World heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, fresh from one of the most convincing of his 13 sucessfull title defenses, today still was throwing punches -- the verbal kind.
"I'm mad at Don King," said the World Boxing Council champion, who Friday night hammered Randall (Tex) Cobb for 15 rounds to win a unanimous decision and retain his crown.
"He belittles me and embarrasses me because he always wants to cut my pay," said Holmes over coffee. "I'm going to look for another fight with any promoter but King."
Holmes' projected pay for this bout was cut from an initial $2.1 million to $1.6 million. Promoter King said that was because television revenues were reduced by ABC, which carried the fight live.
Holmes accepted that cut, but he said last night at his victory party the promoter told him he was going to cut the paycheck an additional $200,000 because of a poor turnout in the cavernous Astrodome that was estimated by some to be as low as 8,500 people. Holmes said King told him the poor gate left a deficit of $700,000.
"He cuts me every time I turn around," said Holmes, who is undefeated in 41 pro fights and who has used King as his promoter for nine years. "He could at least give me some respect."
Said Holmes, "My arms, my lip, hands and eyes were sore last night. You don't know what a fighter goes through. Then he tells me I gotta take a cut. He must be out of his mind."
King stopped in briefly at Holmes' makeshift press conference in a hotel coffee shop, but beat a hasty retreat after saying he didn't remember what he'd said at the victory party. "I must have been drunk," said King.
Holmes' nationally televised pummeling of the game but ungainly Cobb was not much prettier than the money squabble that followed. The classy heavyweight champion pounded Cobb almost at will through 14 rounds, winning all 14 on two judges' cards and all but one on the third judges.' In the 15th round he gave up trying to knock out the 234-pound challenger, saying today that he feared hurting Cobb.
"It was bad," said Holmes. "I hurt him bad in the 14th and it's bad to knock a guy out after he takes all that punishment. That's when a guy gets hurt." As a result, all three judges rules the final round a draw.
The smattering of fans booed the last-round dance, and Holmes said he couldn't have cared less. "I know the crowd isn't satisfied unless you kill a guy," he said.
The champion also protested television announcer Howard Cosell's complaints that the bout was a terrible mismatch. "Who can I fight that's not a mismatch?" asked the swift, hard-punching heavyweight. "People say Cobb was a punching bag, but most every guy I fought was like that. (Gerry) Cooney would have been knocked out by Cobb."
Holmes praised Cobb for his determination and ability to take punishment. He said of Cooney, whom he knocked out in June in his last title defense, "I'd bring up my right hand and he backs up and looks for his corner. With Cobb, I lift my right and he comes right in." Cobb, he added, "has nothing to be ashamed of."
Holmes said the battered Cobb, who failed in his efforts to get close to Holmes and slug it out, suggested after the fight that they do it again, but next time in a phone booth. Holmes said he replied, "Why don't we just do it over the phone."
As for his failure to knock out Cobb, only the second time he's gone the distance since he won the title in 1978, Holmes said it didn't bother him a bit. "I shined like new money," he said. "I showed some Jack Johnson, some Sugar Ray Robinson, even some Ali."
And the champion scotched rumors that he might be preparing to retire, saying he wanted "one, maybe two, maybe three" more fights. But next time, said Holmes, it will be with a different promoter.
He's said that before, but somehow King always turns up at his side.