Sugar Ray Leonard's one-round knockout of Danny Gonzales was cited before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives yesterday as a mismatch and as an example of what can result from the alleged control of boxing by televisions networks in search of ratings.
On the first day of hearings by the House Labor Standards Subcommittee on a bill to establish a federal boxing control board, witnesses testified that fighters, had to kick back money to promoters to obtain bouts, although no proof was offered.
Rep. Edward P. Beard (D-R.L.), WHO INTRODUCED THE BILL AND IS CHAIRMAN OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE, OBSERVED AFTER LISTENING TO SOME OF THE SOME OF THE TESTIMONY, "I THINK BOXING IS IN A POSITION WHERE A FEW CONTROL THE DESTINY OF FIGHTERS. NEWCOMERS CAN'T CLIMB IF THEY DON'T PAY OFF SOMEONE."
HAROLD GOMES, ONETIME JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPION WHO NOW REFEREES OCCASIONALLY, DOWNGRADED GONZALES AS A SUITABLE OPPONENT FOR UNBEATEN OLYMPIC CHAMPION LEONARD IN SATURDAY'S BOUT IN TUSCON, ARIZ.
REP. PAT WILLIAMS (D-MONT.) ASKED GOMES, "WHAT ONE OR TWO THINGS COULD RUIN BOXING?"
"I'M NOT TAKING AWAY THE CREDIBILITY OF LEONARD," HE ANSWERED. "HE'S GOOD, A GREAT FIGHTER, BUT I NEVER HEARD OF HIS OPPONENT (GONZALES).
"A HEAVYWEIGHT BOXER (LEON SPINKS) HAS SEVEN FIGHTS AND GETS A SHOT AT THE TITLE, AND WINS IT (FROM MUHAMMAD ALI). NOW EARNIE SHAVERS AGAINST KEN NORTON; THAT'S NOT A MISMATCH. BOTH WERE RANKED. FANS KNEW THEM."
GOMES ADDED, "I THINK HAVING A FEDERAL BOXING CHAMPION IS A GREAT IDEA. I KNOW FIGHTERS WHO COME RIGHT OFF THE STREET AND GET BOUTS. THEY GET NO EXAMINATION. THE BOXING COMMISSION DOESN'T EVEN KNOW THEM, OR IF THEY HAVE A PHONEY RECORD. THAT HURTS THE SPORT."
RALPH ZANNELLI, A FORMER BOXER FROM PROVIDENCE, R.I., SAID HE WAS IN FAVOR OF A FEDERAL COMMISSION AND NATIONAL REGISTRATION OF FIGHTERS, "SO NO BOXER COULD SAY HE HAD BOUTS WHEN HE HAD MAYBE 10. A BOXER DOESN'T BELONG ON TELEVISION AND HE GETS KAYOED IN THE FIRST ROUND."
CHAIRMAN BEARD ASKED, "WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE IMAGE OF BOXING?"
TWO WORDS: IT STINKS."
AFTER THE HEARING IT WAS MENTIONED TO GOMES THAT LEONARD WAS RANKED AS THE NO. 4 CONTENDER FOR THE WORLD BOXING COUNCIL WELTERWEIGHT TITLE HELD BY WILFREDO BENITEZ AND THAT GONZALES WAS RANKED NO. 6 BEFORE LOSING TO LEONARD.
"I DIDN'T REALIZE THAT," GOMES SAID.
NAT LOUBET, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR OF THE RING MAGAZINE, WAS ASKED IF BOXERS OBTAIN BOUTS ON ABILITY AND SAID, "ABILITY MEANS A LOT, BUT IF A TRIANER ASKS FOR BOUTS FOR A NEWCOMER, HE IS TOLD, "IF YOU GO AND SEE 'SO AND SO.'"
"MISTER X THEN SAYS, 'IF YOU'LL GIVE ME 10 TO 50 PERCENT OF YOUR BOXER, HE'LL GET BOUTS.'
"TV owns the fighters. You see Leonard. That bout shouldn't have been on TV. His opponent got belted out in one round. TV is very powerful. It will control boxing. The networks have lots of money and want ratings."
The hearings continue today with promoters Bob Arum and Don King, and Floyd Patterson, former heavyweight champion and now a member of the New York State Athletic Commission, heading the list of scheduled witnesses.