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The long-playing Larry Holmes road show closed—maybe—at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas last Friday night. The last performance was shortened from 15 acts to a few seconds shy of 10 when referee Carlos Padilla grew weary of seeing the International Boxing Federation heavyweight champion rattle hard right hands off the lumped and dazed head of plumpish David Bey.
And so Padilla earned the gratitude of pudgy people everywhere when he moved in and muzzled Holmes with two seconds left in the round. No one, it appeared, was more relieved than the 233�-pound Bey, who had been knocked down twice in the eighth round, although later he could recall falling only once.
"That's it," Holmes said after he earned $1.525 million in raising his record to 47-0. He had been saying for weeks that Bey would be his 18th and final title defense. However, he has given the world's promoters until June 9—the seventh anniversary of his 15-round decision over Ken Norton, which won him the WBC title—to come up with enough gold to change his course.
"I want a lot of money and no more of those big hitters like Tim Witherspoon and Mike Weaver," said Holmes, narrowing the field to almost nobody. "I've paid my dues, and if they want me back, they've got to give me little people I can beat on without getting hurt."
The 35-year-old champion suggested that $3 million would entice him out of his rocking chair in Easton, Pa. to fight Michael Spinks, the light heavyweight champion. And, grinning, he said, "Only $2 million for either Tommy Hearns or Marvin Hagler."
" Cooney?" Holmes said with a sneer. "Sure, I'd fight him again. But I'd want $25 million. That means I've priced myself right out of the market. I don't want to fight him because it would bring out all that racial discrimination crap again. That's why I want $25 million, because I know nobody can pay it."
All this was said before he fought Bey, a 4-to-1 underdog. Like Holmes, Bey was undefeated, but he had had only 14 fights, most of them against guys with names like Alf Coffin or Lon Bumpers or Larry Belfus. His best victory was his last, a 12-round decision over Greg Page seven months ago; Page has since won the WBA championship by knocking out Gerrie Coetzee.
For Page, Bey weighed an unsvelte 224� pounds. Two days before his fight with Holmes, he was proudly showing off his new body, all 237 pounds of it. "I weigh more," he explained, "but I'm trimmer. It's just that my muscles are getting heavier."
"Muscles don't get heavier," he was told.