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Eddie Mustafa Muham-

mad said it himself:

His recent career can be

summarized in only two

words: inactivity and con-

troversy. The 32-year-old

former WBA light heavy-

weight champion, a veteran

and one of the few world-

class boxers to combine de-

fense and boxing skills with

documented kayo power,

44-6-1 (35), lost his title to

Michael Spinks in 1981 and

has fought only six times

since. There have been no

further losses. In fact, four of Eddie's wins have been

against top-20 competition, including Pablo Ramos, Lottie

Mwale, Jerry Celestine, and Tyrone Booze. But no one

would call Eddie Mustafa Muhammad a hot fighter. The

nadir was struck in July 1983, when he scaled over the

division limit before a scheduled Washington, D.C., title

fight rematch with Spinks. Claiming that the scales had

been rigged, Eddie refused to lose the extra weight. The

bout was switched to a 10-round non-title contest, but

Spinks chose to pull out later that day and, during a wild

evening press conference, the police were called in to quiet

the chaotic scene.

Eddie was suspended, and he remained inactive for

almost a year. He came back to the ring with a one-round

stoppage of Andy Russell in the Cayman Islands in May

1984. After that bout, he bloated to 212 pounds and had

to shed 32 pounds to make the weight for his United

States return, a New York City-I0 rounder against Booze

in February. Still insisting he can make light heavyweight,

Eddie scaled 180 and won a unanimous 10-round verdict.

But not, of course, without some controversy and excite-

ment along the way.



The weigh-in is scheduled for 10 a,m, at the New York

State Athletic Commission offices in downtown Manhattan.

Later that night, at the Garden's bargain basement

building, the Felt Forum, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad will

fight Tyrone Booze. Several fight figures and commion-

ers rill the seventh-floor

lobby and the room that

holds the official scale.

Madison Square Garden

matchmaker Harold Wes-

ton Jr. waits patiently, as

does Booze and his manag-

er, the colorful F. Mac

Buckley. The clock keeps

ticking. It is 10:30, and Ed-

die Mustafa Muhammad

has still not arrived.

"With Eddie you know it will always be interesting," says Weston.

Eddie appears with man-

ager-attorney Doug Thomas and a small entourage at

10:40 a.m. He looks tired and drawn, and remains

speechless. One wonders if he was telling the truth two

days before, when he said he weighed 176, "no prob-

lem." The contract for the bout is 179 pounds, give or

take a pound. In other words, Eddie can weigh as much

as 180, but not an ounce more.

Whispers begin, but the subject is not Eddie's weight.

Word quickly spreads: There are four sheriffs and a

lawyer at the weigh-in, and they aren't just interested

spectators. They have handcuffs with them. And they've

come to get Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.

After a 20-minute delay that only adds to the drama,

Eddie strips down to his briefs and eyes that familiar

nemesis, the scale. A semicircle of onlookers forms and

commissioner Petey D'Ella calls for more space. At 11

a.m., Eddie steps up and, standing on his toes, weighs in.

There is an unattractive roll of flesh around his midsec-

tion. "One-eighty-one," D'Ella reports after balancing the

scale. Eddie will have to reduce one more pound.

"We have a Detecto scale at Eddie's, it must've been

off a couple of ounces," says Thomas.

Unemotional and seemingly unaffected by the sur-

roundings, Booze weighs in immediately after. "One-sev-

enty-nine-and-a-halt," D'Ella announces. Booze smiles

and steps down.

“We gonna wipe that smile off your face,” one of

Eddie's followers threatens the Connecticut light-heavyweight.

"Hey, I'm from the ghetto, too,"

Booze responds calmly. "You can't

pull that on me."

Meanwhile, Buckley huddles with

Doug Thomas and tells him to "just

have Eddie move around a little bit."

Buckley is willing to waive the con-

tracted weight limit if Eddie shadow-

boxes for 10 or 15 minutes. Eddie

heads out of the room and across the

hallway to the bathroom. His entou-

rage follows, as do the sheriffs. One of

the sheriffs asks deputy commissioner

Marvin Kohn if there is an escape-

window in the bathroom. Kohn says

there is, but adds that it's a long way


At 11:13 a.m., Eddie reenters the

room and weighs in at 180. "I'll take

it," he says. Buckley is satisfied. Eddie

sits down on a metal chair and quickly

gulps down three cups of chicken soup

served from a thermos by one of his

supporters. "I want to walk around a

little bit," he says, and he and his

people leave the room, with the sher-

iffs and lawyer alongside.


Eddie Mustafa Muhammad spends

the afternoon of his fight day in the

judges' chambers at New York Su-

preme Court. The sheriffs have

brought him there to answer a con-

tempt-of-court citation in a civil suit

wherein one of his former lawyers,

Daniel Kornstein, is suing for $35,000

in back legal fees. Eddie paid a $250

fine and was told to reappear in three


"It's an incident that happened a

long time ago," Eddie later expalins.

"It was between my brother and this

lawyer. I wanted to pay the attorney,

but I was away for two months. After

what took place in Washington, noth-

ing can distract my concentration."


