HBO's unification series opened in March in Las Vegas with a fight that offered not only twelve rounds of spectator sport but an object lesson as well. The lesson was to pay attention to business.
Pinklon Thomas learned the lesson at the cost of his WBC heavyweight title, which by the end of the night was the possession of the challenger, Trevor Berbick.
Going into the bout, Thomas had been regarded as the best of the reigning heavyweight champions--Witherspoon ( WBA), Spinks ( IBF), and him. He figured to easily beat Berbick, a sturdy but awkward fighter. But the Pink Man, as he was known, succumbed to the malaise so many recent heavyweight titleholders before him had. He showed no spark.
Well, there was no empiric science of analyzing the mind of a fighter. But in the days before the fight Thomas provided a pretty fair clue that he might not be taking Berbick all that seriously. In the lobby of the Riviera Hotel and Casino, he spent hours selling audio tapes of himself crooning an easy-listening ballad written for him, called "Hanging on to Promises."