No one can sell a fight or a fight card as well as the long-time medical practitioner Ferdie Pacheco can. That is, besides Muhammad Ali and, if the opponent was right, Sugar Ray Leonard.
But even the "Fight Doctor" says no high-pressure salesmanship is required regarding tomorrow night's pay-per-view tripleheader starring Lennox Lewis, Julio Cesar Chavez and Julian Jackson.
"Absolutely sensational," is Pacheco's reserved assessment. "Lewis is the goods. Only question is, can he become great? As for [opponent] Tony Tucker, here's a guy who has lost only one fight in the last dozen years and that was a 12-round decision to Mike Tyson. Best part is he appears to have defrosted his heart, which was always questionable, amd he's really going after it this time.
"What's there to say about Chavez that hasn't been said already? He's the best, pure and simple, and he always fights to his max. Not too many guys have a chance of beating him, but at least Terrence Alli can stay with him off his experience and ability."
Alli (52-7) has lost just once in the past five years while Chavez enters 86-0.
"Truthfully, the fight I can't wait for is Jackson vs. Gerald McClellan," the Showtime analyst continued. "Both these guys come strictly to throw bombs and just eight of their combined 76 fights haven't ended with someone asleep.
OK, Doc, where do we sign up?
* The Orioles get big-time treatment tomorrow, CBS moving in for their game against the Blue Jays at the Toronto Skydome at 1 p.m. Unfortunately, Mike Mussina is halfway between starts.
On second thought, perhaps big time is not a proper phrase here. CBS is still having a tough time scraping up viewers, last week's audience numbering just 2.7 million.
Meanwhile, even with Baltimore (Channel 13) missing, an NHL playoff game on ABC beat out baseball, the Pro Bowlers Tour and a Saturday afternoon NBA playoff game on NBC with 3.5 million households tuned.
The fourth of five hockey telecasts on network goes Sunday with the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs squaring off at 1 p.m. The teams went overtime in the first two games of the series. Yes, Channel 13 will be aboard.
* Instead of looking around for reasons why only 7.5 million home sets were tuned into the Kentucky Derby last weekend, like ABC's excuse that "the press didn't label this a great year for 3-year-olds," why doesn't racing find out once and for all why it has always had a limited audience? The rating, incidentally, was the lowest for the race yet. Hmmm, maybe if they put rock stars or movie starlets in the irons. . . .
An interesting race was made even moreso with winner Sea Hero on the isolated camera coverage list. All the voices and cameramen came through as usual, save for the latest addition to the team, jockey Steve Cauthen. Maybe they could inject him with something by the time he shows here for the Preakness. Either that or script him.
* Showtime sends along a championship kick boxing match tonight,Jean Yves Theriault taking on Leo de Shoo for the world super-middleweight title. It's in tough, opposing an NBA doubleheader on TNT and a baseball twin bill on ESPN in addition to five other games on cable. With tennis from the German Open on ESPN this afternoon, the weekday takes on the appearance of a loaded weekend day in the past.
* Always insightful Gary Bender had this to say during a Lakers-Suns game on TNT the other night when Byron Scott missed an open 16-footer: "They're the toughest ones to hit aren't they, the wide-open shots?" No, Gary, you're not even close.
* The "NBA Inside Stuff" show tomorrow was going to profile Reggie Lewis as the emerging star taking over in Boston to continue Celtics success, but that idea was wiped out when Reggie was found to have a heart problem that might end his career.
* Calm down, basketball nut, Channel 2 joins the NBA playoffs on NBC Sunday at 4 p.m. (four hours late) after the Orioles get done beating on Toronto.
* To answer a question pondered by ESPN's legion of baseball experts the other night, yes a team should be able to handle the playing needs of four fine players (Atlanta's David Justice, Ron Gant, Deion Sanders and Otis Nixon). Recall the time Baltimore had an outfield of Frank Robinson, Paul Blair and Don Buford, yet Merv Rettenmund, coming off the pine, went to the plate 350 times and batted .322.
* All things considered, you have to wonder why it took until now for the game's most famous broadcaster, Don Dunphy, to be named into the non-participants wing of boxing's Hall of Fame.
* Fairfax County (Va.) Cable is under siege by New York Mets fans again, enraged by the fact they can't see their team over WWOR because the service was dropped. This time, they went to county officials to protest. The way it works out, WWOR costs Fairfax $1.5 million a year to carry and, among more than 200,000 subscribers, Met viewers were estimated to amount to about 1 percent.