It is 7:45 p.m., and the New York

boxing writers, most of whom are un-

aware of the legal episode that has

highlighted Eddie Mustafa Muham-

mad's afternoon, stand outside the Felt

Forum dressing rooms and wait for

hi. There is an eight round prelimi-

nary bout already underway, but Ed-

die, who is scheduled to fight as early

as early as 9p.m, hasn't yet shown up.

Concerned that he might lose his

feature fight, matchmaker Weston is even more edg than he was in the morning. And anager Buckley, one of Connecticut's top criminal lawyers jokes that “Maybe Eddie needed me this afternoon.”

Finally, one of the commisioners informs the writers that Eddie has arrived and is in his dressing room. But no one is allowed to interview him.

A junior middleweight named Carl Wilson kayos his opponent, Shawn Flynn, in the fourth round of a scheduled six round bout, and only a minute or two after ring announcer Dr. Marvin Goldberg raises the arm of the victor, Booze and Mustafa Muhammad are climbing through the ropes. Eddie, accompanied by his chief handler Don Caesar, is his usual confident self, expressionless, motionless, and unexcited, at least on the outside. It's his first fight in the United States in more than two years and his first fight in his hometown in almost six.

The fighters are introduced and giv-

en their instructions by referee Joe

Santarpia. The crowd, slightly bigger

than the usual cozy Felt Forum Friday

night house, is decidedly behind the

Brooklyn-born Mustafa Muhammad,

but quietly so. The opening bell rings,

and the fighters carefully move toward

one another. There has been none of

the extended prefight ceremony that

one would normally associate with the

comeback of a former world champi-

on. Nor is there more than a hint of

tension or electricity around ringside.

No one expects the limited Booze to

outbox Eddie or knock him out. The

way to defeat the often lazy and unin-

spired former titlist is to out-hustle

him. But Booze, surprisingly effective

in his previous bout, a critical 10-round

draw against Tim Broady, fights tenta-

tively. The first round is particularly

uneventful, as Booze allows Eddie to

pin him against the ropes and lean on

him. It becomes apparent from the

fight's start that neither light heavy-

weight will set a jackrabbit pace; if

Eddie is worried that he will wilt in the

late rounds, Booze will afford him the

opportunity to conserve energy over

the first half of the bout.

Eddie scores with a couple of jabs in

the second and shakes Booze with a right uppercut in the third. The fighters are content to infight. Seemingly glued at the forehead, they punch only in spurts. The difference in power is evident by the sound the body blows make. When Booze fires to Eddie's fleshy sides, there is a dull, almost polite tone. But when Eddie hooks to Booze's hips or ribs, there is more of apop, a smack, a thud. Predictably, however, Eddie's power is spent by the

seventh round.

"Usually when I dig that hook in,

they go," Eddie says later. "He was

looking at me and saying, 'Let's go.' 1

didn't want to tell him, 'Hey, that's all I got!' "

Booze starts fast in the sixth and

wins the seventh, but Mustafa Mu-

hammad regains control in the eighth

with superior defense and accurate

counterpunching. There is a wild ex-

change at the end of the eighth, and,

for the first time in the bout, the fans

stand and scream. Eddie does all the

scoring in the ninth and wants the

kayo, but doesn't come close in the

10th. The judges award him the unani-

mous decision by cards of 9-1, 6-4,

and 6-4. KO scores for Mustafa Mu-

hammad as well, 7-2-1. The victory is

not exciting, but in the ring, Eddie

Mustafa Muhammad rarely is.

"The type of fighter I am, I don't

want nobody easy," a tired but now

more talkative and cordial Eddie says

in a crowded dressing room. "In the

event Michael Spinks wants to fight

me, I'll be in shape."

"But Eddie," a writer asks, "is it

still realistic to think you can make 175 pounds?"


"As realistic as you standing there,"

he answers. "I want to be realistic, I

want four more fights before Spinks.

Michael Spinks needs me. I'm like the

white guy in the division."

Across the hall, Booze says he felt in the ring like Dan Marino in the Super Bowl. "I was never able to throw the touchdown pass," he reasons. "He's fair, though. I have to give him credit. I was relaxed and I wasn't scared, but I was in there with one of the best in the world. I learned from him."

Buckley, who says he's known Eddie

since the fighter was a welterweight in

the amateurs, is much more critical.

"If Tyrone did one-fifth of what he

should've done, this would have been

an easy fight for him," he says. "He

just never got off. Eddie's a nice guy,

but he should quit fighting. He's not

going anywhere. Just look at the guy.

He looks like Jackie Gleason. There's

no muscle tone, nothing."

Friends, relatives, and writers remain

in Eddie's dressing room long after the

bout is over. Thomas invites everyone

to a victory party. He says Eddie will

fight again in five weeks. "He's not on

the networks' shit list," he says.

just wanted to see some activity."

"My career has been nothing but

inactivity and controversy,” says Eddie. “Now I just want to be a fighter.”

KO Mag June 1985


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