Ruddock has straightforward shot

Phil Jackman

March 18, 1991|By Phil Jackman

The odds on tonight's home run-hitting contest between Mike Tyson and Razor Ruddock in Las Vegas are 5-to-1 favoring the ex-champ. Which means the thinking is that Ruddock has a heckuva chance.

Think back over Tyson fights and the odds are usually in double figures, right up to the 30-to-1 odds Buster Douglas beat early last year.

Ruddock carries the best punch Tyson has ever faced, but the thing is he has to land it. Tyson rarely gives an opponent a chance to test his chin, all but long-jumping across the ring to commence his first assault.

Ruddock has the right idea when he says, "If you retreat, you'll get beat by Tyson, so I plan to go forward and do the best I can."

Tyson, who insists "you scare people by hitting them," nonetheless remains pretty good at intimidating with words, pointing out "we'll see if he slugs. I doubt it."

TC Safety first isn't an approach that works against Tyson. There is no dancing around and piling up points. It's who's there firstest with the mostest. Included on the pay-per-view card are Simon Brown and Maurice Blocker, both Washington area champs vying to consolidate the welterweight title and Julio Cesar Chavez taking on Johnny Duplessis for the junior-welter crown.

* They are known as franchise games -- games wherein, due to circumstances, it behooves a team to come up big. The Washington Capitals no doubt got the message over the weekend.

To review, it has not been a banner season for the Caps. Going back to the "Georgetown Incident" last spring, when a 17-year-old charged four high-profile players with sexual assault, a dark cloud has hung over the franchise. Since opening night last October, the season has been one of near total exasperation because of inconsistency.

A club that once cruised along 20 to 25 games over .500 while challenging the league's best for the top spot during the regular season, the Caps fell below the break-even point just before Christmas and remained there until . . .

Yes, the old nemesis Philadelphia Flyers were in, the Cap Centre was packed, including the usual 10 busloads of highly demonstrative Philly fans, and a great opportunity to make hay in the standings was at hand.

How many times in the past, with the 18,130 faithful on hand, had the Caps failed to live up to expectations? No need to count the ways, they stand well documented. Besides, who's keeping score after this "franchise game?"

The Flyers, as is their wont and style, came out with the guard up and ready to attack. Almost from the onset they were never in the game. Not once was the despised "Let's Go Flyers" roar heard as Philly fans were seen out walking the concourse by mid-second period. Imagine looking forward to a lengthy bus ride back to the City of Brotherly Love arriving at 2 a.m.

The Caps took a dozen shots in the first period and three of them went in. They were 2-for-8 in the second 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the Flyers were credited with 16 shots over two periods, but virtually none really tested goalie Don Beaupre.

The 6-0 victory boosting Washington into fourth place, a point behind Philadelphia with two games in hand, was so emphatic all the visitors could do is extract revenge for a Pier 6 brawl between the rivals a month ago. Surprisingly, the Flyers couldn't even win the fight.

The Caps, 7-1-2 of late in their own building, have eight games remaining, five at home. St. Louis tomorrow night and Boston next week are the only over-.500 teams on the slate and third place and a winning record are there for the taking.

So it's not the Stanley Cup; still, it's quite a comeback for a team that spent about two months in fifth place.

* In what was hopefully an unthinking moment a week ago, Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger said he might not be offering the school's facilities to the NCAA tournament in the future due to the treatment accorded the women's team in their tournament.

Given a higher seed, the Lady Terps had to hit the road because of the eight men's teams coming in here for a sub-regional showdown.

Geiger's sudden pique reminded of Lefty Driesell, who wasn't even in a position to make such a threat, saying pretty much the same thing when his Terps lost Cole Field House as a practice facility for the NIT to the NCAA tournament play. But then Driesell can never be accused of having his priorities on straight, can he?

Anyway, Maryland proved an exceptional host for the sub-regionals, easily outstripping about a half-dozen others who have been undertaking the assignment over the last few years. And area fans packed the joint for nearly every game, including the noon offering last Thursday when squads from nearby Albuquerque, N.M., and Stillwater, Okla., squared off.

To deny the fans who are asked to support Maryland and all collegiate athletics this goodie every so often might even be grounds for desertion.

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