Set aside Madison Square Garden's "ironclad" arrangement for Muhammad Ali to defend the heavyweight championship against Earnie Shavers in September. Forget Top Rank Inc.'s plans to sign Jimmy Young to fight Ken Norton for the No. 1 contender's spot. There's no keeping Don King out of the act.
The flamboyant ex-con was only playing rope-a-dope with his promotional setbacks over the U.S. Boxing Championships discolorations and the less-than-classic Ali fight with novice Alfredo Evangelista in Capital Centre. King waggled a bejeweled pinky at the world to come listen in New York yesterday and announced.
(1) He has Ali and ninth-ranked Alfio Righetti of Italy signed for a title bout somewhere around mid-July, somewhere. (2) He has signed Young for a Norton match and is San Diego-bound to discuss same with Norton's manager. Bob Biron. (3) He will promote a June 25, Saturday afternoon on ABC-TV, title bout, ABC lightweight champion Esteban DeJesus vs. unbeaten Vicente Saldivar in San Juan. (4) He will stage a July title match, WBA lightweight chamo Roberton Duran vs. Edwin Viruet in Panama.
Top Rank's Bob Arum had been pursuing Young to close the Norton deal but Young's manager, Jack Levin, said in Philadelphia that King (who promoted Young-Ali at Cap Centre and Young-George Foreman this year) "made us a better deal" - "in the neighborhood" of $1.5 million, King said Norton's manager, Biron, had the word from the World Boxing Council in Mexico City that it would make it mandatory that the Norton-Young victor, must be Ali's next challenger (assuming he gets by Righetti).
Where does that leave Shaver? May be in the same boat as the Japanese wrestler, Antonio Inoki, who proclaimed yesterday in Tokyo that he had a rematch of last July's "martial arts championship" fiasco with Ali agreed upon for late this year or early next, Ali's trainer, Angelo Dundee, said in Miami Beach it was news to him. The president of the World Boxing Association, Elias Cordova of Panama, said, "The WBA will strip Ali of his world title if he fights Inoki in a rematch," in fact any ranking boxer would be stripped of his rank if he met any artial arts specialist - a prohibition decided upon at the WBA convention in D.C. last August . . .
When the Touchdown Colb salutes Young for his boxing achievements at a $7.50-a-plate (phone 223-1542) luncheon at noon Monday, also honored will be D.C. basketballers-made-good Adrian Dantley and Larry Wright . . .
The "secret" campus where the major league baseballs are being tested - shot by a conpressed-air cannon against a wall of the wood from which bats are made - turns out to be U. of Missouri-Rolla. Two doctors of mathematics and a doctor of mechanical engineering are to report to American League president Lee MacPhail any day now on the properties of what Rawlings hath wrought as Spalding's successor.But, again, what's the gripe? Only 1,113 home runs a game against 1.76 in 1970 and 1.91 in record 1961). Who needs action-unpacked years like 1968 when the NL had only 891 homers, when Oakland led the AL in team batting with 2.40 while the Yankees hit .214, when Denny McLain won 31 games and posted a 1.96 ERA that was only fourth best in the AL while Bob Gibson ws burning a 1.12 in the NL? . . .
If the new ball is so lively, why Cleveland's Dennis eckersley have a shot a Cy Young's 73-year-old record of 23 consecutive hitless innings pitched tonight at Seattle - he needs 6 2/3 to surpass Young, and 5 1/2 to beat Johnny Vandermeer's mark in the other league bookeeoers who tally total attendance running at a pace toward a season's 18 million that would break the NL record of 17,324,857 set in 1971 . . .