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FBI looks to see if fight fix was in

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 28, 2000

The FBI is investigating allegations that once-beaten heavyweight Richie Melito was involved in fixed fights, the New York Post reported Sunday.

Melito's Aug. 12 fight against Thomas Williams, on the Evander Holyfield-John Ruiz undercard in Las Vegas, is under investigation. Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, said he was contacted by the FBI but was not questioned.

"They just informed me that there was an investigation into the fight," Ratner told the Associated Press.

The Post reported that federal officials have audio tapes of Williams admitting he was paid to take a dive against Melito.

Melito (34-1) knocked Williams out in the first round.

"I couldn't believe it," Don Turner, Holyfield's trainer, told the Post. "I couldn't see no punch that he got hit with. And when they showed the replay ... you could see the punch missed him."

Shelby Gross told the FBI he was offered $8,000 to lose to Melito last year, but he pulled out of the fight because of pride. "I accepted the fight at first," Gross told the Post.

Gross, a fighter from South Carolina, said the offer came from local promoter Bobby Mitchell, who works closely with promoter Don King. Mitchell has supplied more than half of Melito's recent opponents.

Mitchell denied Gross' claims. "Absolutely not," Mitchell said. "He was offered a fight with Melito, but was not told he had to take a dive."

Gross, wearing a tape recorder, spoke to Mitchell a day after Mitchell's alleged offer. He asked for $10,000 and made sure Mitchell repeated his demand for Gross to throw the fight.

Gross told the Post he took a down payment of $2,500 and used the tape to get out of a managerial contract with Mitchell.

MORE BOXING: Now that he has settled some personal business, Fernando Vargas can finally give Felix Trinidad his undivided attention. Ross Thompson might be glad, considering the treatment he got from Vargas on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Vargas knocked Thompson down three times, screamed at him and spit at him in a tuneup before a proposed Dec. 2 unification fight with Felix Trinidad. "We are moving up to bigger and better things," said Vargas, the IBF 154-pound champion. "I'm going to be Trinidad's worst enemy." ... Masamori Tokuyama won the WBC super-flyweight title with a unanimous decision over Cho In-joo in Osaka, Japan.

COLLEGES: Tampa defeated visiting Lock Haven 15-10, 12-15, 15-14, 15-5 in volleyball. UT finished unbeaten in the six-team, six-game Tampa Classic. ... Saint Leo captured its own volleyball tournament, defeating Clarion (Pa.) 15-3, 13-15, 15-9, 13-15, 15-2 in the final. ... Tampa defeated Blackwatch 8-1 in a men's soccer exhibition game. UT opens its season Wednesday at Webber.

HORSES: Rize won the $350,000 Philip H. Iselin Handicap in Oceanport, N.J. Sir Bear, the 7-year-old son of Sir Leon, finished second to surpass the $2-million mark in career earnings with $2,050,660. ... Pleasant Breeze led most of the way in a 23/4-length victory over Catienus in the $300,000 Saratoga Breeder' Cup Handicap for horses 3 and up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

SOCCER: The visiting Glasgow Rangers lost 6-2 to rival Celtic in the Scottish League. U.S. national soccer team captain Claudio Reyna scored for Glasgow. Reyna and the United States face Guatemala at Washington on Sunday in a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup. ... The Kansas City Wizards earned their second straight road tie, 1-1 Saturday night against the Colorado Rapids. Kansas City midfielder Preki made MLS history, becoming the first player with 50 goals and 50 assists. Kansas City clinched a playoff berth. ... Despite setting club records for shots and corner kicks, the host San Jose Earthquakes lost 3-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday night. The win clinched a playoff sport for the Galaxy; the Earthquakes were eliminated.

CYCLING: Lance Armstrong tuned up for the Olympics by teaming with U.S. Postal teammate Viatsjeslav Ekimov to win the Grand Prix Eddy Merckx time trial in Brussels, Belgium. ... World road champion Oscar Freire emerged from a sprint finish to win the second stage of the Tour of Spain in Cordoba. Alex Zulle retained the overall lead.

TRACK AND FIELD: Cuban long jumper Ivan Pedroso beat countryman Luis Meliz at the City of Padua meet in Italy, the three-time world champion's final tuneup for the Olympics. Former Florida sprinter Dennis Mitchell won the men's 100 meters in a wind-aided time of 10.10 seconds. ... Local runners Enrique Montiel and Patricia Jardon beat an international field of 14,000 to win the 18th annual Mexico City marathon.

OBITUARY: Bunny Austin, an outstanding English player who introduced shorts to tennis, died Saturday in Coulsdon, England. He was 94. Austin was one of the world's highest-ranked players in the decade before World War II. He and Fred Perry led Britain to four consecutive Davis Cup championships in the mid-30s.

ET CETERA: Shawn Watson of Lantana won his first pro wakeboarding title, the 2000 Pro Men National Championship in Orlando. ... Orlando Duque received a perfect score on a double back-somersault with four twists, capturing the Red Bull Cliff Diving world championship in Lanai City, Hawaii.

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