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Norris, Trinidad top four title fight card

January 10, 1997

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ ``Promises Made, Promises Kept,″ is the slogan Don King used to promote Saturday night’s fight card that opens this city’s new downtown arena.

Terry Norris and Felix Trinidad can only hope that King’s promise of a megafight for them turns out better than some of his plans for the Music City card.

Norris and Trinidad meet overmatched challengers in title fights that top a card of four championship bouts that has changed quite a bit since King promised to bring a big fight event here.

Missing are Lennox Lewis and Oliver McCall, who originally were to fight for the WBC heavyweight title. Also gone is Christy Martin, the noted female fighter whose presence was advertised locally until only a few days ago.

And to top it off, Hank Williams Jr. won’t unveil his new single, ``I’m Gonna Knock You Out,″ as previously promised by King.

``There were some problems with the studio,″ King said.

What’s left is a card that, on paper at least, features four title fight mismatches that should serve as little more than tuneups for champions who figure to have much bigger fights in the future.

Norris and Trinidad won’t have to wait long, having already signed contracts to meet each other in late May or early June in a fight that will earn both several million dollars.

``When I beat Norris I’ll show everybody I’m the best fighter, pound for pound,″ said the undefeated Trinidad, who makes the 12th defense of his IBF welterweight title against England’s Kevin Leushing (19-1, 16 KOs).

``It could be one of the great fights, like the Hearns-Hagler fight,″ Norris manager Joe Sayatovich said of a Norris-Trinidad fight.

Norris (44-6, 28 KOs) defends his IBF and WBC titles against Nick Rupa (26-4-1, 14 KOs), a Canadian who got a spot in the IBF top 10 rankings despite winning only three of his last five fights.

``Don’t blink, you’ll miss the fight,″ Norris said

The two other title fights include Frankie Randall’s defense of the WBA 140-pound title against France’s Khalid Rahilou (28-2, 14 KOs), who is ranked No. 1 by the organization but has never fought outside Europe.

And Henry Akinwande will defend the fringe WBO heavyweight title against Scott Welch in a rare matchup of British heavyweights fighting outside of London.

Akinwande (31-0-1, 19 KOs) is coming off a thrashing of Russia’s Alexandre Zolkin on the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield card, a fight that showed he has the talent to be considered a serious challenger for one of the main heavyweight titles.

``I don’t rank myself, but I think I’m in there with the top guys,″ Akinwande said. ``With Tyson losing, that opened a lot of opportunities. Now everybody is trying to come into the picture.″

In Welch (19-2, 16 KOs), Akinwande faces a fighter known more for his heart than his boxing ability. Welch may not have helped matters much at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference, when he threatened to go after Akinwande.

``I should have decked him right there,″ Akinwande said.

Randall, born in nearby Morristown, Tenn., is fighting for the first time since beating Juan Coggi in Argentina to regain the WBA junior welterweight title in August.

It was announced after the fight that he had tested positive for cocaine, but the WBA later overruled the test results.

``I’ve gone through so many things to keep this title,″ said Randall, who was the first fighter to beat Julio Cesar Chavez and has a 53-4-1 record with 40 knockouts. ``He’s going to get one of the worst beatings of his life.″

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