Daly tells of high drama as High Noon slides into oblivion

BELEAGUERED John Daly of Hemdale, the main promoter behind the doomed High Noon in Hong Kong boxing extravaganza, made one last-ditch effort to put the show back on - but it was laughed off by boxing promoters Barry Hearn and Bob Arum.

Daly had apparently found another major player in the multi-million dollar event, but everybody concerned in the fight had lost faith in him and his organisation - and had gone home.

The four-fight programme featuring World Boxing Organisation (WBO) heavyweight champion Herbie Hide was scheduled for the Hong Kong Stadium yesterday but it was cancelled dramatically on the eve of the action because the fighters' purses could not be guaranteed.

Daly claimed high-roller Bill Fischer was prepared to put US$500,000 up front to save the event - about US$271,000 short of the US$771,000 owed to boxers and managers.

But an angry Hearn, who left the territory last night, said: 'I heard nothing about this until this morning. If they had come to me with this last night [Saturday night] I would have slanged it so fast out of the door like the milk man.

'I wouldn't have believed it anyway. It's ridiculous. They had months to find a backer and they had months of promotion to get the show off the road. They failed and it's now all finished.

'I can't believe that they found one [a backer] hours after it has been cancelled when they couldn't do it in the three months they were given. The event is being promoted in Hong Kong and not on Fantasy Island! 'There's no way it will ever be held in Hong Kong.

'It would have been a great show and I came here especially for it.' Then Hearn pointed an accusing finger by saying: 'Who is going to pay for the outstanding amount? For the hotel and the suppliers? A lot of people are going to be hurt by it. Never, never again.' Sources said the touring entourage, most of whom had left the territory by last night, have left a US$200,000 bill at the Regal Hong Kong Hotel in Causeway Bay.

High Noon was doomed from the start when organisers were bombarded by problems starting with a threat by the Hong Kong Boxing Association not to sanction the fights.

Then Hearn said two weeks before the fights that he was going to pull out his fighters - Hide and Ireland's Steve Collins - unless he was given a letter of credit. He never got it.

Even the official hotel for the fight, the Regal Hotel, had issued an ultimatum to organisers saying they might force the touring entourage out of the hotel if a $150,000 deposit was not paid on time.

High Noon in Hong Kong is off but it is likely to be held in Connecticut at the Foxwood casino on December 17.

And Top Rank boss Bob Arum, who is contracted to pay the fighters, said the eight boxers will be paid deposits to cover their expenses which is believed to be up to US$50,000 for each camp.

Arum said he will honour his obligations to the fighters.

The new date and venue are yet to be confirmed but Arum said confirmation will be made at the end of this week, as he is obliged to do so under the terms of the postponement clause on the contracts.

Most of the eight fighters are expected to agree to the new arrangement.

Some had expressed concern about the new possible venue, especially Billy Schwer's camp who feared it may be in California, where his opponent, Rafael Ruelas is based.

Foxwood is a native American-run casino which takes around US$30 million per month.

Arum has promoted there before and it is expected to be on safe ground.