Breaking Up Rox

Is The Gambler's arm sound? It appears to be. Look at it this way: It's as sound as Bichette's knee.

Let's hope that Gebhard goes ahead and trades Bichette for some authentic pitching. The remaining Blake Street Bombers will still produce plenty of power, and Rockies fans will get over this particular episode of postpartum depression a lot sooner than they might imagine. Don't worry: The baby boys will grow up. Someday, they'll even make us proud. In the World Series.

In the meantime, leave Vinny Castilla's balls and strikes alone, okay?

Let us give thanks, just for a moment, that the most heroic figure these days in the beclouded sport of boxing is a Reno, Nevada, district judge named Mills Lane. As you know by now, Hizzoner doubles as a fight referee. In the space of just two weeks, it was his unhappy duty to disqualify Mike Tyson in his ear-chomping bout with Evander Holyfield for the WBC heavyweight championship and to disqualify Henry Akinwande for excessive holding and failure to fight in his WBA title fight with Lennox Lewis.

How unusual was this quiniela? In the last 105 years, there have been just two other heavyweight title disqualifications. (Tell us about those by the count of ten and we'll send you a speed bag and your very own pair of ten-ounce gloves.)

Boxing has become a sewer, so the sordid melodrama of these "fights" comes as no surprise. Still, Mills Lane's decisions are paying an unexpected and welcome dividend. To wit: Don King has been knocked off his throne.

The ex-Cleveland numbers runner, killer and pitchman who has held boxing hostage since he started gouging the purses of Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes suddenly finds himself fresh out of fighters--and thus scams. His top earner, Tyson, has had his license to box revoked for at least a year and $3 million of his $30 million purse confiscated. His whole foolish career now appears in jeopardy.

Akinwande was King's No. 2 pug; now he, too, has had his purse held up and faces sanctions from the ever-vigilant Nevada State Athletic Commission. King's third most lucrative heavyweight? Why, none other than the illustrious Oliver McCall, who in his fight with Lennox Lewis burst into tears, the apparent victim of a nervous breakdown.

That leaves the depleted King stable with just one big horse, heavyweight Francois Botha, and he has the same chance of winning a title against any decent opponent as the Denver Nuggets have of creaming Chicago for the NBA championship.

To the delight of many onlookers, Don King fell down a short flight of stairs while trying to leave the ring after the July 12 Akinwande debacle and has remained uncharacteristically silent and absent ever since. If we're lucky, King's little stumble will prove to be more than symbolic. Don't you wish Mills Lane, one of boxing's few heroes, had counted him out right there on the steps?

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