Thursday, June 26, 1997 | 11:48 a.m.
Christy Martin has fought professionally since 1989 and has lost only once.
The woman who beat her, Andrea DeShong, is also her opponent Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden. They're matched in a 10-round bout at 135 pounds on the undercard of the Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson main event.
Martin and DeShong, while reasonably civil toward each other, also exchanged unpleasantries during Wednesday's final prefight press conference.
"Nice dress Andrea," Martin said, throwing a curve of sorts just to warm up. Before DeShong could acknowledge the compliment, Martin made it a little less complimentary.
"That's the first time I've ever seen you dress like a woman," she said. Martin then added a slightly muffled comment along the lines of "how does your girlfriend like it?"
That touched off a little t^ete-'a-t^ete that served as good theatre. And it was just racy enough to pique everyone's interest right on down to promoter Don King, who howled with glee.
Martin, 31-1-2 with 25 knockouts, is easily the biggest star in women's boxing. She recently renewed her contract with King, and it will extend for three years and be worth a minimum of $1.5 million.
She's getting $150,000 for this one.
While she hasn't fought since the last Holyfield-Tyson undercard in November, Martin has stayed in the public eye. She has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as well as on TV shows like David Letterman and 60 Minutes.
She's 29 years old and known in the ring as a slugger who gives and takes with equal aplomb. She is, to use a boxing term, a bleeder.
"I'm very careless in there," she admitted. "I think I get hit a lot. I take chances, but that's my character and style. I think that's what the crowd likes."
Martin definitely has a following.
"I feel for the rest of my career I'll be in competitive fights each and every time out," she said. "I want to fight the best. When I retire, I don't want people to say I was good but I never fought so-and-so. I'm here to fight the best."
DeShong, now 35, got the best of Martin when they met in 1989. She believes she can do it again.
"I came out of retirement after seeing Christy's fight with Deirdre Gogarty (March 16, 1996)," DeShong said. "I'm planning on giving her a boxing lesson. I'll show her something from my bag of tricks."
DeShong is 13-4-1 with seven KOs.
"She's been chasing me for years," Martin said. "Every time I'd turn around, Andrea would be there asking for a fight. She says she's got something for me in her bag of tricks, but we'll see what Saturday brings."
Around the ring
* MGM UNDERCARD: As usual on a King card, there are way more fights than the average fan can sit through. This time it looks like the total is nine undercard bouts beneath Holyfield vs. Tyson. That's enough to force the first bell to sound at 2:30 p.m.
One legitimate world title will be decided when WBC middleweight champ Keith Holmes takes on former IBF champ Paul Vaden. Each man has a professional record of 27-1. Neither was at Wednesday's press conference. Holmes, 28, has not lost since 1990 and won the WBC belt 15 months ago when he knocked out Quincy Taylor at the MGM. He has successfully defended once, beating Richie Woodhall last October. Vaden, 29, defeated Vincent Pettway in 1995 to take the IBF belt, but he lost it in his first defense when Terry Norris decisioned him over 12 rounds. He has since fought three times against lesser-caliber opponents.
There is also a WBO middleweight title fight although it doesn't look like much on paper. Titleholder Lonnie Bradley, 25-0-1, recently signed with King and is in with John Williams, who is 18-4 and without a significant win. Bradley is being paid $50,000 with the promise of more lucrative fights in the near future as King attempts to commandeer the division. "We're going to have a series of unification fights," he said, "and try to come up with just one middleweight champion."
Two men who figure to face off this fall in Mexico City also have spots on the pay-per-view portion of the telecast. Later this year Julio Cesar Chavez and Miguel Angel Gonzalez will meet for the vacant WBC junior welterweight title, but this week they're in with cream-puff opposition. Chavez, 99-2-1, will face little-known Larry LaCoursiere, 21-6-1, who was fighting at the six-round level prior to this 10-round assignment. "It's not quite the same as preparing for a title fight," Chavez admitted, although he's being paid as if it's a title fight as he'll receive $900,000. Meanwhile, Gonzalez, 41-1, is scheduled for 10 rounds with Bert Granciosa, 31-17-3, and collecting $40,000 for his troubles. "I feel a little nervous," Gonzalez said, the result of not having fought in five months. Granciosa comes into the fight with only four wins in his last nine matches. "I'll do my best," he promised, although he clearly is not in Gonzalez's class.
Further down the undercard and in fights they're expected to win are men like 27-0 junior lightweight Roberto Garcia, 27-3 heavyweight Billy Wright and 2-0 heavyweight Nate Jones.
* QUICK HITS: Las Vegas welterweight Ross Thompson lost by decision to Oba Carr in a 10-round bout Tuesday night in Baton Rouge, La. Thompson dropped to 20-3-1 while the highly regarded Carr improved to 41-2. ... Gary Bell, Holyfield's primary sparring partner, will risk his 14-0 record Tuesday in a fight on the USA cable network from Wildwood, N.J., with noted tough guy Louis Monaco. The latter is a deceiving 7-7. ... The big fight is only three weeks away, but Johnny Tapia has switched trainers. He dropped Jesse Reid and picked up Emanuel Steward just this week. Tapia will face his arch rival, Danny Romero, July 18 at the Las Vegas Hilton. ... BAM Promotions is considering a July 11 date at the Tropicana. ... Arizona Charlie's next card is set for July 30. ... Hector Lizarraga, who fought at Charlie's last month and is the IBF's No. 1 ranked featherweight, gets his mandatory title shot at Naseem Hamed July 19 in London. ... The vacant WBO heavyweight title will be filled Saturday in Norwich, England, when former Las Vegas resident Tony Tucker gets in with Herbie Hide. Tucker, a former IBF champion, is 54-5, while Hide is 28-1 and has lost only to Riddick Bowe. This could be the last chance for the 35-year-old Tucker, who has been training for this fight in Florida. ... The new manager for WBC junior middleweight champ Terry Norris said a proposed fight with WBA welterweight champ Ike Quartey is doable. "But it's all about money now," said Scott Woodworth from his San Diego office. Norris, now being promoted by Top Rank, has pulled out of an earlier announced fight with Felix Trinidad that was to have gone off in August. ... Four undercard bouts have been announced for the Lennox Lewis vs. Henry Akinwande fight July 12 at Lake Tahoe. Added to the card: Justin Juuko, a former Las Vegas junior lightweight with a 28-1-1 record, vs. Jorge Lopez, 17-5-1; Joel Casamayor, 6-0, vs. fellow junior lightweight Tony Duran, 12-16-1; Fernando Vargas, 3-0, vs. fellow welterweight Chris Johnson, 2-0-2, and a heavyweight fight featuring Brian Nielson, 34-0, against an opponent yet to be determined.