Ed (Too Tall) Jones earned a Super Bowl-size paycheck in 41 seconds yesterday -- $35,000 -- for doing in a boxing ring what he would have been penalized for on a football field.
Out of a tragicomic sequence of developments at the D.C. Armory/Starplex he emerged as a main-event attraction in his third professional bout and wiped out blubbery Fernando Montes of Mexico in the first round of a scheduled six-round preliminary.
Promoter James L. Denson came up with the "shorts" at the box office and World Boxing Association lighweight champion Ernesto Espana of Venezuela refused to defend his title against Leonidas Asprilla of Colombia because he was not paid $60,000 of his $70,000 purse before the fight, as demanded.
Espana's manager, Felix Zabala, said he did receive $10,000 a month ago from Denson for training expenses, and he kept that, of course.
Asprilla was to have received $10,000 as his purse. Leo Cruz of the Dominican Republic also pulled out of his scheduled 10-round junior feather-weight bout with Derrik Holmes of New Carrollton, Md., because his $5,000 purse was not paid before show time, 2 p.m.
Denson "estimated" there were about 1,000 in attendance, but he might have been counting by twos. He needed $200,000 to break even; and the base rent for the Armory was $2,500.
Denson, asked to account for the debacle at the gate, said, "It hurt us when welterweight champion Pipino Cuevas canceled his bout. It was too late to get a television contract, and we took some shots from the local media."
Bobby Mitchell of the D.C. Boxing Commission said that Denson posted a $25,000 performance bond that would assure the preliminary boxers would be paid. Dave Wolf, Jones' manager, said Jones' purse was guaranteed before he came here.
Also, the scheduled welterweight fight between Jose Palacio of Mexico and Washingtonian Johnny Gant was scratched. Palscio withdrew, he said, because Denson did not make a personal appeal to him to fight.
It was announced before the first of four bouts that did go on, "Due to problems with the management of the champion (Espana) and the physical condition of the challenger (Asprilla) the title bout has been canceled. Refunds will be made at the Armory ticket office on Tuesday, Nov. 27.Other bouts will take place."
Asprilla's manager said there was nothing wrong with his boxer except the withheld purse. The four bouts, including the Jones-Montes "main event," lasted an aggregate of 8 minutes 54 seconds.
Jones, who came here with a 2-0 record after retiring as a defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys, responded to the opening bell with his gloves extended awkwardly in front of him, as though fearful of incurring a holding penalty, in this, new to Jones, one-on-one exercise.
Montes was billed as the former heavyweight champion of Mexico. At 6-foot-2 and 214 1/2 pounds, he was dwarfed by the 6-8 Jones, who weighed 243. 6
Montes sneaked in a left hook to the whiskers of Jones, before the latter hit the Mexican on his whiskers with a head slap, forced him back with a forearm shiver to determine the damage, and then clipped him about seven times with right chops as Montes sagged into the ropes.
To revive a cliche, Lizzie Borden never had a better day; to coin a cliche, Chuck Wepner never had a worse one; not in 41 seconds.
Montes slumped to a sitting position, fell forward on all fours in an effort to rise, and after a nine-count referee Norvel Lee halted the contest.
Montes' manager inadvertently provided comic relief when he blamed his tiger's showing on being "overconfident."
Lee said he halted the bout and awarded Jones a knockout victory after Montes arose "because his eyes were dazed."
Jones hardly broke a sweat and said, "I'd kind of like to see them all end this fast. I intended to feel him out in the first round and then take it to him in the second.
"But I hit him with a jab and I saw him rock. I knew it hurt him."
Asked about his progress since he was knocked down before winning a decision in his first bout, against Jesus (Yaqui) Meneses, Jones said, "It's too soon. I'm still not totally relaxed in the ring. I'm learning, I need a lot of experience."
Was taking a shot to the jaw in boxing harder than in football, with helmet on? "I feel I can take a shot if I have to. I hope that punch by Meneses will be the hardest I'll have to take in my career."
In other fights, Ray Mancini of Oungstown, Ohio, stopped Ric Patterson of Powder Mill Village, Md., in 1:11 of the second round; Jeff (Kid) Pasero, Mitchellville, Md., stopped Keith York, New York, City, in 1:49 of the first round, and Alf Coffin, Arlington, stopped John Green, Richmond, in 2:13 of the first round.