Wednesday, August 22
Associate of Don King facing charges

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- A fighter and a boxing matchmaker were indicted on charges they fixed a bout in Las Vegas to pad the record of New York boxer Richie Melito Jr.

Robert "Bobby" Mitchell, an associate of promoter Don King Productions, and boxer Thomas Williams, of Washington, D.C., face federal sports bribery and conspiracy charges in the case, the U.S. Attorney's office in Las Vegas said Wednesday.

The men face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted.

The indictment, returned Tuesday by a U.S. District Court grand jury in Las Vegas and reported Wednesday by the New York Post, alleges that beginning in March 1995, Mitchell and others paid opponents to intentionally lose fights to Melito.

Mitchell, of Columbia, S.C., and Williams have not been arrested but will be extradited to Las Vegas once they are taken into custody, the FBI in Las Vegas said.

The indictment refers to allegations of fight-fixing elsewhere, but the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office in Las Vegas said they could not provide details about other venues because the investigation was ongoing.

Melito, a 31-year-old heavyweight from Queens, N.Y., has a professional record of 25-1 with 24 knockouts.

Neither he nor King was charged in the indictment.

Bob Goodman, vice president of boxing operations for Don King Productions in Deerfield, Fla., characterized Mitchell as an outside consultant.

Goodman said he had no comment about the indictment, but he recalled watching the fight.

"To me, it looked like a clean knockout," he said.

Williams last fought in October. His record is 26-10 with 16 knockouts.

The FBI began investigating after Melito knocked out Williams at 2:37 of the first round on Aug. 12, 2000, in Las Vegas, on the undercard of an Evander Holyfield-John Ruiz fight.

Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, told The Associated Press he saw nothing suspicious at the fight.

"I thought it was a legitimate knockout," Ratner said Wednesday, adding that the short fight -- in a nearly empty auditorium -- was memorable because Williams fell through the ropes onto a judge.

"It was filmed," Ratner said. "I saw the tape afterward. It showed a good right hand that knocked (Williams) through the ropes."

Ratner said he was contacted a few days after the fight by the FBI, but he was not called to testify before the grand jury.

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