Bowe returns fight, not Louis era, to D.C.

Phil Jackman

March 25, 1993|By Phil Jackman

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It was in May of 1941 that Joe Louis brought a heavyweight championship fight to Washington. It was part of his "Punch Parade" leading up to the famed battle with Billy Conn the very next month.

The "Brown Bomber" fought in five different cities during the first five months of the year, explaining, "I think it's part of my job as champion to try to help America and my own people."

At Joe's insistence, they almost gave tickets away in Philadelphia, charging just $5 for ringside and $1 for general admission.

The heavyweight division wasn't loaded with strong contenders at the time, but Joe's opponent at old Griffith Stadium, Buddy Baer, proved he could hold his own, knocking the champ to the ring apron in the first minute of the fight.

In hearing the announcement that a heavyweight title match would return to Washington for the first time in 52 years May 22 at RFK Stadium, one could only gasp at the differences wrought by time.

Champion Riddick Bowe, who will "risk" his title against 36-year-old Jesse Ferguson (19-9), showed up carrying a sign saying, "Read My Fists: No New Champion!" Just like ol' Joe, right?

While Louis often fought for peanuts or turned his purse over to the Army Relief Fund in those days, Bowe's second title defense against a fighter rated just inside the 12-mile reef is once again to satisfy a multimillion-dollar deal he has with Home Box Office.

Somehow it doesn't seem quite right, particularly when, during the news conference, Bowe's manager Rock Newman went into this spiel about not wanting the flunkies of congressmen and senators coming around for free tickets if they didn't favor statehood for the District.

* Who can blame coach Don Haskins for complaining when his UTEP basketball team is scheduled into Georgetown's 2,200-seat McDonough Gymnasium the other night as part of the NIT tournament?

If the Hoyas couldn't get the Cap Centre (due to a hockey game), or couldn't make arrangements to use Cole Field House or some other suitable hall, the game should have switched to El Paso. As Haskins said: "They want to make sure Georgetown makes it to New York [for the tourney semifinals Monday]."

* Every year it's the same thing: The Washington Capitals need a big scorer -- allegedly. And the team insists it tries to pick one up in trade while peddling the likes of accomplished lamplighters like Mike Gartner, Dino Ciccarelli and Denis Maruk.

The fact is, only six of 24 teams in the NHL have scored more goals than the Caps -- just one in the Patrick Division: Pittsburgh -- and only eight teams have allowed fewer goals.

What the Caps really needed to get straightened out prior to the Monday trade deadline was their goaltending situation, which they did by unloading Jim Hrivnak for Rick Tabaracci of Winnipeg.

* Marylander Dickey Simpkins, after making the Big East all-tournament team, has had a great NIT tournament for Providence, last night leading the Friars into the semifinals with a 23-point, 10-rebound performance against Boston College. P.C. has now won 20 games and probably should have been included in the NCAA field.

* A couple of the reasons they're giving for NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue deserving an extended or new contract is the crackdown on steroid use and the globalization of pro football under his stewardship. Maybe "they" haven't noticed the World League of American Football is no more and there's no evidence steroid use is down.

* USA Today conducted an interesting survey among 162 NCAA Division I basketball teams that uncovered Baltimore wasn't even in the top 10 among cities in providing talent.

* Lou Campanelli, the coach who was fired by California for his "attacks" on his players, according to the school, says he couldn't watch his former team knock off Duke last weekend.

"Nobody feels the pain, the hurt, the agony I'm feeling," said Lou, perhaps failing to account for what affect his well-honed vituperation had on some of his young men.

* Whipping along in spring training playing .500 ball, the expansion Colorado Rockies are of the opinion they're going to be extremely competitive and might even win a ton of games. Their goal is 90 (gasp!). Holding their losses to 90 would be one hellacious feat.

"We're going to be an aggressive team. We're going to keep things moving," says manager Don Baylor, who, this very moment, is probably teaching his discards how to steal first base.

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