- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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If I believed all the spin that I've been served from Don King in my years on the boxing beat, I would have fallen over dead by now from being so dizzy.
I know better. In fact, whenever I receive a press release from The High-Haired One's loyal publicist, Alan Hopper, as I did Thursday, it's unfortunate that I am conditioned to just assume King isn't going to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. When I get these missives, my BS detector goes haywire.
The detector was off the charts with the latest release, which was so loaded with crap that I hope Hopper felt guilty sending it out.
King's latest and greatest came with the bold headline: "K2 Promotions Offered Team Valuev $2.5 Million; Team Valuev Accepts.'"
King, of course, co-promotes former heavyweight titlist Nikolai Valuev with Germany's Sauerland Event. There have been discussions between Valuev's camp and K2, the company owned by heavyweight champion brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, about Vitali potentially facing Valuev.
The headline sure got my attention (while the BS detector was going berserk) and I continued reading.
"No more lies, K2," the Team Valuev release began. "No more posturing. No more subterfuge. No more deceit."
Then the release went on to explain that "Team Valuev" was announcing that it accepted a $2.5 million offer for Valuev to challenge Vitali.
"Due to many incorrect representations in the past, I want to make it perfectly clear that K2 Promotions has offered Nikolai Valuev $2.5 million to face Vitali Klitschko, and on behalf of Team Valuev, we are accepting their offer," King said in the release. "Nikolai Valuev is the pride of Russia and the Russian people, and he wants to fight for his country and his fans. I hope K2 keeps their word. I hope we are done with the excuses, be they physical, financial or otherwise. Let's get it on. Let's go to the mat. My man Niko is going to knock Vitali out."
All well and good, except it's a load of you know what.
The reality is that King overplayed his hand with Valuev and has nowhere to go. Valuev is about to be bumped out of position for an elimination fight with Odlanier Solis because Ray Austin is on the verge of being reinstated into the fight after his threat of a lawsuit against the WBC for bouncing him from his (brutally undeserved) No. 1 ranking suddenly helped WBC president for life Jose Sulaiman find religion. That leaves Valuev to either accept a fight with Klitschko (under Klitschko's terms) or exercise his option for a rematch with David Haye, a far less lucrative fight.
The reality is that the so-called $2.5 million offer from K2 is months old and hasn't been on the table for ages. In fact, the offer to Valuev was made around January for him face Klitschko on May 29, a fight that ultimately went to Albert Sosnowski (for a lot less than $2.5 million).
What King did by "accepting" the offer on Thursday was as if you were offered a job in January, turned it down and then suddenly accepted it again in June, long after the company had filled the position. Well, Klitschko filled the position with Sosnowski.
"We offered them the $2.5 million when we had the May date and the soccer stadium as a venue," Shelly Finkel, Klitschko's adviser, said.
The months-old offer of $2.5 million came after King originally asked for a laughable $4 million.
Bernd Boente, Klitschko's adviser (who was basically laughing when we spoke), offered, "That offer was for a fight that went to Sosnowski. They rejected it. King wanted $2.5 million net, plus he wanted Russian and U.S. TV rights. The guy is completely nuts. It's typical Don King. It's a joke. What he put out was a lie. That offer is over and not available anymore.
"The time of year is different, the venue is different, the exchange rate with the Euro is different. The Sauerland people wanted it for May. They begged for it. But Don didn't want it and now it's over."
Klitschko is still willing to fight Valuev, Boente said, but because of the variables, the offer for an October fight is less.
"We have offered them $1.5 million for the next fight," Boente said. "We will not raise it one dollar. It has been on the table for weeks. King can't get more than that for Valuev against anyone else and he knows it. Let him go fight Haye again or wait forever."
Considering that Valuev is coming off a loss to Haye and should have had a loss hung on him by Evander Holyfield in the fight before that were it not for a gift decision from some very generous judges, he's probably not even worth $1.5 million. Not surprisingly, King doesn't get it. But my BS detector does.