Last week's announcement by Don King that Donovan (Razor) Ruddock had agreed to pull out of his scheduled June 28 rematch with former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson—a bout for which Ruddock had been guaranteed $6.5 million—raised a host of questions and as many seemingly contradictory answers. According to King, Tyson's promoter, Ruddock "agreed to step aside and agreed to let Mike Tyson fight Evander Holyfield for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world." King added that he would have no difficulty in making the deal for a Holyfield-Tyson fight with Holyfield's management team of Dan Duva and Shelly Finkel.
Meanwhile, Ruddock's promoter, Murad Muhammad, insisted that Ruddock pulled out of the bout because Muhammad was banned for a year from promoting fights in Nevada and fined $25,000 for his role in the brawl that erupted following Tyson's controversial TKO of Ruddock on March 18 in Las Vegas. Other boxing insiders indicated that Ruddock sought a postponement to give his sore left shoulder and biceps a chance to mend. Muhammad denied a report that King had paid Ruddock $2 million to step aside, saying his fighter would receive only $100,000 to $200,000 in expenses.
Left scrambling by the cancellation was Steve Wynn, whose Mirage casino in Las Vegas was to have hosted Tyson-Ruddock II. According to Duva, Wynn called him at 3 a.m. last Thursday, just a few hours after King had made his announcement, hoping to salvage his now-KO'd June 28 extravaganza by substituting Holyfield for Ruddock, even though that would give Holyfield barely a month to prepare. Wynn, said Duva, wanted to know if Holyfield would take $20 million to fight Tyson on that date. "I said, 'Am I dreaming this? No, thank you,' " says Duva.
No matter what King says, Duva maintains there have been no negotiations yet on a Holyfield-Tyson match. "King is getting desperate," he says. "He promised Tyson a rematch with Buster Douglas. He didn't deliver. He promised him a fight with the winner of Douglas-Holyfield. He didn't deliver. He promised him the WBC would strip Holyfield. He didn't deliver. I think Tyson said, 'Forget it. Get me Holyfield.' " Indeed, Holyfield can afford to wait, with his next three bouts (including a rematch with George Foreman next April) lined up. But still, Duva knows that Holyfield-Tyson is the match to make. If Tyson-Ruddock II is truly dead, expect Holyfield-Tyson I in late September or late October.
"There are no negatives for that fight," says Duva. "It's a home run."
Run and Chute
Training is becoming a drag for some athletes
When Al Miller, the Denver Bronco strength and conditioning coach, asked running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs to strap small parachutes onto their backs before running sprints in spring workouts, the players howled with laughter. "I chuckled at first, too," Miller says of the parachute-training concept, the brainchild of a Soviet track coach who brought the idea with him when he immigrated to the U.S. last year. "But when you think about it, it makes sense. It does not alter the technique of the sprinter, and it puts direct resistance on the muscles used in sprinting."
After a few weeks of experimentation, the results are impressive. For example, running back Blake Ezor has lowered his time in the 40-yard dash from 4.77 to 4.63 seconds, an improvement Miller attributes largely to the chutes.
The inventor, Ben Tabachnik, began marketing parachutes through a Memphis-based company called All-Star Athletic last year. The chutes attach to a belt that the athlete wears around his waist and come in three sizes: 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5 feet in diameter. There is no rip cord: The chute drags behind the runner, inflating as his speed increases.
The Speed Chutes, as they are called, sell for $60 to $80 apiece. Miller heard about them at a coaches' clinic and ordered 20. So far, more than 1,000 have been sold to pro, college and high school teams for football, hockey, track and other sports. The Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots and New York Giants are the other NFL clubs using the chutes. And Tabachnik's invention may have nonhuman applications. A smaller version is being used by a greyhound trainer who hopes to turn slow-pawed sloggers into champions. It's called the Pooch Chute.