After Saturday night's four-round fiasco against a doughy, lethargic Mickey Rourke, Francisco Harris left the ring poised, unbruised, and victorious - in the eyes of everyone except two of the fight's three judges. Scoring the bout on the ten-point must system, one judge called it 39-38 in Harris's favor; inexplicably, the other two said 38-38. The result: a majority draw.
"I think it sucks!" an incensed Harris declared after the fight, speaking to reporters outside the Miami Beach Convention Center auditorium. "It wasn't a draw. I won. I won. That's highway robbery. He punched like a little girl."
The only action of the tentative first round consisted of the Hollywood star's unsuccessful attempts to intimidate his opponent not with punches but with taunts, gestures, and a doofus version of the Ali Shuffle. But Harris (now 2-2-1), a southpaw, clearly won rounds two and three, scoring with several short combinations that had the bizarrely coiffed "Marielito" Rourke (1-0-1 after this fight) retreating and on the verge of exhausted wheezing. At one point Rourke, who repeatedly responded to Harris's assaults by clutching his foe in an awkward headlock, spit out his mouthpiece - a flagrant, rule-breaking attempt to take in much-needed air.
Harris, a 32-year old native of St. Croix who entered the ring sporting a New Times towel and fought in the paper's official colors - white shorts with red trim - confirmed that Rourke's headlock strategy bothered him throughout, and that he feared working in too close because of Rourke's unboxerlike, wrestling style. "It's the leading-man syndrome," said a disgusted Harris as he signed autographs. "He's gotta hold on to someone. He fights nasty. He was choking me."
If the oblivious judges refused to acknowledge Harris's win, those watching the fight weren't shy about letting their feelings be known. "You were robbed, Frankie," declared one spectator. "You were great!" an autograph seeker affirmed. "You really won that fight." Others patted Harris on the back and asked if they could have their pictures taken with him. "I just want to shake your hand," one woman told the boxer, who until last week was better known for working six days per week installing custom rims at Howie's Tire and Wheel.
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As for Rourke, one Harris well-wisher observed, "He'd better not quit his day job."
Earlier Saturday, amid the carnival atmosphere of the weigh-in at The Strand, one of Rourke's favorite South Beach restaurants, Dave "The Czar of PR" Metzger told dozens of reporters and photographers representing the international press corps that Rourke's agent, Jayne Kachmer, had clamped down on the issuance of press credentials for her too-big-for-his-britches client's overhyped bout. Aside from her concern that she might not be able to control the way photographers peddled their pictures of the actor/boxer, it seemed Kachmer was also peeved about New Times's April 22 cover story profiling the previously unheralded Francisco Harris.
"She didn't like your story," said the Czar of PR. "I told her you guys's piece sold more tickets for this thing than any other paper." Ultimately Metzger succeeded in supplying credentials for New Times's staff, short-circuiting Kachmer by listing the paper under the improbable moniker, Loafer's Choice.
Although he and his management kept reporters waiting, and, good sports that they are, refused to grant post-fight interviews, Rourke did address a comment to New Times's Jim DeFede. Strolling into The Strand along with his posse an hour after the bout, the actor, widely known for his generosity of spirit, offered this assessment to the staff writer: "You're a real motherfucker, you know that?