Never underestimate the power of women. After centuries of men
cheapening, exploiting and bloodying the nose of boxing, women
are making it even worse.
Take this Friday night, when Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila will
fight Joe Frazier's daughter Jacqui in Verona, N.Y., in a bout
billed as Ali-Frazier IV. The IV doesn't refer to intravenous
drip, which is what both will probably need after the fight
because they come at an opponent, eyes closed, as your little
sister did when you made fun of her braces. No, the IV refers to
this being the fourth time an Ali has fought a Frazier, the
first three having been more than 26 years ago, when their
fathers were building a historic rivalry welt-by-welt, a legacy
their spoiled-brat daughters are spending now like an allowance.
Hey, I know! Next, let's have Bjorn Borg's daughter play John
McEnroe's daughter, best of three sets! Let's have Larry Bird's
daughter go one-on-one with Magic's daughter! Let's have
Khrushchev's daughter bang her shoe on Caroline Kennedy's desk!
Methinks the billing for this Ali-Frazier bout is all wrong. The
promoters should have called it Dames with Names, because that's
all we're talking about, two cash-grubbing neofights who in no
way deserve to headline a card, much less get a hefty
pay-per-view paycheck--or their mugs on the cover of this week's
"Who have they fought?" asks bona fide junior welterweight Kathy
(Wildcat) Collins, who could whip them both and balance her
checkbook at the same time. "Prostitutes and cocktail waitresses!"
She's right. Two bouts back, Ali (9-0) KO'd purple-haired former
hooker Marjorie Jones, 48, who filled in at the last minute when
her son's girlfriend backed out. Jones, who swung as if cops were
trying to toss her in the vice wagon, lost in 1:08. Slam, bam,
thank you, ma'am!
In her debut fight Ali needed only 31 seconds to tip over
waitress April Fowler, who'd never fought before and is
presumably back slinging hash, not uppercuts. Customer
complaints are down, though.
Not that Frazier's opponents have been anything but blowup dolls.
In her first bout she took on 19-year-old Teela Reese, who turned
her back when she saw Frazier coming. Frazier has built a 7-0
record against opponents with a grand total of two victories.
No wonder these two phonies are cashing in now. If they wait much
longer, one of them might lose to a woman swinging her purse as
she settles into the first row.
It's not as if they need the money. The 23-year-old Ali owns a
successful nail salon and, from the tape I've seen, could fight
without breaking one. Frazier is a 39-year-old personal-injury
lawyer (motto: We break jaws, not laws!), though none of her
opponents would have a need for her legal services. She didn't
start boxing until last year, after she saw Ali doing it and a
great big dollar sign flashed before her eyes.
Honestly, is there anything more thrilling than a manicurist
brawling with a lawyer?
Meanwhile, real boxers such as lightweight Lucia Rijker--possibly
the best woman fighter out there--sit pulling their hair out,
waiting for their chance at recognition and money and national ad
campaigns. (Ali has two: Got Milk? and Dr. Pepper.) "I saw the
[TV Guide] cover, and I wanted to barf," says Rijker, who could
whip a few men in the ring and could slap Ali down while wearing
heels and a wedding gown. "You work really hard at something for
years and years, and then somebody else gets it all thrown in her
lap. That hurts."
Ali and Frazier are so shameless, they're openly trading on
their fathers' heroic images. Smokin' Joe's daughter calls
herself Sister Smoke. Laila, whose father liked to "float like a
butterfly, sting like a bee," calls herself She Bee Stinging.
Somewhere, Howard Cosell is biting his pitchfork.
"They're the greatest two names in boxing history," says
welterweight champion Christy Martin, who has been in the game
for 12 years and never headlined a pay-per-view fight. "Too bad
the wrong people will be in the ring."
Personally, I'm going to the big handbag sale at Macy's. It'll
be a better fight than this.
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA
Laila Ali is fighting Jacqui Frazier? Somewhere, Howard Cosell
is biting his pitchfork.