"I can't believe this," promoter Don King said. "Why were they trying to frame me?"

King had read in yesterday's Newsday, the daily published on Long Island, of an alleged sting operation in which the FBI reportedly tried and failed to catch him in illegal acts. The story, written by Manny Topol, said the government agency tried to infiltrate boxing and catch King through an Abscam-type operation in which an undercover agent posed as a wealthy fight promoter.

"I wasn't aware of it," King said of the purported sting effort.

No charges have been filed against King, who was indicted last month in a separate investigation on charges of conspiring to evade federal taxes.

"I'm so proud of this guy (Topol) and Newsday, who had the guts to print it," King said at a New York news conference confirming Larry Holmes' swan-song heavyweight title defense against David Bey March 15 in Las Vegas.

Lane Bonner, an FBI spokesman in Washington, was quoted by Newsday as saying: "It would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time with regard to any undercover operation that may have been conducted by the FBI" . . .

Kenny Baysmore, the Washingtonian with the 18-0 record, 17 knockouts and the U.S. Boxing Association junior welterweight title, will fight USBA ex-champion Robert Mullins (35-12, 25 knockouts) in the 10-round feature of a pro show Feb. 2 at the Sheraton Lanham. Leonard Productions has set tickets at $20 and $15, available at Ticketron locations.