The TV Repairman:
Sometime after 10 p.m. tomorrow night on HBO, boxing is going to inherit its fourth heavyweight champion. Which is not to say that the World Boxing Organization hasn't had its version of a champ for awhile, but the group wasn't even well-known in the building where it resides.
What gives the WBO credibility is that Riddick Bowe now is seeking its title, and he is expected to brush aside the current holder, Herbie Hide, to get it. Bowe's manager, Rock Newman, says unequivocally, "Riddick will do more for this organization than Larry Holmes ever did for the International Boxing Federation."
Recall, the IBF eventually gained equal billing with World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association after Holmes fled them and crunched Bonecrusher Smith to put a third title belt in play in 1984.
Newman knows better than anyone that another fully-recognized splinter group is the last thing boxing needs, but he says, "I don't expect there will ever be a wholesale dismantling of the scandalous organizations that control boxing, as is needed.
"The people that run these outfits are scandalously corrupt, unethical, thieving, anything you want to call them. The ratings they put out, which often control who gets to fight for their titles, are for hire. The men who run the show have said to me, 'Work a deal with Don King. He can protect your interest.' "
Not as long as Newman and Bowe have it in their minds to remain above it all and independent. What helps is that, in a poll conducted among boxing media worldwide, Bowe was called the best of the heavyweights by 76 percent of the respondents.
"They [WBC, WBA and IBF] have been punishing Bowe by not ranking him," says Newman. "What's great about the situation is now the WBA is going to have Bruce Seldon fighting for its vacated title and Riddick knocked him out in the first round. I love it. Oh, Hide, yes. We're concerned about him. He has quick hands, quick feet and some power with 25 knockouts in 26 fights, all wins. He's awkward and hard to hit sometimes."
* Repeat after me, the name of the tournament is "The Dance." Meaning, of course, that "The Show" refers to late Sunday afternoon (6 o'clock) when CBS and ESPN will go head-to-head with their NCAA selection programs. It will be fierce.
"Because CBS spends a hundred billion or something," says Dick Vitale, "it gets to run the pairings board first." But no more than a sneeze later, ESPN will have the graphics then the filibuster starts.
On the cable, it will be host John Saunders trying to maintain some sort of order as Vitale and Digger Phelps rhapsodize. Elsewhere, it will be Jim Nantz serving as traffic cop for Billy Packer, Quinn Buckner and George Raveling. Tape both and run 'em at slow speed later if you really want to catch it all.
In the event you're out laying in provisions for Day 1 Thursday, noon and 7:30 p.m. doubleheaders from Baltimore, Memphis, Dayton and Salt Lake City, CNN has a selection show rendition from 7-8 p.m., host Paul Crane talking to coaches Jim Harrick (UCLA), Nolan Richardson (Arkansas) and John Calipari (Massachusetts) and "Basketball Times" editor Larry Donald.
ESPN is doing the NCAA women's tourney selection show Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Chances are very good after all this, you'll be "listened out" and ready for some action.
* NBC should garner boffo audiences with three prime time shots of the World Figure Skating Championships from England beginning tonight (8) even if a lot of the six hours is on tape. No problem, just don't go out of your way to find out what's happening over there.
The showcase at these events is nearly always the women and they'll be on live, including the long program final tomorrow (8 p.m.). Sunday (7 p.m.) features the pairs and the American entry does all right.
* To be sure, there were times that Todd Christensen was a tad unctuous while pontificating NFL games on NBC, but for the Peacock to cut him lose is a bum decision. He was easily among the top three commentators making good points, which probably hurt him. The nets want vanilla.
* Among the many things that makes sportscaster Vin Scully great is this line uttered during TBS coverage of Senior Slam golf from Mexico earlier this week: "[Competitor] Simon Hobday spent 21 years in the South African Army and never earned a stripe."
* The Pan American Games get under way in Argentina tomorrow and the only folks apt to get a peek at the 37 countries competing in 38 sports over the next two weeks are SportsSouth Network suscribers. Turner Sports is involved in the TV production, but neither TNT or TBS is scheduled to send along any of the action involving 800 American athletes. Strange.
Meanwhile, NBC did yeoman work with its five-part indoor track series, but none of the nets are listed for any coverage of the
World Indoor Championships in Barcelona this weekend. Double strange.
* You gotta love the folks over at Fox Network. As preparations go on for its debut April 2 doing NHL games, sports president David Hill, a Brit, says, "With hockey, we have to do missionary work. We have a blank canvas," as though the game's being introduced to us primitives and every team in the league hasn't had a cable deal for years.