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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"I said I'll fight Alexis again and there won't be no black bottle," Pryor says. "And then, after I beat him a second time, I thought I had cleared up the black-bottle thing, but I never got no credit for winning straight up. Then I didn't get one dime [for the Furlano fight]. I quit boxing and give up my title.... Then I laid off for a year and a half, and they don't pay me for my first comeback fight. Three hundred thousand. The promoter. Oh, man, why me?"
In fact, Pryor did receive some payment for the Furlano fight—$50,000 in front money and another $50,000 for training expenses. The dispute with Mangone is over whether any more money is due. In June, Pryor and his manager, Buddy LaRosa, were to fly from Miami to Boston to give depositions in their suit against Mangone. LaRosa says that after trying for four days to hook up with Pryor at the Miami airport, he returned home to Cincinnati. Pryor has earned some $4 million in his eight-year career, but friends say he is heading for financial ruin. LaRosa says that if Pryor doesn't get to Boston soon, the court may dismiss his claim against Mangone.
Now Pryor leans forward, his voice a conspiratorial whisper. "I don't want to elaborate too much because I do hope to fight again, and I don't want to [mess up] my career," he says. "I'm not supposed to mention it. But I'm tired of talking about everything else. Cataracts, cataracts. They told me not to come to Atlantic City or Vegas no more. Because I'm blind in one eye. I want to get my eye fixed and continue to fight."
If Pryor has been banned from fighting for medical reasons, officials in Nevada and New Jersey know nothing about it. "He's not under any suspension here," says Chuck Minker, a Nevada boxing inspector. Bob Lee, the acting commissioner of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission says Pryor is still in good standing in his state. An Atlantic City ophthalmologist, David Smith, did find a cataract in Pryor's left eye before the Hinton fight in March, and the commission warned Pryor to have the problem treated before it hampered his career. But, says Lee, "It wasn't bad enough to prevent him from fighting Hinton. And he's not barred here."
Pryor's eyelids become heavy. His head nods forward. He seems asleep. Then his eyes pop open, blinking, and he rubs them furiously. He calls for Maggie to bring coffee. "Cataracts, yeah," he says. "Then my mother. [I hadn't seen] her for at least a year. And she come up here. I didn't know she was coming, but one day she is here. She says what she's heard."
What she had heard were rumors of her son's drug problem. In July she told the Cincinnati Post that she had seen Aaron use cocaine.
"I got the baby and the van and just left home," Pryor says. "Hey, man! Are you giving me a charge or somethin'? You must be giving me a charge or something, in my eye."
"Something wrong?" the visitor asks.
"Need some coffee. Don't you ever get tired? Down in Florida, it's the air. Yeah, my problems. They started when my mother came here. She came to take over. She was handling my checkbook. I feel I'm back where I started because of my mother. She's got a nice house, a Cadillac, she's never worked. And she never introduced me to my father. About nine years ago I put my mother in an institution. I was only 21. She shot her husband. I was driving a school bus and I went home and they say my mama had shot my dad, my stepdad. I put her in a hospital because she had lost her nerves. I think...." He pauses, shakes his head and sighs. "I think she don't like me because she done those things to me."
Mrs. Pryor would make no comment to SI about her involvement in any shooting. She was ordered into silence by William Hardy, her brother-in-law and Pryor's uncle, who is known to family and friends as Uncle Chocolate. "I'm his uncle and his trainer," he says of Pryor, "and this boy is gonna fight better than ever. You are getting that straight from the horse's mouth."