent beast or bum, depending on your ring esthetics. It would be hard to bet against Ali, for George Foreman has never been the same since Zaire, and he seems to be a troubled man, often a brooding recluse, forever alert for unseen villains.
The night before each fight now, he has three different meals brought to him by three different aides. No one knows which meal he will choose, or from where it will come. George Foreman, you see, is afraid of being poisoned.