"Angel Hernandez," says the Fight Doctor, Ferdie Pacheco, "is one heck of a boxer, unbeaten through 38 bouts. But his chances of beating Julio Cesar Chavez in Mexico City and in a 17th century bullring are about as good as a bull's against a matador."
Even if Pacheco knows what he's talking about (sometimes questionable) and Chavez runs his victory skein to 80 (no misprint) quickly, the tripleheader championship event on Showtime tonight (10) could well be boxing's show of the year.
Julian Jackson (43-1) defends his middleweight title against Ron Collins (21-1) and, if knockouts are your bag, Jackson's your man. He's got the most powerful single punch in the game today as his 41 KOs attest. A fight of his hasn't gone the distance since 1982. Collins has fought just once since losing to Gilbert Baptist at the end of 1990. Baptist lost an NABF title bout to Vincent Pettway in Baltimore recently.
If the heavily favored Chavez and Jackson eliminate their foes with dispatch, the junior welterweight scrap between veteran Edwin Rosario (37-4) and Akinobu Hiranaka (19-1) isn't a bad matchup to fall back on. Rosario's been fighting since 1979, he's been in with all of them, including Chavez (TKO by 11), and he's vulnerable. Hiranaka is 17-for-19 in the KO department.
The bouts are at the ancient El Toreo bullring, the 14,000-seat stadium recently being updated with the addition of a dome.
"We'll be able to send some pictures never seen before by fight fans," says Showtime producer Jay Larkin.
Actually, it's a huge weekend for the Sweet Science, George Foreman checking in tomorrow (9:30 p.m.) to pick up another $3 million from HBO. Alex Stewart is the opposition and, although he has a punch and other credentials, he's been serving as a straight man for Big George all week and probably doesn't really believe he can win.
* With college hoops out of the way until another March, baseball skitters hither and yon all weekend with the Masters golf tourney grabbing center stage. The cardigan set got a solid 9.0 rating last year with its dramatic ending, but ad people are always reminding us that among folks making $60,000 a year or more, that rating leaps ahead to 13.8. Despite this snob appeal news and the fact I never plan to buy a Cadillac, I'm going to watch anyway.
Before Channel 2 gets to the Orioles in Toronto tomorrow and Sunday (1:30 p.m.), ESPN's lineup tonight has Tigers vs. Yankees and/or Pirates vs Phillies at 7:30 p.m. and A's vs. White Sox and/or Dodgers vs. Padres at 10:30 p.m. No wonder commentator Pete Gammons claims, "We are the baseball channel."
Of course, this is pretty much conceded by CBS, which will lounge around for another week or so before it starts its 16-game series. Sheesh, 16 games! ESPN will have done that many by the end of the weekend, plus scores of cut-ins.
USA Network finishes up its stint at Augusta today (4-6 p.m.) before Jim Nantz, Pat Summerall and the gang switch to CBS blazers for the last two rounds tomorrow (3:30-6 p.m.) and Sunday (4-7 p.m.). For some reason known only to them, the boothmen always sound better on cable than they do on network, more relaxed and assured.
Don't dare miss the award ceremony Sunday evening wherein (( the champion slips into the fabled green jacket. It's positively captivating.
* Let's hear it for Channel 2! Sure, the fellas on York Road had a tough time of it Opening Day, missing the biggest play of the day both live and on replay; still, they're making up for it this weekend: NBC has the NBA (Jazz vs. Lakers) tomorrow (3 p.m.) and Sunday (Spurs vs. Blazers, 3:30 p.m.), and WMAR will pick up the games in progress after Orioles games instead of just chucking on one of its million episodes of "Wonder Woman."
The local affiliate ducking out on network sports this time around is Channel 11, which is going with a movie Sunday (1:30 p.m.) instead of picking up Olympic and world champion Victor Petrenko's debut as a pro. Pssst, he loses to Scott Hamilton after Katarina Witt edges Debi Thomas. Find someone who gets Channel 9.
* It doesn't figure to create much impact in Barcelona this summer, but it figures to be an extremely competitive race for the three spots on the U.S. Olympic team at tomorrow's Trials Marathon in Columbus, Ohio. The favorites include Ed Eyestone, Ken Martin, Bill Reifsnyder and Steve Spence among a dozen runners with a good shot at finishing 1-2-3. NBC has a one-hour taped package of events scheduled for noon Sunday.
* It's obvious the quality of the games (and, yes, that of the magpie announcers) has virtually nothing to do with the television ratings when it comes to the Final Four. The Duke-Michigan final was a ragged game, the Duke-Indiana semi was dull and the Michigan-Cincinnati semi wasn't much better. Regardless, the games got a big watch, fans obviously hoping for another classic similar to the Duke-Kentucky regional thriller.