Pink Cat, Underdog

Scott Walker is the longest of long shots to beat boxing legend Julio Cesar Chavez. But the skinny Mesa fighter who calls himself "The Pink Cat" isn't about to miss his golden opportunity.

McGregor and the Walker clan have become close in their two years on the same team. He admires how hard Pat and Mack Walker work so they can keep their furniture store and gym alive. He has seen the time and money Mack Walker invests> in amateur fighters, without benefit of grants, loans or financial aid.

And he respects his fighter for continuing to work hard and for being a gentleman.

"This is a good kid from a good family who has the chance to do something really amazing," McGregor says. "What more can youask for?"

Though his trainer is far from wealthy, Scott Walker says McGregor never has accepted a cent after working a fight.

McGregor shrugs and says, "He's always offered, but he hasn't made enough yet. I always tell him to give his mom my 10 percent. If I need $500 that bad, I'll try another line of work."

He freely admits the Chavez fight means almost as much to him as it does to Scott.

"I've never been in the big, big dance," McGregor says. "This is big, and it's going to be tough. Chavez is like Michael Jordan. He gets a step on you and any touch is a call against the other guy. Scott will have to win at least seven rounds clean to have half a chance. I know that."

Walker finishes working with Varela, slaps the younger fighter's gloves in appreciation, then returns to his locker at the rear of the little gym.

Standing on the ring apron, McGregor responds to a question about the dangers of boxing.

"Back in Chicago, they said I had the quickest towel in town," he says. "When I know a fighter isn't ever going to make the big score, I'll tell him at some point to get out of it. You can get hurt as bad in a $4 million fight as in a $400 fight. I can't tell you how often I've retired guys."

Where will Scott Walker fit into this blunt analysis if Chavez dispatches him?

"Making a couple of thousand three or four times a year isn't going to cut it," Mack Walker offers. "Scott wants to be out of this by the time he's 30. Four things can happen in Vegas: He does great, good, poorly or he gets taken out early. The first means big paydays ahead. The second one is okay. The third and fourth I don't even want to think about."

Scott is within earshot, but he's listening to Pam >Tillis wail, not his handlers. He hums along as he unwraps his hands and tosses the Kotex into a basket.

The Pink Cat has only one thing to say before he leaves Maxie's for the evening.

"February 9, 1996," he says with a purr. "I like the sound of it.

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