The New York State Athletic Commission muscled into the heavyweight boxing title melee and, boy, did its man, old champion Floyd Patterson, take a few on the chin.
NYSAC wheeled Commissioner Patterson out to read a prepared statement endorsing Leon Spinks, the WBA champion, as New York's world champion too by virtue of having whupped Muhammad Ali. "According to (our) rules and regulations," Patterson intoned, "a championship can be lost be default, forfeit or inability to pass the scale (weight) but a championship can only be won by a contender in a contest."
To the attack yesterday sprang Bob Biron of San Diego, manager of WBC champion Ken Norton:
"New York is the same state that recognized Joe Frazier as world champion when the (Madison Square) Garden opened, after Ali was stripped of his title by that very same body.
"It is also shocking that . . . Floyd Patterson would even dare to make the statements he did. This is the same Floyd Patterson who made a defense of his title against an amateur in his first professional fight - Pete Rademachner. This is the same Patterson who tied up the heavyweight title for three years by fighting only one man - Ingemar Johansson. This is the same Patterson whose management flouted every rule in boxing to avoid meeting certain top contenders . . .
"New York has long since died as a boxing power. Ken Norton, with or without New York, is ready to defend his title against the No. 1 available contender in accord with WBC regulations" . . .
In WBC language, that means the winner of Saturday's Earnie Shavers (No. 4) vs. Larry Holmes (No. 5) 12-rounder in Vegas, so long as Spinks and Ali are tied in to their prospective rematch. (No. 3 is Jimmy Young, loser of the WBC "retroactive title match," last fall's split decision to Norton.). Shavers is gettingg $275,000 for the bout, Holmes $100,000 but Jimmy the Creek maes Holmes a 6-to-5 favorite. . . .
Put up with Dukes?
Northwatd on U.S. 1 through Alexandria, left on Glebe, right on Commonwealth and you run smack into dreamland, baseaball fans. Do it today and shake your head in wonderment that, from among the graders, dozers and whatevers deployed in a nondescript field will materialize - within 25 days - professional baseball, in a worthy setting.
The Alexandria Dukes means business, swear Eugene Thomas, Club preisdent; Frank Hidgon, secretary-treasure; Michael Halbrooks, g.m.; Mayor Frank Mann, mover/shaker rooter, and their cohorts. They insists the city of "Play (Class A, Carolina League) ball!" will resound in a dandy 2,500-seat stadium - Four Mile Run Park by (new) name - on schedule, April 18. Not to mention that the radio voice of Nat Allbright, live, on play by play (with Bob Diegrist) will be heard throughout the (WEEL-AM 1310) land every one of 70 home games (7:30 p.m. starts weekedays and weekends).
So the Dukes don't have one player yet to dress up in the royal blue and orange uniforms, to take aim at the yet-to-be-erected fences 310 feet down the lines, 385 to the power alleys and 400 in dead center.
Between Manager Les Peden's current tour of the Florida camps for promising timber being cut adrift at higher levels, a possible consignment from some major league organization and a come-one, come-all tryout camp 9 a.m. April 1 at Goerge Washington H.S., Mount Vernon and Braddock avenues, Alexandria, Halbrooks reckons a competitive squad will be assembled by April 8 or 9. By the 18th I'll be bring on those Lynchburing Mets and that "rabbit" ball they used in the Carolina circuit.
P.S. Besides players, the Dukes will welcome stockholders (Virginia residents only) to the tune of $100 minimum ($150,000 is target). For-info, dial H-O-M-E-R-U-N . . .
P.P.S. You can tell 'em in College Park - they probably know it already, though - 7-foot-2 Artis Gilmore has a little brother, Orea, 15, who on the NBA giant's recommendation moved from his parents' home in Panama City, Fla., to Greenville, S.C. for a better basketabll atmosphere. Oren, attends Riversides High as a sophomore, lives with Coach Louie Golden (now his legal guardian), and was playing nicely at last report for a short person of 6-7. "Artis tells me he wasn't as tall as I am when he was 15," young Gilmore puts in . . .
And APSPL does take itself seriously, even if Joe Pepitone is the latest ex-baseball big leaguer to sign on (Trenton). The Minnesota Goofy's are going classic - now they're the Norsemen . . .