Don King, who had been on the defensive himself over mismatches in his suspended United States Boxing Championships tournament, chortled at extreme length yesterday about a rival promoter's production.
King said Leon Spinks is "being thrown to the wolves" against Muhammed Ali Wednesday night in Las Vegas. Then he laughed and laughed.
"The promoter is the culprit, just for a few dollars," he said of Bob Arum of Top Rank, Inc. "Spinks' management got hungry, too.
"To be very candid, it is a sophisticated amateur fighting a legend. I would never promote such a bout.
"Spinks is just out of the Olympics; he is not prepared. He fought Scott LeDoux and it was a life-and-death bout for him. I thought LeDoux won (it was voted a draw).
"Of course, there is always the possibility of an upset. But I think Spinks' chances are slim and none.
"Spinks is a valuable property, but they are throwing him to the wolves a little too soon. In another year, he might be ready.
"I even heard his manager (Millard Barnes) say on NBC that Spinks is not ready, but somebody got to him. They got to Spinks. They hushed up Barnes and the fight is going on.
"One day Spinks was 'not ready' and the next day he was. That tells you something."
Spinks has won six of his seven bouts as a professional and has fought a total of 31 rounds.
"Maybe I would have promoted an 'option' (a tuneup and easy payday) bout for Ali," King went on. "But the challenger would have had, say, a 21-1 or 20-0 record to substantiate it being a title bout. He would have to be ranked. I would not compromise my principles.
"This one doesn't provide, visuslwise, the quality representitive of a title bout."
When King was under attack with the American Broadcasting Co., which funded his tournament, he blamed naval networks and promoters for disparaging his efforts.
Yesterday he said, "The (CBS) network is not responsible for Ali-Spinks. The promoters make the matches. The mantle should rest on the promoter; he sells them to the network.
"My competitors conspire against me," he said, naming Madison Square Garden, "but I put on four championship bouts this year . . . all dynamite . . . classics - Duran and deJesus, Escalera and Arguello, Duran and Viruet, Norton and Young. I'm peerless; that's not braggadocio but fact.
"It is important to put on top quality, not to rest on the past . . . champions against champions. New York is being deprived of quality boxing because the principals at the Garden were archaic and obsolete.
"I'm settling up a conversation with the (new) master at the Garden, Sonny Werblin. He's a flamboyant promoter himself, a genius. I hope to be the new matchmaker there."
King said, "I don't condone what Ali is doing (fighting Spinks in Las Vegas), but I understand. Ali deserves a payday. But the main reason I promoted Norton-Young was because Ali told me to do that and he would fight the winner.
"Ali said he was getting too old to fight both of them again. Young beat Foreman to become the No. 1 contender and then Norton beat Young. Now Ali comes tiptoeing through the tulips (putting off a fourth bout with Norton unless the champion is paid $12 million)."
As if he were suspected of partaking of the sour grape after losing the services of Ali to Arum, King made it clear he was going into enemy territory to see the Ali-Spinks fight and also dropped a favorite name.
"I'm going out to Vegas on the weekend and stay till the 14th. I'm going to fly to Washington on Tuesday because my wife and I are invited to a reception at the White House by President Carter. I will fly back to Vegas on Wednesday to see the fight."