Don King, in case you don't know, is alive and he showed he's still got plenty of that trademark “pep” when his office sent out a release before the Nov. 3 runoff between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
King identifies as “conservative,” and he's been publicly backing Republican candidates for a few decades, though, like the wind, he goes this way and that, depending on what direction he might like to push somebody or some cause.
The Nov. 2, 2020 King call to join him in seeing Trump as the best man for the job* didn't push Trump over the finish line, as you know. But it showed he's still in the game, and to start the new year, King announced even more loudly that he's still a player.
He's had his fighters on shows, and “co-promoted” fight cards featuring King's crewmates like Bermane Stiverne, but it's been awhile since boxing's Barnum busted out the bigtop, and put gas in the clown car and got behind the wheel. On Friday, Jan. 29, though, Don King will be the promoter of record for a full scale boxing card.
The last time the 89 year old Ohio native promoted a full show, according to BoxRec, was Aug. 28, 2015. Trevor Bryan beat Derric Rossy in a heavyweight tussle that topped a DKP/ShoBox presentation.
Two releases have gone out, hyping a Don King show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL., with two world title fights–one for the WBA heavyweight championship and the other for the WBA cruiserweight championship. King will be doing something different, apparently, padding out the promotion with three fights from his vast library. The offering is supposed to be running on DonKing.com, for $19.95.
But chatter has been heavy that this card isn't coming together like the releases promise.
WBA heavyweight titlist Mahmoud Charr (31-4, 17 KOs) from Germany via Syria was to be taking on the number one contender in Trevor Bryan (20-0, 14 KOs) from Fort Lauderdale, FL via New York on this Don King show.
But rumors abound that Charr, who has made Germany his home base, has visa issues, or some other impediment which keeps him from coming to America. Someone in a position to know informed me he's probably not coming to Florida on Saturday.
Bryan, he seems like a go, he took to Instagram on Thursday and said he's ready to rumble. Charr actually answered Bryan on IG, and said hey, tell the promoter to send the paperwork and he'll do the fight. But as of Sunday night, a few people have told me they don't think Charr will be in Florida. Though with most things boxing, things are subject to change.
There's been confusion in the air about the site itself. I called the Hard Rock, on Saturday, and a lady put me on hold, for 8 minutes, came back, and said she had nothing resembling a boxing card on their entertainment schedule.
Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12 KOs; from Las Vegas, NV via Kazakhstan) has been advertised on the King show, in a title scrap against Texan Raphael Murphy (14-1, 11 KOs) from Harlingen, TX. A 12-round bout, or so the poster tells us.
Murphy told me he's in, and that he believes he will be fighting the 37 year old Shumenov.
“He is fighting,” Murphy told me Saturday, when I asked if he could confirm he'd be meeting the ex light heavy champ. He said he is looking forward to it. “I'm happy to be putting food on the table and an opportunity to put MORE food on!” He will fly to Miami Sunday, he shared. Murphy indicated he wants to fight, but knows this business, that changes happen all the time.
He would know–Raphael's dad is Ken Murphy, who fought professionally from 1990-2009, and faced off with Fabrice Tiozzo, Clifford Etienne, Brian Neilsen, and plenty more well known talents. He started 17-0-1, then veered off, his management not as scrupulous. And Kenny's older brother Leroy Murphy, captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic “boycott” boxing team, went 30-4 as a pro, winning a crown at cruiserweight over Marvin Camel. (Want to see a weird one? Scroll to the 15:16 mark in this video, see a double knockdown in the 1985 Leroy Murphy cruiser title defense against Chisanda Mutti, from Monaco. And then ponder why the ref only focused his count on one guy….And remind yourself that boxing shouldn't be called theater of the unexpected, because weird things always happen in this sphere.)
Maybe it would be surprising if Shumenov does fight; he gloved up once in 2015, once in 2016, not at all in 2017, once in 2018…and he's been off radar since then. It's been said his parents, his family, were at one time among the wealthiest people of Kazahkstan. He's lived in Vegas, and a 2017 newspaper story mentions that he's trying to sell his home in Vegas, and listing it at $5.3 million. In 2017, he actually announced he was retiring from boxing, because of a serious injury to his right eye.
Anyway, Raphael, age 35, wants to fight, but doesn't have to fight, he said, because he makes good money driving trucks.
The King release touts that a “special heavyweight attraction will feature Bermane Stiverne (25-4-1, 21 KOs) from Las Vegas, NV via Canada, the former WBC heavyweight champion.” Not sure who he'd be fighting, it won't be 19-0 Christopher Lovejoy as the poster promised.
Frankly, not positive Stiverne is fighting. He isn't ranked by the WBA, in case you were thinking about who might slot in for Charr, if need be. Bermane, who is 42, also hasn't fought since Feb. 2019, when he got stopped in round 6 by Joe Joyce.
Another heavyweight signed to king, Lovejoy, told me that he is in Florida, and ready to fight. But he is slated to fight in Mexico on Jan. 30, he said. He will fight one of two guys, he shared, a Mexican with a 7-4 record or one with a 17-5 record. A pro since 2016, he's had every one of his fights in Tijuana, Mexico, to this point.
Boxing fans can visit www.donking.com to sign up for the pay-per-view priced at $19.95, for the record. I looked to do so, but was met with this message, so I didn't go any further:
Not to be rebuffed that easily, though, I kept searching. And, did you know that King owns the Call & Post, a newspaper/platform formed in 1928? I'm pretty sure the paper runs the site I found what looked like secure ordering information. Yes indeed, I purchased the Friday, Jan. 29 PPV. Message me if you want to get the link to order.
This card has been a dartboard for quipsters, but like I told Murphy, I'm for seeing some guys who could use the work and a check get both, so I am hoping clarity is achieved soon, and the show goes on. Listen, King is no angel, that's no secret. I still get a case of the cringes when I recall him using the “N” word during a pro Trump rally in Cleveland in September 2016.
He is a good metaphor for America as a whole. Over sized, too brash and braggy, lacking in conscience…but also vibrant and positively audacious at times. Makes things happen, makes opportunities appear, sometimes leaves a scene behind that looks like the day after Woodstock ended. And, yeah, OK, this is kind of faint praise, but it's the truth: never boring.
*Here is the entirety of the text in the “A Letter From Don King,” sent out on Nov. 2, 2020, the day before Biden beat Trump