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Heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe's first-round destruction of Michael Dokes on Feb. 6 left such an odor that Bowe's handlers last week tried to perfume the air. Raising hopes of an imminent showdown between Bowe and Lennox Lewis, the one heavyweight bout everyone wants to see, Bowe's manager, Rock Newman, made a splashy offer to the Lewis camp: a $32 million, winner-take-all fight in June in Las Vegas.
Trouble is, Newman knew his offer was one Lewis's camp could only refuse. Neither boxer would dare risk everything in a bout that might be decided by Las Vegas judges. Moreover, Newman laced his offer with a poison he knows has no antidote: Lewis would first have to renounce his WBC championship, his one claim to titular legitimacy. Bowe is the IBF and WBA champ, but the WBC stripped him of its crown in January for refusing to make his first defense against Lewis.
It remains unlikely that a Bowe-Lewis fight will take place anytime soon. Instead, the two fighters will yawn their way through a succession of lesser bouts, collecting paychecks at minimal risk as they build the gate for their eventual meeting, probably in mid-1994. That's the way it's done in boxing, a sport that has always been perfume resistant.
When two more star basketball players transferred recently to Martin Luther King High, coaches at the six other schools in the Chicago Public League's Red-Central Section decided they had had enough. They vowed to have their teams boycott games with King to protest the way the Jaguars have benefited from a liberal transfer rule that allows Chicago students to move to other city high schools to pursue an academic program if the program is not offered at their own schools.
The target of the boycott was King's bejeweled, sax-playing coach, Landon (Sonny) Cox, who has stocked the Jaguars with more talent than most college teams. Cox has been accused of misrepresenting his players' academic accomplishments and of accepting money from college recruiters, charges he denies. He has a 319-33 record in 12 years at King and has won four city and two state championships since 1986. His current juggernaut, which as of Sunday was 21-0 and ranked second in the nation by USA Today, features two agile 7-foot seniors, Rashard Griffith and Thomas Hamilton, and so many gifted transfers—eight since last season—that Toporis Nash, a 6'6" junior who was averaging 28 points a game when he transferred on Feb. 4 from Near North High, may not even start.
The boycott by Cox's rivals was meant to slow his efforts to load up on talent before July 1, when a new state athletic association rule tightening transfer procedures will take effect. The boycott lasted exactly one game, which Gage Park High forfeited to the Jaguars on Feb. 4. It ended after Chicago school officials said they would see if existing rules had been flouted. Robeson High coach Charles Redmond, who had resigned when his principal ordered the school's team to play its scheduled game with King, resumed coaching in time to see his Raiders get pasted 81-62 last week by the Jaguars. Afterward, Cox said of his fellow coaches, "If they don't want to coach, they should retire."
The transfer rule has also been exploited by other schools, as when three players from South Shore and one from Vocational transferred to Carver last year. The flood of transfers has given Chicago what amounts to high school free agency. At the moment Cox is merely exploiting it better than anyone else.