HBO, Showtime square off in ring

March 04, 1994|By Phil Jackman

|TC The TV Repairman:

The Hatfields and the McCoys of the television boxing industry come to grips this weekend, and, if nothing else, they present an interesting contrast in the way they conduct business.

No, HBO and Showtime aren't going head-to-head with their shows. Hey, there's enough here for everybody. What Showtime boasts in numbers, five so-called championship bouts spread over a live show tonight (10) and a taped session tomorrow (3 p.m.), HBO has in the fact it is presenting a show as originally advertised tomorrow (10 p.m.).

Locally, the interest will be with Don King's "Global Warfare" card in Las Vegas because Baltimore's Vincent Pettway finally gets his shot at the International Boxing Federation junior middleweight title held by Gianfranco Rosi of Italy. Knock on wood.

As is too often the case when the "Only in America" man King is involved as promoter, the Showtime card underwent drastic revision just three days before presentation. Either King has the worst luck imaginable, or what scores of fighters have been screaming for years, the man is a bait-and-switch artist, is true. The Pettway-Rosi bout is listed for inclusion on the three-hour Saturday afternoon show.

While trying to figure out what's going on is common practice when King's operating, HBO is boringly predictable in stripping away the glitter and double talk and coming through with the goods.

Its lead bout is IBF super middleweight champ James Toney defending against Tim Littles, and what bodes well here is that the challenger is unbeaten and the legitimate No. 1 contender.

"That's why we at HBO don't have contracts with fighters; it assures the guys who deserve the title shots get them," said executive producer Ross Greenburg, casting no aspersions Showtime's way. "And it allows our announcers to go right down the middle with their commentary."

A balanced presentation is something we haven't been able to accuse Showtime announcers of conveying lately. Analyst Ferdie Pacheco, for instance, hasn't to this day fully accepted that Julio Cesar Chavez not only lost to Frankie Randall but Pernell Whitaker as well. The other bout on the HBO card pits Oscar De La Hoya against Jimmi Bredahl. As opposed to King, who bestows immortality on all of his fighters instantly, Greenburg says, "We've heard Jimmi's good, but we are dealing with an unknown here."

* Tomorrow is an absolutely wondrous day as far as the perspiring arts and the telly are concerned, the lineup including three golf tournaments, tennis, the aforementioned fights, track, figure skating, skiing, gymnastics, a biggie in college hoops, North Carolina vs. Duke, horse racing, even baseball. Everything but football, although you can bet extensive coverage of spring practice isn't far off.

The Yankees and Mets will do the rounders bit on WOR at 1 p.m. with the Cubs and Angels scheduled out of Arizona at 3 on WGN.

All told, there is about 67 hours of activity on the networks, cable and syndication tomorrow with just as much Sunday as college basketball conferences hold their annual fund-raisers (tournaments). . . . And you thought the Olympics were a bit much after awhile.

* It should be fun getting to listen to the "Voice of the Orioles," Jon Miller, making more than intermittent appearances on WBAL radio this season. The last couple years, what with his work on local and national TV, Jon was broadcasting fewer than half the Birds games, which left the likes of Ken Levine as the mainstay. Imagine. The full time voice of the O's on Channels 13, 54, 20 and 50 and HTS will be Mel Proctor.

* Heidi Revisited: If you've ever been trapped in front of the tube while a "Coach's Corner" show was on, you'll realize the mass trauma resulting in this item:

Last weekend, as Canada and Sweden moved into overtime and a couple of shootouts to determine the Olympic gold medal, a station in Kentucky did a quick switch to the "Rick Pitino Show," a must-see in the Bluegrass State, but still . . .

The coach's reaction to the blunder was, "There's very little else outside of Kentucky basketball for Kentuckians." Obviously.

* It seems as if a week hasn't gone by in the past few years when word wasn't forthcoming from NBC and the NBA about what dynamite ratings they were getting with pro hoops. On the wings of a sub-par All-Star Game audience, no doubt caused by the fact it was going against the Olympics on CBS, only the Fox show "Code 3" prevented the second game of a twin-bill last Sunday from being the lowest-rated prime-time program of the week.

* What's preventing Jerry Solomon of Pro Serv, agent for Nancy Kerrigan, from having the mouth of the Olympic silver medal winner wired shut? No doubt her appearance as host of the "Saturday Night Live" show March 12.

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