Before Scott LeDoux left the Met Center Monday night to irrigate his dejection at his favorite bar, the King of Clubs, he made an utterance that qualifies as a famous quotation.
His left eye closing and discolored after he led with his face against the crunching punces of Larry Holmes, LeDoux consoled his parents. "Ma,," he said, "he never laid a hand on me."
Blinded herself with maternal sympathy for her son's pride, Mickie LeDoux fudged the truth a smidgen as she put her hands on his face and examined the cut. "It's just puffy," she said.
LeDoux turned to Dr. Gerald O'Brien, a Minnesota Boxing Commission physician, and asked, "Do I need stitches?"
"Not now," said O'Brien. "But please see an apthalmologist."
After referee David Pearl stopped the bout at 2 minutes 5 seconds of the seventh round and awarded Holmes a knockout victory, O'Brien told a news conference that one more punch might have torn off the upper lid of LeDoux's left eye.
Earlier in the round, Pearl halted the action for O'Brien to examaine the injury and LeDoux was permitted to continue on his physician's advice. Four punches later, Pearl determined he didn't need any further medical consultation and Holmes thus retained his World Boxing Council heavyweight title.
The eye was cut in the sixth round, when Holmes knocked down the challenger with a right uppercut and the referee agreed by counting over him. When he arose LeDoux insisted he was "thumbed" by Holmes' open glove and was temporarily blinded, saying, "I can't see . . . I can't see."
If it did not make for appetizing breakfast reading, the punishment absorbed the night before was all but forgotten today as various principals looked toward the next promotion.
Don King waited until Holmes left here today in a huff after being taunted at ringside by Muhammad Ali, then King said he was going ahead with plans for Holmes to defend his title for the eighth time against Ali in Spetember or early October in Las Vegas.
Bob Arum, of Top Rank Inc., King's promotional rival, said by telephone from New York that Holmes first has to fight Bernardo Mecado of Colombia according to WBC regulations, because Mercado is ranked as that organization's No. 1 contender.
Holmes had one year to fight Mercado," Arum said, "from when Holmes beat Earnie Shavers last September, if the WBC is going to enforce its rules.
"The WBC forced Sugar Ray Leonard to defend his WBC welterweight title against Roberto Duran as No. 1 contender, instead of letting Leonard fight Jose Cuevas for the World Boxing Association title. Jose Suliman of the WBC has got to do the same with Holmes -- make him fight Mercado."
King was asked here about having Holmes fight Mercado before Ali and said, "We got permission for Holmes to fight Ali first. If anything goes wrong with that, we'll go with Mercado.
Ali was having breakfast with two female admirers in his suite while being interviewed and said of Arum's comments, "I'm above ranking; I own boxing.
"Nobody wants to see holmes fight those guys (such as LeDoux and Mercado and Leon Spinks, whom Holmes said he might fight next instead of Ali). Holmes knows I saw what he can't do last night. He's embarrassed at the way he looked against LeDoux. He can't punch. He's jealous that I stole his thunder. He's afrad he's going to lose his title.
"I want the title, but I won't crawl. I'll beat all the contenders and tell the world he's yellow. Holmes thinks I came here after him, but I just did Don King a favor by coming here. King's got to tell Holmes that he sent me tickets, paid my way, to try to help the gate. Holmes can't draw."
There were fewer than 7,000 in the 16,200-seat arena and some fans broke up tables and chairs at ringside in protest at the bout being stopped because of LeDoux's cut eye.
Holmes, unbeaten in 35 fights received $1 million; the challenger between $225,000 and $300,000.