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Don King: "You can't keep a good man down"

Bermane Stiverne (C) referee Jack Reiss (L) and promoter Don King pose for photos after Stiverne defeated Chris Arreola in their WBC Heavyweight Championship match at Galen Center on May 10, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Don King once said, “You can’t keep a good man down” and at 82-years-old he is still living by that philosophy. King is back up, even though it is likely temporary.

Nobody understands the importance of a heavyweight title better than Don King. Some describe him as the “world’s greatest promoter” and he made a career as well as hundreds of millions of dollars by promoting numerous heavyweight champions of the world beginning in the 1970s straight into the new millennium. It has only been in the last six or seven years with the total dominance of the Klitschko brothers that King lost his grip on the heavyweights.

But now, King is back on the heavyweight scene. How long he stays there basically depends on the fortunes of Bermane Stiverne whom he promotes and who recently picked up the vacant WBC belt with his win over Chris Arreola.

King has blamed various entities on his being shut out of the heavyweight picture. He points the finger of blame at the suits of HBO and Showtime as well as at rival promoters and various managers. But the most significant factor which contributed to the sidelining of Don King has been the brothers Klitschko - Vitali and Wladimir - who both refused to work with him. There was a time when King courted both heavyweight champion brothers and even offered them $100 million to fight each other. There was another time when King, who knew the brothers were smart and artistic sorts, tried to impress them by playing the piano at one of his homes. When Vitali looked closer he saw that King was not playing at all but that a machine was actually manipulating the keys. They figured him as a con man.

But now that King is a fringe player and has one heavyweight titles back in his grasp (Wladimir Klitschko holds all the others) you can rest assured that he is going to do everything within his dwindling power to keep it as long as he can. At last week’s post-fight press conference it was King who rambled on for the better part of an hour about returning to the heavyweight mountaintop. Stiverne was muted.

Wladimir Klitshcko has expressed the desire to unify the titles as quickly as possible and face Stiverne immediately which is not a scenario that King embraces. There is also the mandatory title defense that Stiverne must make against #1 contender Deontay Wilder. King is not enamored with that idea either and said that his man is at least entitled to an optional title defense of his newly won title.

There was a time that King would have been able to cause havoc and chaos with his shenanigans. In other words, Stiverne would fight who King selected and the WBC would have acquiesced to his desires. These days that is probably not going to be the case. The balance of power has shifted away from King and into the hands of adviser Al Haymon, Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime. Since Wilder is aligned with that triumvirate and King is not – well, it appears as though Stiverne may just have to meet Wilder next.

There will also be no unification with Klitschko soon. The WBC’s President Mauricio Sulaiman released a statement via its website May 14 that in part read: “The desire of Wladimir Klitschko to become the absolute heavyweight champion of the world will have to hang fire... for the moment. Wladimir will have to wait for the title shot against current champion Bermane Stiverne, because he first has to face his mandatory rival. The agreements must be respected. We made that decision at the last Convention and Deontay Wilder is the mandatory challenger. So Bermane Stiverne has to face him first.”

If there is a way for that process to be circumnavigated you can bet Don King - with his hair standing on end - is currently searching for it.

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