McCall's hard sell goes the distance

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The Independent Online

For a press conference at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich yesterday, Oliver McCall wore slacks, a T-shirt and an expression that said: "I'm here on behalf of the box office." Asked if he was confident about Saturday's contest against Frank Bruno at Wembley Stadium in defence of the World Council heavyweight championship, he said: "I'm going to knock him out."

Don King beamed. "There's bad blood here," the master of trickeration declared happily. "Get your tickets now."

Two weeks ago, as the result of a fault in articulation, McCall was required to explain remarks that the British Board thought disreputable. However, careful to avoid further censure McCall was no less enthusiastic in marketing. First of all, he accused Bruno of referring to his father as a child beater. "It will be in my mind with every punch I throw," the champion said.

This stirred Bruno whose intention had been to remain impassive. "I didn't say that," he growled. "All I said was that I will spank you like your daddy used to. I've met your father and he's a nice man."

McCall went on and on and King went on beaming. "Get your tickets now," he repeated when McCall charged Bruno with arranging to obtain videos of his sparring sessions.

Recognising deficiencies in debate, Bruno had come armed with one of the oldest cliches in boxing. "I'll let my fists do the talking," he grunted. "I can do without this bullshit."

This did not deter McCall from his appointed task. "Even if you beat me it won't mean a damn thing," he said, "because you'll get knocked out in your next fight. What have you done? Three title fights. Three defeats. You're lucky to be going in with me." Much to King's disappointment, the challenger wouldn't be drawn. "I'd like to thank you for the opportunity," he replied. "Let's get it on right now," McCall said, attempting to step up the pace. "Not for free," King bellowed rising to his feet.

McCall tried again. "If you try those illegal shots to the back of head, I'm going to bust your face up," he threatened. This brought a response from Bruno's trainer, George Francis. "Sounds as though you're scared," he said.

Having gained King's approval, McCall decided to terminate the performance. "I'm out of here," he said. As the champion departed there was a smile on his face. "A bit of fun," he chuckled. To think it more than a passable effort was not to have been around in the days of Muhammad Ali.