Manuel decided he had better find out for himself since Bossman had never been knocked out. "I figured if this guy could do it in a gym, using those big gloves, he must have a whole lot of power," Manuel says. So Manuel made Weaver an offer, and he didn't refuse that one either.
Under Manuel's vigilant eye, Weaver won five bouts before losing to Stan Ward and Leroy Jones. After the Jones fight Manuel exploded. He stormed the dressing room, hit Weaver on the side of the head and cursed him. Then he turned and started to walk out. Weaver pleaded with him to come back.
There has been just one loss since, when Weaver went after Larry Holmes' WBC title and was stopped in the 12th round last June.
But last week he stunned John Tate with a series of blows in the 12th round. Nevertheless, Tate survived the round. In the 13th, to Manuel's horror. Weaver hardly threw a punch. The 14th was only a little better. By now Tate was so far ahead on points that only a knockout could pull it out for Weaver.
As the bell for the 15th rang, Manuel's last orders were explicit, "Go out there and knock him out. If you don't, don't come back."
Since the beginning of the 14th round, the deeply religious Weaver had been reciting the Twenty-third Psalm. He is a member of the International Church of God in Christ. Two years ago his pastor. Mother L. C. Neale, gave him a Star of David, telling him it would bring him happiness and good fortune. He has worn it around his neck since, permitting no one to touch it. The Star of David was tucked inside his left shoe as he fought Tate. With 55 seconds left in the bout he drilled a right hand to the body, followed with a paralyzing hook and added a grazing right as Tate fell.
As Weaver leaped into the air over the prone Tate, he thought, "My God, I'm Rocky."