Leon Spinks, stripped of his heavyweight boxing championship Saturday by the World Boxing Council for refusing to fight Ken Norton, is still determined to fight Muhammad Ali.
Bob Arum, head of Top Rank, Inc., the promotional firm that handled the first Spinks - Ali fight, told The Washington Post yesterday the rematch will be held, "anyplace where we can get the most money."
"I decided who I will fight," Spinks said yesterday at mews conference in Boston. "I decided when I'm going to fight.
"I never did agree to fight Norton, and I never signed any papers.
Spinks was i Boston to appear at a dinner-boxing show un by promoter Helen Hall. At a news conference, surrounded by his entourage, Spinks said he was not upset by the WBC ruling.
As for his arrest in St. Louis, his home town last weekend on charges of driving without a license and traveling the wrong way on a one-way street, Spinks said:
"I was celebrating for Norton because he got what he wanted, I got overwhelmed for him."
Arum said the options on where to hold the fight were narrowed, at a meeting in Detroit on Tuesday with three (unidentified) independent African countries holding the edge.
Arum said Norton's name was never mentioned at the Tuesday meeting. "The World Council ruined whatever hopes Norton might have had when it made him its paper champion," added Arum.
The World Boxing Association, smaller than the WBC, recognizes Spinks as its champion and has approved an Ali-Spinks rematch for the title.
The bout will be in September and the site should be settled by the end of the week, the promoter said.
Arum would not disclose the names of the African countries but reported he has had serious discussions with prominent operators of resort hotels that have gambling casinos.
"They want to attract tourists just like Vegas does by having big fights," Arum said. "That is the best way for us to do business (in view of the expectation that such a promotion will cost upwards of $10 million). You black out the telecast to the fewest number of people."
He added, "The chances are that the bout will be on closed-circuit television in theaters, but it doesn't have to be."
He said the African countries will have to made a declaration by next week.
The options presented to Spinks, his attorney Edward Bell, and trainer Sam Solomon were in order:
An independent African country.
A site in the United States.
Arum said that if the United States gets the bout the options are:
The New Orleans Superdone.
The New York City area.
St. Louis (Spinks' hometown), outdoors.
The promoter said Mexico City, hometown of Jose Sulaiman, president of the WBC, which dethroned Spinks, was ruled out by both fighters because of the rarefied atmosphere in the high attitude.
The prospective hotel sponsors in Africa may be in the same Southern Sun hotel chain recently said to be interested in putting an Ali-Spinks bout in Bophuthatswana or on the island nation of Mauritius.
Arum said both of those countries have been eliminated from consideration. Civil rights organizations in the United States protested against Bophuthatswana because it is part of the apartheid scheme of South Africa.
Arum said Muaritius is not equipped to handle the transmission of the fight telecast.
He explained that if an African country takes the bout, CBS will have an option to telecast it "but probably will turn it down if, say, the promotion is going to cost, say, 10 1/2 million dollars. Then we can go to any other network, even at a lower figure, but the chances are it will go to closed-circuit TV."
Arum said he already has talked to Madison Square Garden about being a copromoter, possibly in the New York Giants' Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. He said "a company" is interested in St. Louis, Spinks home town, and that is believed to be the Anheuser-Busch brewery.
Arum said CBS has been unfairly criticized for allegedly lobbying for a Spinks-Ali bout over a Spinks-Norton bout.
"CBS probably cannot affort a $10 million Spinks-Ali bout," Arum said. "The network people sat me down for 2 1/2 hours and tried to force a Spinks-Norton bout."
CBS had an option on Spinks' first title defense, with a budget of $1,555,000 to pay both fighters. Norton accepted a $200,000 offter for such a bout. Spinks opted for Ali.