Boxing: Bruno makes do with plain Truth

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The Independent Online
PROBABLY for purposes of morale, Frank Bruno vehemently rejected the notion that life is not what it was for him before Lennox Lewis flattened Donovan 'Razor' Ruddock and succeeded to the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship. 'I'm not an envious sort of guy,' he said yesterday at a press conference to announce Carl 'The Truth' Williams as his next opponent.

Bruno, more or less, is where he planned to be at this stage of his comeback; undefeated, ranked by the ruling bodies, a credible challenger for the title that proved beyond his abilities when going in with Tim Witherspoon and Mike Tyson. Trouble is that Lewis happened along and stole his thunder. Since then, the boxer who became Britain's most popular sports personality has been on the outside looking in.

The inference hardened Bruno's eyes. 'I don't begrudge Lewis a thing,' he said. 'Good luck to him. If none of you people wrote a thing about Frank Bruno it wouldn't matter to me. It would matter to Mickey Duff because he's the promoter, the man who has to sell tickets. As far as I'm concerned there's a big cake in front of us and we can all get a share.'

Duff is never slow to state his case, and he states it over and over again. 'If you think of the European television money Frank would bring to the table he would be a more attractive proposition for Riddick Bowe than any of the heavyweights they seem to be thinking about other than Evander Holyfield and George Foreman,' he said.

There was a time when Bruno and Duff were reluctant even to consider getting things on with Lewis. Now it is the contest they mostly have in mind. 'In September, and providing there was no live television, it would draw 80,000 at Wembley Stadium,' Duff added. Last week he got together with Lewis and his manager, Frank Maloney. 'We weren't negotiating, just talking.'

That is a way of life in boxing. Frequently, there is more talking than fighting. Now it was time to drum up business. Bruno versus Williams. 'Tough cookie,' Bruno said, warming to a familiar script. 'Good jab, moves well.' He wanted us to ignore pantomime routine. 'I'm taking him very seriously.' Bruno took his last opponent, Pierre Coetzer, so seriously that the South African came in for some serious manhandling. No more the nice guy. 'It's a serious business,' Bruno added. 'I have to get there by hook or by crook. I can't afford to lose.'

Untrained patrons of the noble art, patently unable to differentiate between a jab and an upper- cut, have probably fallen for the ludicrous idea that Herbie Hide is not the novice he proved to be when winning the British heavyweight championship last Saturday, but a credible contender for the world title. 'I don't wish to speak about him,' Bruno said.

Duff preferred to speak about Williams, inevitably pointing up the high spots in his record; a points loss to Larry Holmes for the International Boxing Federation title. A decision over Jesse Ferguson, who recently made a mess of Ray Mercer's ambitions. 'He had Tommy Morrison down before getting stopped in the eighth round,' Duff emphasised. It is the tail end that usually gives them away. Williams has lost three of his last seven contests. 'We tried for Witherspoon,' Duff said, 'but it fell apart.'

The truth about 'The Truth' is that he looks like an ideal opponent for Bruno; bit of a name, been in with some good men. They meet at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham on 24 April, his first British fight outside London. 'Handy for my training quarters, Springs,' Bruno said. He wanted us to give the place a mention. Seems it gets him a discount.