Associated Press - March 2, 2004
By FRED LIEF AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Don King stretched a Polish flag across his chest while clutching two small American flags in his left hand. He was hardly on a
The boxing promoter is backing Andrew Golota in an April 17 bout at Madison Square Garden. The fight against IBF champion Chris Byrd could help
clarify a heavyweight division left unsettled by Lennox Lewis' retirement.
``Golota's got intestinal fortitude,'' King said. ``He's got power. It's up to him how he uses it.''
The Golota-Byrd bout was one of several title fights announced Tuesday on a card billed as ``The Next Era Begins.'' In the other heavyweight bout, WBA
champion John Ruiz will meet Fres Oquendo.
Jose Rivera will defend his WBA welterweight title against Ricardo Mayorga; WBA cruiserweight champ Jean-Marc Mormeck will face Virgil Hill; and Wayne
Braithwaite, the undefeated WBC cruiserweight champ, will defend against Louis Azille.
Also Tuesday, Felix Trinidad announced the end of his retirement of nearly two years. He rejoins a sport where he won titles as a welterweight, junior
middleweight and middleweight.
``I wasn't wrong when I retired,'' he said through an interpreter. ``I just changed my mind.''
The Puerto Rican star will return as a middleweight, and King said a fight is set with Shane Mosley, provided Mosley beats Winky Wright on March 13 in
King lauded Lewis for a commanding career and graceful retirement, but thinks his departure will serve boxing well.
``Many don't recognize all that Lennox Lewis has done,'' King said. ``I applaud him for exiting on a high note. He opened the door for others.''
Golota, who was born in Poland and lives in Chicago, is 38-4 with 31 knockouts. In Byrd (37-2, 20 KOs), he will be facing a fighter who defeated
Evander Holyfield and Oquendo in his last two bouts.
Golota has a history of crude tactics in the ring. But King says he will see to it that his fighter avoids low blows, which resulted in
disqualifications in two 1996 fights against Riddick Bowe.
``He's not going below, he's going above,'' King said. ``I'll have a golf club in my corner.''
The last time Golota fought at the Garden was against Bowe. The bout ended in mayhem, with spectators storming the ring.
``We will not tolerate any nonsense,'' said Ron Scott Stevens, chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission.
Ruiz (39-5-1, 27 KOs) last fought in December, beating Hasim Rahman in a decision for the interim WBA heavyweight title. Ruiz was awarded the belt
when Roy Jones decided not to fight him.
Oquendo (24-2, 15 KOs) lost a decision to Byrd in September for the IBF heavyweight title. Now he gets another shot at the crown.
``I'm going to take advantage of this like never before,'' Oquendo said.