The world heavyweight title fight between World Boxing Council champion Larry Holmes and challenger Gerry Cooney, scheduled for March 15 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, has been postponed until June 11 because of a shoulder injury Cooney suffered in training.
Bob Halloran, director of sports for Caesars World, announced the postponement yesterday in New York following an examination of Cooney at New York University Medical Center by three doctors, including two specialists from Cleveland.
One of the specialists, Dr. John Bergfeld, an orthopedic surgeon, said Cooney had suffered a partial tear and weakness of the muscle fibers in the back part of his left shoulder. The muscle involved is close to the rotator cuff, a sensitive region of the shoulder, said Bergfeld, who is the orthopedist for the Cleveland Browns.
He said torn rotator cuffs have also been a common injury among major league baseball pitchers, among them Steve Busby, Craig Swan and Wayne Garland.
"Brought along properly the chances of reinjury are minimal. The prognosis is good," said Bergfeld.
Cooney will continue his road work but will do no vigorous sparring for two weeks. Treatment involves stretching exercises and anti-inflammatory medication.
Dr. Jeffrey Minkoff, Cooney's personal physician, said the injury occurred in January when Cooney was training for an exhibition bout with Joe Bugner. He said the seriousness of the injury went undectected at the time and that Cooney may have aggravated it last week while training for the Holmes bout.
"I'm very hurt that the fight is not going to take place in March," said Cooney. "I guess you people all know the kind of things Holmes has been saying about me and it would have been much easier if the fight could have come off as scheduled. I just want everyone to know that it's not the money that's important to me in this fight. It's winning the title."
Tuesday in Las Vegas, Holmes said, "I don't think he wants to fight me. Gerry has created an illness in his mind, and when you have a problem like that you create your own problems."
Copromoter Don King said Holmes probably will schedule another fight before the Cooney bout, possibly in late April or early March.