Cheerio, British lads, for giving us good fight at reasonable hour

Phil Jackman

October 01, 1993|By Phil Jackman

The TV Repairman:

No, that will not be some sort of extraterrestrial glitch flashing up on your HBO screen at about 7:30 this evening. Because they love you and money (not necessarily in that order), WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and fellow Brit and challenger Frank Bruno will climb into a ring hard by Cardiff Castle in Wales to do battle at 1 a.m. (local time).

Since the networks deep-sixed boxing, how long has it been since fight fans have been able to enjoy a fight at a reasonable hour? And this bout, between a couple of dedicated heavies, has enjoyment written all over it.

Or maybe this is an inflated reaction, considering all fans have had to look at in the division lately is Larry Holmes turning slowly in mid-ring and bouncing jabs off a designated punching bag.

Lewis enters 23-0 with 19 knockouts and gives Bruno his due by pointing out, "He's very strong and always in shape . . . but when it comes to the big ones he can't turn it over."

The reference here is to Bruno, 36-3 with 35 KOs, losing in two previous title shots to Mike Tyson and Tim Witherspoon. The fighters are expected in the ring by 8 p.m. and the champ predicts, "They [the Queen's subjects] will be talking about this event forever." And rightly so. It's the first time this century two British heavyweights have entered the ring with the (one-third) title at stake.

The show has a rain date, tomorrow at 6 p.m. on HBO, because it's the rainy season in Wales, which extends from late January to early December usually.

Showtime has a card, too, sending along a welterweight doubleheader pitting IBF champ Felix Trinidad vs. Anthony Stephens and Oba Carr vs. Pedro Sanchez tomorrow at 10 p.m. The trio of Steve Albert, Ferdie Pacheco and Bobby Czyz have regained use of their over-extended vocal chords from the Chavez-Whitaker bout and promise words a-plenty.

* Speaking of this evening, ESPN2 has its launch amid great fanfare (its own) at 7:30, promising its effort will be a forerunner of television of the future. Which may make it easier for the vegetating multitudes who spend too much time in front of the tube to cut down.

Mostly, it seems, it will be sports talk with the customary pictures as the very talented Keith Olbermann hosts "SportsNight" during prime time each evening. Eventually, he will be helped out by 75 hockey games, some college hoops and a half-dozen expert commentators on the major sports, not to mention his co-host Suzy Kolber.

A lot of the other stuff, described as 2,500 hours of original sports programming, sounds suspiciously like duplication of ESPN, ESPN radio and the usual news, information, features and interview stuff found any number of other places. But hardly in such abundance. "The Deuce," as it's called, will have 4 1/2 hours of fitness programming each day.

It won't be "the usual" with Olbermann, of course, but what figures to turn many people off is the admission that ESPN2 will be youth-oriented: things like running box scores at 3 o'clock in ,, the morning to raucous music, oh boy. ESPN has proved many times it knows what it's doing and, already, president Steve Bortstein says, "We have plans for ESPN3 right now."

* College football tomorrow has Florida State-Georgia Tech and Notre Dame-Stanford as the noon and 3:30 games on ABC and Iowa-Michigan hammering away at each other on ESPN at 12:30 p.m. Not bad.

* Chances are vast throngs of people missed the best part of "Monday Night Football" the other evening when Pittsburgh was manhandling Atlanta, 45-17. The final score comes nowhere near detailing the vast superiority of the Steelers. The boys, Al Michaels, Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf, were just chewing the fat when Big Dan was asked to relate his experience with the Falcons' kooky coach Jerry Glanville.

"Jerry has a room in a motel right next to the team's practice facility, and he keeps his Harley-Davidson motorcycle right there in the room," Dan started. "Know how motels have been known to have thin walls and you can hear the TV next door or the toilet flushing upstairs? Imagine a guy revving up his Harley in the middle of the night?"

Which just so happens to be what Glanville did for Dierdorf as they sat in the room discussing football, the coach suggesting Dan take it for a spin. No wonder Jerry wears sunglasses all the time. His eyes have to be bloodshot as a result of all that blue smoke resulting from his running his machine.

Hey, it beat that dynamite offense Glanville and his offensive coordinator June Jones have put together in Atlanta.

* A burning question at this juncture is, which local station is jTC going to go live and into the operating room for the likely repairs done on Gregg Olson's arm this off-season?

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