Reports out of New York indicate that despite this high-profile shot to a spectacularly troubled ring career, not to mention the money ($750,000), Michael Dokes doesn't appear to have done anything extra to prepare for his heavyweight title shot against Riddick Bowe on HBO tomorrow (9:30 p.m.).
Of course, if the man who once lived up to the nickname "Dynamite" bothered to get rid of the spare tire, sharpened his skills and refrained from swilling beer and eating popcorn at a Knicks game (Tuesday), he wouldn't have been selected to be sacrificial lamb No. 1.
No sooner will Riddick step over the prone form of Dokes to the huzzahs of announcers Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and George Foreman, when it will be made official that Bowe's next cable fight will be May 21 against Ray Mercer. Merciless Ray is also on the card, taking on Jesse Ferguson of the Puggville Fergusons.
* Artie Donovan tells the story of how he used to keep the pizza warm in his hotel room while on a road trip with the Baltimore Colts -- atop the constantly blaring TV set. Judging from the ratings run up by the Super Bowl last Sunday, pizza and a lot more were being kept warm in this manner.
So, OK, concede that 125 million at least glanced at the pictures of Dallas manhandling Buffalo. At least there was something to see (if you're into sado-masochism). But what else could explain the pre-game show, which doesn't even qualify for the description "fluff," drawing an audience of 35 million?
Just as amazing is, after maybe six hours of viewing, millions also stuck around for the post-game show featuring a trophy being handed to a guy and several sweaty athletes attesting to the fact that football is indeed a team game.
Time was, when television first came into vogue, we used to sit around and watch the test pattern for a couple of hours. It was embarrassing. Not anymore.
* ESPN gets NHL All-Star Weekend under way tonight by showing the Heroes of Hockey game at 7:30. Believe it or not, the old guys will probably mix it up better than the present-day guys will tomorrow (NBC, 3 p.m.) during the Wales vs. Campbell matchup. Last year, in Philadelphia, there were no penalties, although a couple of guys did exchange dirty looks at the airport while heading out of town.
* Maryland, looking to cement its hold on last place in the ACC, engages Georgia Tech on Channel 45 tomorrow (4 p.m.). Tech's the one that competes with one hand (Bobby Cremins) tied behind his back. . . . The worst game tomorrow (NBC, 1 p.m.) has Duke visiting Notre Dame. The Blue Devils won by 33 last year and the Irish are nowhere near as good as they were then.
* The NHL, its new commissioner Gary Bettman working around the clock to improve its television exposure, has been dealt the ultimate indignity by the Peacock: Its All-Star Game goes on after basketball, which means an overtime or two could wipe out the first period.
* Misery obviously loves company. Before the always-compelling Pro Bowl Sunday (8 p.m.), ESPN is going to run something called Pro Bowl Beach Challenge, your helmeted heroes competing in a volleyball game, an outrigger canoe race, an obstacle course event and the classic tug-of-war. Who says there's not enough good programming on the telly?
Incidentally, news that the tug-of-war will be the climactic event in the competition reminds us of what Dave Osborne, running back of perennial Super Bowl-losing Minnesota, said after the Vikes beat Oakland back in the days of Superstars. "This event will be remembered long after the Super Bowl is forgotten." You're right, Dave, I remember.
* USA Network's "Tuesday Night Fights" is in hiatus next week so the cable can hustle over and do the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. Why not combine the two, having the winner of the toughest mutt in show category taking on Michael "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" Buffer?
* One of the features of golf on TV, right up there with the Masters, Ryder Cup and the Skins Game, shows up on CBS tomorrow (4-6 p.m.) and Sunday (3-6 p.m.) after being on USA today (4-6 p.m.): Actor Jack Lemmon attempting to get up and down from a trap for an 11 at the National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach.
* Because it has a full inventory early next year (the Winter Olympics in Norway), it is being speculated that CBS will not bid for Super Bowl XXVIII, which has not been assigned to a network by the NFL. What if none of the networks bid or the league wasn't satisfied with what was being offered? Pay-per-view, bay-bee. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who doesn't even make a noise when he sneezes, has said PPV is "down the road," but not whether it is in the next block or 62 time zones away.
* Did you notice the All-Madden team contained a hundred guys from the NFC, the conference John's boss CBS covers, and about a half-dozen guys from Houston (AFC). John's bus must have made a pit stop in that city.