05-10-2009, 11:50 PM
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July 1, 1981
Source: Weaver Looking Past Tillis to Cooney
Mike Weaver has plenty on his mind these days: Two undefeated contenders, to be precise.
Weaver, scheduled to make his second defense of the World Boxing Association heavyweight title belt against James Tillis at The Spectrum later this month, has signed to face Gerry Cooney in October, the Inquirer has learned.
Tillis brings a 20-0 record, with 16 knockouts, and the WBA’s No. 3 ranking into his July 31 challenge of Weaver. He has never fought a ranked contender, however, with his biggest wins to date coming against the decidedly un-ballyhooed likes of Tom Fischer and Domingo D’Elia.
So Weaver might feel safe making plans for his future beyond Tillis. In the wake of his 54-second demolition of Ken Norton in May, Cooney (25-0, 22 KO) represents the biggest payday in the heavyweight division.
Sources close to the Spectrum card, promoted by Bob Arum, suggest Cooney will return to action in the main supporting feature, against an opponent to be named later this week.
With $5 million or more at stake for both fighters in the fall, taking a tune-up seems like a foolish risk for Cooney, who could do little to enhance his marketability, but plenty to hurt it with a sub-par performance.
Circumstances would dictate safety-first matchmaking, but if there has been a knock on the towering Long Islander to date, it has been the quality of his opposition. Norton, a former champion and longtime contender, had been destroyed in less than two minutes by Earnie Shavers in March 1979, then extended by journeymen Scott LeDoux and Randall Cobb before being gifted by the judges with a draw and a split-decision win, respectively.
Should Weaver and Cooney each prevail on July 31, their meeting would take place sometime in October, most likely in Las Vegas, the source said.
Unbeaten Philadelphia Tim Witherspoon is scheduled to appear on the undercard at The Spectrum, and Arum is said to be in negotiations to sign another top prospect coveted by rival Don King, Greg Page, for another preliminary bout.