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Original Issue

Title fight leaves crowd groggy...Thirty-one and counting...Tie-dye makes a big comeback


The crowd at last Saturday night's IBF middleweight title fight in Reno, by champion James Toney's lackluster decision over Mike McCallum. It was one of those bouts in which every great moment remains etched in the memory. Let's recount them: referee Joe Cortez stopping the fight three times to replace McCallum's mouthpiece, Cortez stopping the fight twice so that McCallum could have his gloves retaped, Cortez stopping the fight once to penalize McCallum a point for hitting Toney with a hot-dog punch. After that things become really dim. Two of the judges thought Toney won this rematch easily—both gave him the decision by seven points—while the third scored it a draw.

The last time the pair met, in December in Atlantic City, they staged the fight of the year. This one was the fight of the night in Reno, unless there was some scuffle in a cowboy saloon, which would have dropped Toney and McCallum in the ratings. Only rarely did Toney display his trademark fury. After the bell rang to end the 11th round, McCallum hit Toney. Toney spun around, his caged temper about to be released. But when McCallum held up his gloved hand in apology, Toney merely shrugged and trudged back to his corner. In normal times Cortez would have had to call in the Nevada National Guard to pry Toney off the offender.

How to account for this change of disposition? Toney said before the fight that this would be his last as a middleweight. His off-duty weight is 185 pounds, and it was difficult for him to make the 160-pound limit. Also, after he won the title from Michael Nunn in May 1991, Toney's schedule was grueling. In the 11 months that followed, he had five title defenses. When it was suggested that the 24-year-old Toney may have been drained, Bill Miller, the champion's trainer, did not argue. "I'm going to recommend that James take a long rest," Miller said. "And no more middleweight fights."

After the last punch was thrown, Toney hurried from the Reno-Sparks Convention Center to find his limo missing. "I'm too hungry to wait," he said. Toney and three friends took a taxi to the nearby Clarion Hotel, where pizza, hamburgers and french fries were waiting. The fare came to $2.70. Toney tossed the cab driver three one-dollar bills. It was that kind of night in Reno for just about everybody.

To his 31st outdoor world record in the pole vault, Sergei Bubka of Ukraine. He cleared 20'1" at a meet in Padua, Italy, only three weeks after he no-heighted in Barcelona.

As of last week, primarily through the Grateful Dead's phone line (1-800-CALDEAD), more than 25,000 copies of the tie-dyed Lithuanian Olympic basketball team T-shirt, complete with a slam-dunking skeleton, at $30 apiece. The band had donated the original shirts as a gesture of goodwill to the financially strapped Lithuanians, who are receiving part of the proceeds from sales of the copies. "A little thing, a small gesture from the heart, has become a fad," says Dead spokesman Dennis McNally.



Toney (left) fought without his trademark fury.