THEY LAUGHED WHEN MICKEY ROURKE SAID HE WAS making his debut as a prizefighter. But on the night of Thursday, May 23, in the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Mickey made ’em stop laughing. Instead they booed him to the rafters, and some of the 2,300 fans even chanted “Mickey sucks” as Rourke, fighting under the nom de stiff Marielito, danced, wrestled, wiggled, giggled and—occasionally—punched his way to a unanimous decision over a hapless 32-year-old auto mechanic named Steve Powell. (Powell’s trainer gave away a major part of his guy’s regimen when he said, “I’ve been working on him to quit smoking.”)
The 34-year-old Rourke, who hasn’t been razzed by so many people since the critics got a look at Wild Orchid, showed up for the fight in a white stretch limousine. He sequestered himself in his dressing room while his girlfriend, Orchid costar Carré Otis, posed for photographers and predicted that her man would most definitely moider da bum, probably around the second round of the four-round light-heavyweight bout.
Entering the ring, Rourke, who had had 26 amateur bouts as a teenager, seemed equally confident; he shadowboxed, danced a little and backpedaled some, bumping into one of his cornermen. Then he look off his robe, revealing gold satin shorts, slit up the sides and emblazoned with green shamrocks. The crowd, in rare form for the charity event, was already booing. The announcer noted that both men had weighed in at 178 lbs. After an uneventful first round, Rourke went to work, trying to pick Powell up and throw him over the ropes. He clowned, he hit below the belt and sucker-punched Powell while talking to the ref. Between rounds, Rourke gargled Evian water.
As the final bell sounded, Rourke gave his unmarked opponent a hug and kiss on the neck and invited him out for a beer. As with all mega-fights, there was a press conference afterward, featuring the victorious gladiator, not a hair in place, fielding questions from reporters: How would he describe his fistic style? “Animalistic.” What does the future hold? “Twelve or 14 more fights.” (The future, incidentally, also holds his next movie, costarring Don Johnson and due this fall.) Asked to characterize his opponent, whose record now stands at a lackluster 4-and-5, Rourke said, “He was quicker than I anticipated. They didn’t give me no pancake, ya know.” Then, lapsing into the fighter-as-philosopher mode, he said, “I don’t got no future really as a boxer, but I’m doing it to have a good time.”
MEG GRANT in Miami