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ALLAN MALAMUD

Notes on a Scorecard

November 16, 1994|ALLAN MALAMUD

I don't know how the James Toney-Roy Jones Jr. match is going to end Friday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. . . .

I keep changing my mind about the winner. . . .

Will it be Toney, a warrior who has proven himself in tough fights, or Jones, a relatively untested power puncher with lightning hands? . . .

But I am certain how the excitement will start. . . .

Ring announcer Michael Buffer is going to bellow, "Let's get ready to rumble!" . . .

"Let's get ready to rumble!" is to boxing what "Gentlemen, start your engines!" is to automobile racing. . . .

Buffer was watching a card on TV in 1982 when he was appalled by how little enthusiasm the guy in the tuxedo put into the announcement of the split-decision winner after a sensational fight. . . .

"My oldest son, Michael Patrick, said I should try out," said Buffer, who was a model and an actor in commercials. . . .

Buffer's persistence in cutting tapes and sending letters to promoters paid off. He got his start in Atlantic City, N.J., and he has been one of the most recognizable faces in boxing since. . . .

He even got a call from Cary Grant one day. Grant had seen Buffer on the tube, said he loved his bow tie, and asked where he could buy one. . . .

"Let's get ready to rumble!" is not only Buffer's signature, it's his registered trademark. . . .

"I wanted a hook to get people in the mood after putting them to sleep with the introductions of the referee, judges, other officials and candlestick makers," he said. "Rumble worked the best, but I've also used, 'Fasten your seat belts!' and 'Man your battle stations!' ". . . .

Buffer, who grew up in Philadelphia and lives in L.A., turned 50 on Nov. 2. . . .

Three nights later, he got a birthday gift when he made the surprise announcement of his career. . . .

"Ladies and gentlemen, the impossible dream has happened. Heavyweight history has happened. Referee Joe Cortez reaches the count of 10 at 2:03 of round number 10. The winner--and, once again, heavyweight champion--big George Foreman!" . . .

*

Coaches' cradle: Jeff Fisher of the Houston Oilers has become the fifth NFL head coach with a USC background. . . .

Fisher was a cornerback for the Trojans. Mike Holmgren of Green Bay was a quarterback. Wayne Fontes of Detroit, Dave Wannstedt of Chicago and Norv Turner of Washington were assistant coaches. . . .

On the week of the USC-UCLA game, Fisher is being remembered in Westwood for deflecting a pass into the hands of Freeman McNeil for the touchdown that gave the Bruins a 20-17 victory over the Trojans in 1980. . . .

"It's great that Jeff is getting the opportunity," said John Robinson, who coached him at USC. "To get ahead in the NFL as a player, he had to use his mental edge. Then he was fortunate to become a protege of Buddy Ryan. He has some Mike Ditka in him. He's fiery." . . .

Jim Everett has a chance for a hat trick against Los Angeles teams this year. The Saints, who already have beaten the Rams in New Orleans, play the Raiders on Sunday at the Coliseum and the Rams again Dec. 4 at Anaheim Stadium. . . .

Maybe Rod Woodson belongs on that 75th anniversary NFL team, after all. . . .

*

No NCAA Division I-A team with a schedule ranked among the 10 toughest in the nation ever has finished unbeaten, and that won't change this year. . . .

ESPN2 will showcase Steve (Air) McNair for the third time Saturday when Alcorn State plays Jackson State at 1 p.m. . . .

Arkansas, the defending NCAA basketball champion, will try to win the cross-country title for the fifth consecutive year Monday at Prairie Grove, Ark. . . .

Wayne Lukas is going to run Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Tabasco Cat in the $400,000 Hollywood Derby Sunday because he believes the future of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner is on the turf. . . .

Is it too early to get excited about a possible Kentucky Derby showdown between Lukas' Timber Country and Richard Mandella's Afternoon Deelites? . . .

Half the teams ranked in the top six in the Associated Press preseason college basketball poll--No. 3 Massachusetts, No. 4 Kentucky and No. 6 UCLA--will participate in the first John R. Wooden Classic Dec. 3 at The Pond of Anaheim. Kansas, which will play Massachusetts, is ranked 11th. . . .

John Robinson on Oregon: "It wasn't as though they choked against Stanford--not that many teams have this year."

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