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Holmes? "Take the jab away from Larry and he'll come down to where I am," Frazier said.
Weaver? "He'd be a pushover," he said.
Cooney? "A big kid with one hand," he said.
So Frazier came back, he says, to fill a void in the ranks. He received $73,000 as his purse, with $12,000 more for expenses, but he earns $70,000 a year from investments made in his glory days and he doesn't need to fight to live comfortably. Yet, he said before the fight, "I always need money. I love to spend money. I love to party. I have the ability, the energy, the know-how. Why take all that energy and know-how and party with it? Why waste it?"
The decision to come back was made last December, says Marvis Frazier, Joe's son, the heavyweight. But the old man had been thinking about it for at least a year before that. "It's not pride, not ego, not money," says his adviser, Sharon Hatch. "There's no Frazier out there, no Ali, no Joe Louis. He was restless, bored. He believes he can still do it."
Frazier never really left the gym after his retirement. He claims he has been training in his own place in Philadelphia the last few years, running with his fighters in the morning, working out regularly on the bags and keeping himself reasonably fit. To convince a reluctant family that he still knew what he was doing in the ring, he had his wife, Florence, and his three daughters, Welta, Natasha and Jonetta, come to the gym as he sparred with three heavyweights—Marvis, Pinklon Thomas and former contender Jimmy Young. "I was impressed," Marvis says.
After a couple of false starts, including a prospective fight with Scott LeDoux that never got off the ground, Frazier signed to fight Cummings. Jumbo says he grew up in Getback, Miss, and that his nickname derived from his prison days, when he weighed 275 pounds. He had slimmed down to 223�. Frazier was 229, 23� more than when he beat Ali. Cummings' biggest fight, such as it was, came last March when he lost a unanimous decision to Renaldo Snipes, who lost to Holmes last month. Frazier and Cummings are amiable fellows, and there was about as much animosity between them as between Laurel and Hardy.
"We got to make the old men proud," Ali said.