Gerrie Coetzee, the new World Boxing Association heavyweight champion, doesn't know who his next opponent will be, but he knows who he most wants to fight--Larry Holmes, the World Boxing Council champion.
"That is really the fight I want, because I believe I can beat Larry," Coetzee said today after he had knocked out Michael Dokes in the 10th round Friday night at the Coliseum in nearby Richfield, Ohio.
"I just hope it comes quick because he's getting old and I don't want to beat an old man," Coetzee said at a news conference at a hotel.
"I have to do what the people want," Holmes, 34, told the Associated Press by telephone from his home in Easton, Pa. "If the people want it, I'd cancel the (Marvis) Frazier fight if they put the money up."
Holmes is scheduled to fight Frazier Nov. 25. But he said the original contract for that bout said it could be held no later than Oct. 15, and that he has not yet signed the rewritten contract.
Coetzee is the first South African to become a heavyweight champion and he is the first white heavyweight champion since Ingemar Johansson of Sweden knocked out Floyd Patterson in 1959. Johansson lost the title in his first defense, on a knockout by Patterson in 1960.
Coetzee said his first defense would be up to promoter Don King.
King, who was not at the press conference, said he had options for three fights with Coetzee and he wants the first to be in December, with the opponent yet to be decided, followed by a rematch with Dokes. Asked about possible opponents, Coetzee mentioned John Tate and Mike Weaver, the two men who beat him in earlier WBA title bids.
As for a Coetzee-Holmes fight, King said that Holmes must first make a mandatory WBC defense against top-ranked Greg Page.
"Larry will be watering at the mouth for it," said King. "It's another (Gerry) Cooney situation (a major money match)."
But Holmes said if the money was right, he would think about fighting Coetzee ahead of Page. "I'm in the money-making business in my last days in boxing," Holmes said.
One thing, said Holmes, "I will not fight this guy over there (South Africa)."
"This is where I won the title and I want to defend it here," said Coetzee, who recently moved from Brigantine, N.J., to Huntington Beach, Calif.
Coetzee was to have his oft-broken right hand X-rayed today at a hospital here where his wife, Rena, was to give birth to their third child. The baby, a 7-pound 12-ounce girl named Tana, arrived this afternoon by Caesarean section; mother and child were reported doing fine.
Coetzee knocked down Dokes in the fifth round and hurt him in the 10th with two straight rights to the head. The previously unbeaten Dokes tried desperately to hold on, but went down on his stomach from a barrage of punches and was counted out eight seconds after the bell ending the round.