There was new reaction yesterday to charges directed against the United States Boxing Championships by heavyweight Scott LeDoux, who touched off a disturbance following a controversial loss to Johnny Boudreaux at the U.S. Naval Academy on Sunday.
LeDoux started a melee near the American Broadcasting Company's television microphone. He punched and kicked Boudreaux. Later he said on the air that the decision was rigged because members of Don King Production controlled most of the other boxers in the tournament, and handpicked the ring officials.
A spokesman for ABC which reportedly put up $1.5 million to air the series of bouts at various sites, said yesterday the network received 291 telephone calls Sunday, all protesting the decision.
Roone Arledge, president of ABC Sports, said "Any challenge to the integrity of the tournament casts a heavy shadow on the promotion as a whole," and publicly offered to admit any rated boxer who was not invited to participate.
Promoter King faced questions about the tournament during a news conference he called yesterday in New York City to announce that George Foreman would fight Jimmy Young in a 12-round heavyweight bout in Puerto Rico on March 17.
Hank Schwartz, who will begin promoting a rival tournament, the "World Television Championships," on March 11, was quoted as saying, "Anybody in the boxing field will realize our tourney is better. We do not manage any fighters or own any fighters. Any fighter who wants to move through the ranks will opt for our series because he does not have to fight a machine."
LeDoux charged Sunday that King his matchmaker, Al Braverman, and Paddy Flood, another King Productions employee, had a financial interest in Boudreaux.
A Naval Academy spokesman has issued a statement, with the approval of the superintendent, that said, in part: "The academy did not participate in the selection of the fighters, the appointment of the judges or the format of the program. The event was held as a part of the community relations and recruiting programs of the Navy, at no expense to the government.
"We regret the incident because it was a good program otherwise."
James A. Farley Jr., chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, who was asked to serve on a U.S. Boxing Championships committee, said he agreed to select ring officials from around the country and supervise boxers' physical examinations to help boxing grow and increase interest in the lighter divisions.
He said he asked the three officials who judged the LeDoux-Boudreaux bout why they voted for Boudreaux and, "They all gave good reasons."
Farley pointed out that King had obtained affidavits from managers and "The Ring" magazine - which is seeding the participants - in which managers said they were not giving kickbacks to King.
Farley said that he is staying with King's group at this point. "I think the allegations by LeDoux about the ring officials are irresponsible; the officials are all well-known."
The spokesman for ABC said the series will continue at a correctional institution in Marion, Ohio, on March 6.
He noted that ABC had received affidavits from the promoter about no kickbacks being paid by boxers before the first series of bouts, on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lexington at Pensacola, Fla.
"Therefore, we are offering to become more involved. Any rated professional boxer who feels he should have been invited and wasn't should call us at ABC Sports. We will use our influence with the promoters "to see he gets a chance."
Robert Turley, president of the North American Boxing Federation, was quoted: "I feel that someone must expose the (King's) tournament for what it is. It is merely a promotional tournament for the benefit of its sponsors. It is not recognized or sanctioned by the prominent governing bodies of boxing in this country."