FIGHTS TONITE. Trouble this morning.
Bennie Georgino—bail bondsman, saloon owner, fight manager, at age 60 no longer a lightweight—descends a staircase, his shoulders roiling like an angry sea. It's 10:43 on a Thursday morning, and as Georgino walks down a corridor in the Olympic Auditorium, the fight arena at 18th and South Grand in downtown Los Angeles and the last bucket of blood left in America, he isn't smiling.
"Struggling," Georgino says. "I'm struggling. We had a fighter fall out this morning. Abedoy. The guy who was supposed to fight Montes."
Johnny Montes, 20 years old, 20-0, a promising lightweight, had been scheduled to go 10 rounds tonight against Manuel Abedoy. That isn't going to happen now, and Georgino, who manages Montes, is aggravated. "There's nothing I can do," he says. "But Don is upstairs going crazy."
In his office tucked in a corner under the arena's octagonal balcony, Don (War-A-Week) Chargin, the Olympic's matchmaker, is working the phones. There are two of them, each with 15 lines, and they're blinking like the tote board at Churchill Downs on Derby day. There are 15 minutes before the weigh-in, and Chargin has six fights scheduled. But he has only 11 fighters to step on the scale.
"Abedoy's manager called me at one o'clock this morning," Chargin says. "The flipping fighter disappeared. His wife doesn't know where he is. His manager doesn't know where he is. He's had something like 50 fights. He just gave Tony Baltazar a tough 10 rounds. He's past disappearing because he's scared."
Lately, this kind of thing has been happening all too frequently. Twice in the preceding two months Chargin has had to alter cards on 48 hours' notice because his headliner—a welterweight from Guadalajara—couldn't get a work visa. A couple of weeks ago he found a substitute at four o'clock for a bout that was to begin at eight.
Chargin is calling San Diego and Las Vegas and San Diego again. Eric Bonilla, a journeyman with a 28-20-4 record, would be a suitable opponent for Montes. He's willing and able to fight, he's in shape and he knows how to get to the Olympic. Moreover, $1,500 for a night's work sounds good to him. However, there's a small problem. Fifteen days earlier, in a fight in Las Vegas, Bonilla was involved in an incident which resulted in his mistakenly being placed on suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. There are still six days left on the suspension and Chargin has to get the Nevada commission to clear Bonilla so the California commission will allow the fighter to work tonight.
"They're making an old man out of me," says Chargin, who's 54. "But what kills me is that it was such a good fight. It isn't easy to get fights for Montes."
By the time of the weigh-in, though, Bonilla is set, Georgino is satisfied, and Chargin feels young again.