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Spalding, aware that it has a hot product, is confident of the outcome of the court cases. "Reebok has no patent, and it cannot lock up simple air-inflation technology by writing up contracts," says Robert Adikes, general counsel for Spalding. "We have orders for hundreds of thousands of these gloves [for delivery] as soon as we get rid of these court cases."
Whatever the legal outcome, the primary piece of evidence will continue to beckon people. Spalding's lawyers, in fact, are hoping that at least one of the judges asks to try on the glove.
Professional boxing has come to this. Last week the rumor mill had 34-year-old actor Mickey Rourke fighting 23-year-old rapper LL Cool J in Tokyo this fall. Apparently, actor Robert Conrad, 56, isn't enough of a challenger for Rourke.
Where do these guys, and washed-up defensive end Mark Gastineau, get off thinking they can step into the prize ring? Oh, that's right. Rourke is a bona fide 1-0 fighter. Got paid for it too, just like Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson.
"There are a lot of guys in the top 20 who could kick my butt," Rourke, a light heavyweight, said recently, "but there's still a lot of guys I can put it to real good." Rourke earned his bragging rights and $1,000 by putting it to Steve Powell for four rounds in Fort Lauderdale on May 23. Powell, 32, had been ranked among Boston's top 20 auto mechanics. Now Rourke can get a W in the Ring Record Book, just like all the ones (230 of them) under Willie Pep's name.
Between rounds of his fight with Powell, Rourke washed out his mouth with Evian water. He probably learned that from Henry Armstrong. Or Fritzie Zivic. Conrad was at the bout, and he walked out after the third round, holding his nose. "This is a bum," Conrad said. "I'd flatten him." Promoters were actually scrambling to arrange a main event between the two thespians. "If we had fought, it would have been the sequel to 9½ Weeks," said Conrad, referring to the Rourke movie that's still playing in France. "We would have called it 9½ Seconds."
Rourke decided it wouldn't be a good second-career move, beating up an old actor and all, so the fight was off. Now we have Rourke vs. Cool J—or is it just J? Rappin' in Japan. Just like the Thrilla in Manila.
But, mon dieu, what would the French movie audiences do if Mickey got hurt—just like so many boxers who actually knew what they were doing?