Friday, July 10, 2009

Don King, Michael Jackson and King Kong

It seems as though Don King has always been here. This weekend he's in Sunrise, Florida promoting a fight card he has turned into a Michael Jackson tribute.

There were a few big heavyweights on the stage yesterday afternoon in Sunrise, Florida at the final pre-fight press conference ahead of Saturday's fight between Vic Darchinyan and Joseph Agbeko.

Their names were Don King, Michael Jackson and King Kong.

King was fresh from a trip earlier in the week to Los Angeles where he attended Michael Jackson's memorial service and engaged in a peaceful and harmonious show of respect with Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, as well as old friend Mike Tyson.

When he took the stage yesterday, King spoke as though Jackson was a live component of Saturday's big show at the BankAtlantic Center that will see Darchinyan and Agbeko battle for the latter's IBF bantamweight title belt.

Ever the promoter, King used Jackson's name and the U.S. Military as an opportunity to sell his latest show. Never mind that his man, Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko is from Ghana and Vic "The Raging Bull" Darchinyan was born in Armenia but now calls Australia home. King was able to seamlessly weave all of that into a prepared speech that tied together Jackson, the U.S military and a prizefight.

With two life-sized pictures of he and Jackson, that were taken 25 years ago looming large in the background, the self-proclaimed “World's Greatest Promoter” who once promoted the Jackson family in a series of concerts in the 1980's that he coined the “Victory Tour” began his spiel.

"The World's Greatest Promoter" usually doesn't go too far without his custom made jean jacket.

“On behalf of Michael Jackson and myself, we are dedicating all of these fights to the armed services and military – the vanguard of our nation, the protectors of our soil!” boomed King. “Those who enable us to enjoy the freedoms and the liberties that we do have, is those wonderful men and women of the military who put themselves in harm's way for our benefit.

King, who was draped in jeweled rivulets and adorned in his airbrushed and sequined jean jacket with “Only in America” and “The Greatest Nation in the World” emblazoned across the back, gave his thoughts on the death of “The King of Pop” as he waved tiny American flags in the 90 degree Florida air.

“I was shocked and saddened when I learned of his passing,” said King in a statement. “I shared the pain of Joseph and Katherine Jackson – without whom there never would've been a Michael Jackson. You never know how you'll will react to something like this, and I found it hard to do media interviews or even issue a statement. Like so many other people around the world, I've been trying to find a way to remember this musical genius, who I loved and who was a good friend of mine.”

After attending this week's star studded memorial service, and after some soul searching, King came to the realization that the best way to pay tribute in remembrance of his friend would be to make him part of the show on Saturday night. As a result, King will play Jackson's music and videos throughout the night's festivities. Prior to the televised main event there will be the traditional 10-bell count in honor of Jackson.

Gary Shaw stayed away from the U.S. military and Michael Jackson references. He was all business when it came to extolling the virtues of his man Vic, whom he works with on a handshake agreement that the two have apparently agreed is good for life.

“Vic is someone that I really, truly believe will someday be in the boxing hall of fame,” said the no-nonsense Shaw. “Someone that will win a third title in a third weight class, the greatest little fighter. When his career is done, I believe he will be considered the greatest little fighter ever.”

A top-10 pound-for-pound ranked fighter, Darchinyan has won world titles at 112 and 115 pounds and he has a solid chance of taking Agbeko's title belt back to Australia with him. Darchinyan is the odds-on favorite to upend the Ghanian and in a poll of boxing writers that was conducted earlier this week, nearly eighty percent favored Vic to win.

When Darchinyan, who speaks rapidly with a hybrid Armenian-Australian accent, had his turn at the podium he, like Shaw, didn't mince words.

“Don King, you are going to be sorry for letting Agbeko in the ring with me. You will see what I am going to do with him,” said Vic. “Five years I've been world champion. You are going to see a very good fight and a very exciting fight. I don't like my fights to go to the distance and I always go for the knockout and you will see. All of you – you will hear my punches – I punch very hard and you will feel sorry for him.”

None of that seemed to bother the smiling and easy-going Agbeko much. Making a play on his and his opponent's nicknames, Agbeko called Darchinyan “Raging Bullshit” and said the world best be prepared for the re-emergence of a Great Ape.

"The Raging Bull" is a big puncher who is beginning to be considered as one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

“I call this fight the genesis of 'King Kong,' said Agbeko. “The reason is because this fight is going to bring me to light. The whole world knows 'King Kong' the movie and soon the whole world is going to know 'King Kong' in the ring. I love this fight so much. I read all about what Vic says about me on the Internet and how he says he's going to beat me and knock me out. But I am going to punish him in the ring. I am going to beat on him”

But as usual, Don King, who speaks louder than just about anyone, would have the last word on this day.

“The Jackson 5 was black America's first family when they arrived on the scene forty years ago” said the high-haired King. “The people of America embraced them and took them into their hearts just like today, where we have the Obama family in the White House. Michael Jackson helped start the transformation of our people, our country, and like President Barack Obama today the message is the same and that message is hope, change and freedom.”

Now all we need is a “Thriller” of a prizefight.

July 2009

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