Hip hop, boxing share card in Atlantic City

Posted: Sunday, December 01, 2002

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Forget Michael Buffer. The ring announcer was Henry ''Discombobulating'' Jones, who told the fans in a half-empty Trump Taj Mahal arena that they were making boxing history.

Championship fighting, it wasn't: Before each match Saturday night, the combatants emerged from a cloud of smoke on a stage where a DJ spun discs and rap groups performed between fights.

Once they got to the ring, they didn't stay long. These were three-round exhibitions, like the amateurs fight -- only without headgear.

The punches counted, the outcomes didn't.

Welcome to ''Fistful of Dollars,'' a bizarre mix of hip-hop and boxing that pitted eight heavyweights against one another in a single-elimination tournament that was more about the dollars than it was about the fists.

''Hey, this is how I eat,'' said Derrick Jefferson, triumphantly walking from the ring after dispatching Ray Austin in two rounds. ''Christmas is coming up. I need some loot.''

The pay-per-view oddity, the brainchild of promoter Cedric Kushner, consisted of three-round exhibition matches, with $100,000 going to the winner. The results didn't count against the fighters' records.

''It's amusing, it's entertaining, but I don't know if it's boxing,'' said fan Mike Brestle, 29, of Ventnor. ''They're out of shape, up there throwing bombs at each other.''

After a short set by rappers 54th Platoon, the card opened with a real-live fight, a tuneup for heavyweight David Tua against Russell Chasteen. This one counted, and it went into the book quickly. Tua knocked him out in the second round of a scheduled 10-rounder.

The three-rounders that followed had plenty of action. After all, with only three rounds per fight, there was no time for dancing or delay tactics.

''Instead of wasting five rounds feeling each other out, they have to get down to business right away,'' said fan Doc Phillips, 58, of Somers Point. ''I like that.''

In tuneup, Tua makes quick work of Chasteen

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- David Tua stopped Russell Chasteen in the second round of a scheduled 10-round tuneup Saturday night, opening a fight card that mixed hip-hop music with three-round exhibition matches.

Tua (42-3) was fighting for the first fight since Aug. 17, when the 30-year-old New Zealander stopped former champion Michael Moorer in 30 seconds. This time, Tua actually broke a sweat, feeling out the flabby Chasteen for a round before putting him away.

Chasteen (19-6) was game enough. He threw more punches than Moorer did, and followed them by lunging and grabbing Tua, to keep him from hitting back.

But in the second round, Tua found his range. The knockout came with a hard right to the head followed by a left that toppled the 247-pound Louisville, Ky., heavyweight at 1:41 of the round. He didn't get up until a ringside physician shined a flashlight into his eyes.

The knockout didn't surprise many, although not many saw it: The fight, the first bout on a card that was otherwise exhibitions, was held before a couple hundred people at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, an hour before the pay-per-view telecast of the exhibitions began.

The 252-pound Tua, who made $40,000 for the knockout, took the fight for the practice -- in the ring and in the gym preparing for it. He hopes his next opponent is former champion Hasim Rahman.

''I need to stay busy,'' he said afterward. ''The preparation is the thing.''

But he said it felt strange to be fighting in front of an empty house.

''I don't remember the last time I had to open a show. It was like going back to the beginning,'' he said.

The ''Fistful of Dollars'' fight card's biggest name was 44-year-old grandfather Tim Witherspoon. It featured eight heavyweights in a single-elimination tournament, but the results didn't count against their records.

In between matches, DJs on an adjoining stage rapped and spun discs, and live performances were planned.

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