Davey Moore stood in front of a mirror in his $800 blue Giorgio Armani suit, watching his fingers knot his green and purple silk tie. It was 5 a.m. Sunday in Monte Carlo, and the former WBA junior middleweight world champion had been drinking champagne and partying all night in the piano bar downstairs in Loew's Casino and Hotel, but for him the party of his life—his new life, that is, his second life as a prize fighter—was just beginning. Late as it was, he said, "I'm going to a party outside the hotel."
Just five hours earlier in Louis II Stadium, before a crowd of 3,000 that included Prince Rainier, Moore had scored a second-round technical knockout over Wilfred Benitez. An overhand right in the first round had splayed Benitez's legs like a newborn foal's, his right ankle breaking as he hit the canvas. Then in the second, Moore had clubbed a stationary Benitez until Gerlando Lucia, the referee, called a halt.
"The first round he came to me, and I was waiting for him," Moore said minutes after the fight. "I told you what I was gonna do to him."
"Bop, bop and over the top," his trainer, Johnny Persol, crowed.
In Moore's room at Loew's at 4 a.m., Persol was lying on the floor with a tray of miniature liquor bottles at hand. He was finishing off one drink and about to pour himself another when he shook his right leg in the air.
"I never saw Benitez's legs go like this before," he said. " Thomas Hearns fought him, Roberto Duran fought him, Ray Leonard fought him, but nobody ever knocked him out or beat him like Davey Moore did tonight. Nobody ever completely destroyed him like Davey did." Persol looked up. "Anybody who only thought Benitez was finished knows it after tonight," he said. "If there's any doubt that he had anything left, Davey Moore removed it."
Moore grinned. "My mother said to me after the fight, ' Benitez might as well get himself a job.' "
Moore's mother was as accurate as Davey's punches had been. Though Benitez is only 25 and has held the junior welterweight (which he won at age 17), welterweight and junior middleweight titles, he hasn't won an important fight since he decisioned Duran on Jan. 30, 1982. "At one time he was the best fighter in the world," said Teddy Brenner, matchmaker for Top Rank, which promoted this bout as the GRAND GALA DES CHAMPIONS.
Benitez had won upwards of $7 million but had squandered that fortune, just as he had his talent, and had come to Monte Carlo so deeply in debt to the U.S. Government that he might never get out. "He didn't pay his taxes," said Bob Arum, the president of Top Rank. For this fight Benitez earned $60,000 to Moore's $110,000. Benitez had shed his longtime manager, Jimmy Jacobs, and was back with his father, Gregorio, proclaiming he had found a new sense of order and purpose in his life—had found it in his marriage last year to his childhood sweetheart, Isabel, and in the birth of their daughter three months ago: "She brought me back to discipline," Benitez said. "I was sleeping for 24 years. I have waked up."
In religion: "God is alive! The Bible is a good story."