- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 20, 2001

The business of boxing often resembles the raucous lawlessness of the Wild West, so it was entirely appropriate that there was a cowboy theme for "Fight Night 2001" at the Washington Hilton and Towers.

Instead of being outlaws, though, the guests were dressed in tuxedos with blue jeans and wearing cowboy hats. Nearly 2,000 of the biggest movers and shakers in the area came together Thursday for the ultimate boys night out a charity event that has raised $19 million over the past 12 years for more than 70 local children's charities.

The dress may have been Wild West, but boxing was the big show, both in and out of the ring. In the ring, the crowd watched Luther Smith (20-2-1) of Alexandria win a 10-round split decision over Marlon Haynes (13-4-3) of Laurel to capture the Fight For Children Championship.

In another bout, former International Boxing Federation junior welterweight champion Terron Millet (26-2-1) won a decision over Bernard Harris (22-14-2). Another former 140-pound world champion, 40-year-old Frankie Randall (55-12-1) the first man to defeat Julio Cesar Chavez was stopped by Chantell Stanciell (20-1-1) in the eighth round.

But the stars of Fight Night are always the old champions who mingle with the fans and are introduced as part of the pageantry. The crowd saved its biggest applause for the impressive list of former champions, including middleweights Jake LaMotta, Carmen Basilio and Vito Antuofermo and heavyweights Joe Frazier, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Ken Norton plus former contender Earnie Shavers, one of the hardest punchers in heavyweight history, who is now a minister for prisoners in England.

"Fighting gave me the platform I needed to do my work," Shavers said. "Men fight in prison, and when they talk to me, they automatically respect me. That gives me a chance to spread the word of God and try to help them."

Former three-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield also made an appearance. He is scheduled to fight World Boxing Association champion John Ruiz next month in the third fight between the two. It was supposed to take place in China in August, but a suspect injury by Ruiz postponed the fight, which reportedly was having financial problems.

No site has been selected yet for next month's fight, but Holyfield said he wasn't letting the uncertainty affect him. "I don't let the stuff that happens out of the ring bother me," he said. "I just keep my focus and do my work to get myself ready to win the title again."

Of course, that would give him only one-third of the heavyweight title, the WBA version, with the World Boxing Council and the International Boxing Federation titles on the line next month in Las Vegas when champion Hasim Rahman meets Lennox Lewis in their rematch. But no matter what Holyfield does next month, he will always qualify as one of the boxing legends and part of the family of former fighters that comes to Washington each year to help raise money for charity.

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