- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 14, 2002

Several times over the past two years, I've written that the best fights in boxing are in the middle weights, from the welterweight division at 147 pounds to the middleweight division at 160.
Tonight there is one of those fights, with World Boxing Council junior middleweight champion Oscar De La Hoya fighting World Boxing Association title-holder Fernando Vargas at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Over and over, I've repeated: Pay no attention to the heavyweight division. Don't use that as a measure of the sport. In fact, not long ago I wrote that it was dead and buried.
Leave it to Don King to resurrect the heavies.
King was in Washington yesterday for the WBA convention and to put final touches on what should prove to be a series of interesting fights in a division that, after Lennox Lewis disposed of Mike Tyson in June, registered zero on the interest scale.
Of course, in order to do that, he had to go out of the heavyweight division and find a gimmick by the name of Roy Jones Jr.
If and when all the contracts are signed, Jones, the undisputed light heavyweight champion and considered the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the business, will fight WBA title-holder John Ruiz for the heavyweight championship Dec.7. A week later, former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield will face Chris Byrd for the vacant International Boxing Federation heavyweight belt. The winners then will meet in a unification bout.
It's not Ali-Frazier, but it's better than Lennox Lewis and anyone else, at this point.
"There was disdain for the heavyweight division, but these are competitive, entertaining fights," King said. "It's a very exciting time. This fight will be beyond what anyone expected Roy Jones fighting for the heavyweight championship. He is not only making history in a way that has never been done before. He was middleweight champion, then super middleweight champion and now undisputed light heavyweight champion. No one in history has ever brought that into the ring to fight for the heavyweight title. The remarkable part is getting Roy Jones to sign to do it."
Yes, that is one detail that hasn't been finalized yet. Jones has not signed a contract for the fight. King doesn't appear worried about getting that signature. "I'm in the process of doing that," he said. "The contracts are being typed up right now."
I hope Jones goes through with this. He is coming off another invisible title defense, beating Clinton Woods on Sept.7, and despite all of his talent is in danger of being remembered as the Harlem Globetrotters of boxing a lot of talent and flash competing against the Washington Generals in every fight.
The amazing thing is that King is doing all this without Lewis or Mike Tyson in the mix. He actually paid Lewis $1million to give up the IBF title. It was a brilliant move, because Lewis would have had to fight Byrd, the IBF mandatory challenger, or be stripped of that version of the belt. There was no reason for him to fight Byrd, a difficult opponent and a fight that no one would have cared about. Lewis still holds the WBC title and is expected to fight Vitali Klitschko next, for those of you who care.
"I took a calculated risk," King said. "What if Roy didn't sign? I've lost a million, because Lennox would have given up the title anyway, but he wouldn't have given it up in a timely fashion. That gave me a chance to put together this series. Now he is a proponent of the series instead of an opponent and may even consider fighting the winner."
King will be flying to Las Vegas tonight for the De La Hoya-Vargas fight and to see old rival Bob Arum, who is De La Hoya's promoter. "Lonesome Bob has a good show, with Vargas and Oscar," King said. "I'm going to fly out there to see Lonesome and hopefully bring him some family spirit and give him some joy. Visitors are coming, and he won't be lonesome anymore."
Tonight's fight had been the only thing worth looking forward to on the boxing horizon. Don King, providing he gets Roy Jones' signature, may prevent the sun from setting on the heavyweight division.

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