A 10-year veteran with nine title fights to his credit, the 55-year-old Curtis had been chosen as referee only that morning at a meeting of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. "Kim was all they stressed at that meeting," he said. "And Kim was always in the back of my head." A day later, Roy Tennison, executive secretary of the commission, delivered a rare reproof, saying, "I think the ref overreacted because of all the safety talk. I recommend a rematch based on his stopping the fight too early and on Weaver's reaction [in the ring]. Weaver was real sharp and knew what he was doing."
Weaver, in fact, didn't do much of anything Friday night, which seems to be a pattern with him. He had fought only twice since he had knocked out John Tate for the title in March 1980, just when it seemed that Tate was about to add another loss to Weaver's mediocre record (22-9-0 upon winning the crown). His two title defenses were mildly courageous—particularly when he stopped Gerrie Coetzee after being hurt—but altogether lackluster. He has been totally eclipsed in the none-too-broad shadow of Holmes, the WBC title-holder who TKO'd Weaver in 1979. According to Bobby Lewis, Dokes's owlish trainer with the bristle-brush mustache, Weaver looks like Hercules—a nickname he despises—but fights like Hamlet: reflectively, if at all. Lewis had already beaten Weaver, with Duane Bobick in 1974, and was training Ron Lyle when Weaver came in as a sparring partner. "He left after about three days," Lewis recalls. "I didn't think he had the heart. So the plan was, go get him."
Dokes, out of Akron, had shown the speed of some welterweights on his way to a 25-0-1 record. He hasn't been knocked down since his amateur days when, at 17, he ran up against the great Teofilo Stevenson. That fight is notable in retrospect, because Dokes came out against the Cuban the same way he would against Weaver, wild-eyed and snorting. Stevenson dropped him in the first, but Dokes came back the same way in the final two rounds and roughed up Stevenson badly before losing a split decision. As a pro, Dokes's decisions over Tex Cobb and George Chaplin were undistinguished, but he had impressive KOs of such unworthies as Ossie Ocasio, John L. Gardner, Harry Terrell, Lynn Ball and Franco Thomas, whom he put away in an aggregate of 11 rounds. By Friday night he went in as nearly a 3-1 favorite.
The new champion didn't show up at the press conference following his triumph—he went back to the hotel and climbed into a bathtub that had been half filled with Taittinger champagne. Weaver, showing a three-inch line of swelling over his right temple, did appear, sitting next to his manager, Don Manuel, and Audrin, both of them red-eyed. Manuel said, "The last thing I told Mike before the bell rang was to watch out for the early rush. 'If Dokes throws a lot of punches, and you don't throw any, they'll stop the fight.' It was just like it was scripted." But Manuel stopped short of the word fix. Dokes, who appeared later in a champagne-soaked red robe outside his room, didn't, though. When asked about the charges, he said fiercely, "Do you think the knockdown was a fix? Do you? Do you?" Then he smiled as broadly as possible for someone who isn't Don King. "Did you want another Duk Koo Kim?" he asked.