When the boxing card headlined by Sugar Ray Seales and Johnny Heard is presented at the D.C. Armory at 7:30 tonight, a featured pugilist on the bill, local featherweight Derrik (Holmes Sweet) Holmes may not answer the bell.
"I am not sure that I will be fighting," Holmes said. "I may not be ready physically. I slept under an air conditioner three days ago and caught a cold."
The 22-year-old fighter also says that his training has been thrown off because his manager, Ben Taylor, has not been able to secure prefight information on his opponent. Taylor could not be reached for comment.
Dave Jacobs, the man who used to train Holmes and Sugar Ray Leonard, does not feel Holmes has a good excuse. "I don't know about his physical condition but not knowing anything about his opponent definitely shouldn't keep him out of the ring." said Jacobs.
Willis Johnson, D.C. Armory boxing director, suggested that "butterflies" before his first professional fight, against Michael Johnson, 3-3, is the real problem.
But associates of Holmes say the real story behind his reluctance to turn pro tonight is a family matter. It involves a conflict between his desire to earn money for the family and his mother's will to see him earn an Olympic gold medal and turn pro in style.
"I need the money so that I can help Mom while she is still here," said Holmes.
"I wish Derrik would stay out of the pros for a while," said his mother Charline, "and win the gold medal. Then he would be in a better position to get top management, like Angelo Dundee."
Mrs. Holmes feels that the family living in New Carrolton, can weather the financial storm they are presently in.
Four years ago she was working full time for $900 a month as an AFL-CIO business agent. Today, Mrs. Holmes has a serious blood pressure problem that caused her to quit her job. She has been drawing $400 a month in unemployment for the past year, and that time is about to run out.
Derrik makes roughly $350 every two weeks and his 19-year-old brother Johnny, works at the Hyatt Regency for $155 a week. Thursday Johnny will be trying for a $1,500 purse in the U.S. Open Chess Tournament.
"I think Derrik was rushed into the decision" to turn professional, Mrs. Holmes said, "because of our monetary situation. They're such good boys in helping, but I wish he (Derrik) would wait. We have never been in a hardship situation before but we can make it," she said.
In February, Adrian Davis, Holmes' coach, told The Washington Post he turned down a $500 offer for Holmes to turn professional. Davis wanted him to go to the Golden Gloves and felt he was worth more.But tonight' fight, according to promoter Nat Williams, would pay Holmes $500. Normally, Williams said, beginning fighters only get about $200.
"I have a signed contract right before me that says Holmes is supposed to fight tommorrow (Wednesday) night," said Williams.
"Holmes could probably get suspended if he does not show for the fight or does not produce strong medical evidence that he is sick," said Johnson.
Mrs. Holmes is not excited about the $500 offer made to her son, whod has yet to go to a doctor. "The stakes are too high. Anything can happen in the ring . . . he can lose an eye. I can see if he (Derrik) was illiterwate or didn't have any education, but that amount Holmes has attended the University of of money barely pays the rent," she said. Maryland and worked in the data computer department at the Goddard Space Flight Center.
Other fights scheduled on tonight's card include a lightweight bout between Otis Cooper (3-1) of Washington and Willie Williams (4-4) of Cleveland. The welterweight bout has C. J. Faison (7-6) of Washington challenging Ronnie Pettigrew (15-12) of Cleveland. Henry Bunch of Cleveland will make his professional debut against Washington's Charlie Williams (4-4). A light heavyweight bout will match Cleveland's Lou Benson (10-2) against Stanley Scott (4-0) of Washington.