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Is 'Gump, Thump' Big Blow for Fight?

November 03, 1995|LARRY STEWART

Here's how crazy the infighting in boxing can get.

Promoter Don King took Mike Tyson-Buster Mathis Jr. to Fox and free television to stick it to TVKO, which had the Evander Holyfield-Riddick Bowe pay-per-view fight on the same night.

Then HBO, TVKO's sister company, answered by scheduling the debut of "Forrest Gump," the largest grossing movie ever, on pay cable opposite the Tyson fight, at least in the East.

Then the Tyson fight got canceled, and what's left is a premier TVKO event competing against an HBO movie premiere on Saturday night in the West and most of the country.

HBO and TVKO are both owned by Time Warner.

The TVKO show will begin at 6 p.m. with two live undercard fights and possibly a taped third one if the two others end early. The main event is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

"Forrest Gump" will begin at 8 p.m. Meanwhile, Fox will show reruns of "The X-Files."

In the East, viewers have the opportunity to watch "Forrest Gump" at 8 p.m. and still catch Bowe-Holyfield at 11:30.

Jim Lampley and George Foreman will appear on an HBO promo before and after the movie, encouraging viewers to buy the fight.

"It's Gump and thump," said Seth Abraham, the president of Time Warner Sports.


There was some thought by TVKO to start the Holyfield-Bowe fight earlier after the Tyson cancellation.

But Abraham said that because advertising had the card starting at 6 p.m. and the main event at 8:30, the decision was to leave it that way.


Abraham, sounding a little like King, said, "We think this will be the best fight telecast we've ever had, a perfect night of boxing. This will be a Don Larsen and a perfect game or at least a Sandy Koufax and a no-hitter."

Said executive producer Ross Greenburg: "We'll settle for a Tom Glavine in Game 6."

Said blow-by-blow announcer Lampley: "When I first heard of the Tyson cancellation, there was a pang of disappointment. I was looking forward to our telecast following theirs."

Rock Newman, who manages Bowe and is the main promoter of Saturday night's fight, said, "I thought when the other fight went from pay-per-view to Fox, it helped us. People could watch a tune-up on free TV, then a competitive fight on pay-per-view."


Among the losers in all this was Fox's James Brown. When the Tyson fight was still scheduled for pay-per-view, Brown was to be the host of the Holyfield-Bowe telecast. But when Fox picked up the Tyson fight, Brown had to switch fights, and TVKO hired CNN's Nick Charles to replace Brown.

"We have invited James to sit with Nick, sort of as the guest guest host, but I think he's just going to devote the weekend to his job on Fox's pregame football show," Greenburg said.


NBA season arrives: TNT opens its NBA coverage today at 5 with Charlotte at Chicago, with Bob Neal and Hubie Brown reporting. At 4 p.m. will be a one-hour preview, "Tip-Off '95."

Danny Ainge makes his regular-season TNT debut Tuesday when he and Neal work a Phoenix-New York game.

Both the Lakers and Clippers open at home tonight, with the Lakers on Prime Sports and the Clippers on Channel 13.

Prime is going all out with its pregame show at 7. Joining regular host Paul Sunderland and guest host Kurt Rambis will be Magic Johnson and Jerry Buss. Rambis is filling in for regular co-host Reggie Theus.

Laker flagship radio station KLAC announced that "One on One" with Coach Del Harris and former Channel 4 sportscaster Bret Lewis will be broadcast every Monday, 5-6 p.m. Also, Lewis will do a 10-minute show, "Game Time," before every game.

TV-Radio Notes

This week's merger of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) and Fox could mean that part of the major league baseball package will end up on Prime Sports. Prime is owned by Liberty Sports, a division of TCI. The latest is that Turner Broadcasting may be out, leaving Fox, its cable channel fX, Liberty, ESPN, NBC and possibly ABC still in the mix. A deal could be completed next week. . . . As expected, Channel 9 announced it is the Angels' new flagship station after the Angels severed their 35-year relationship with Channel 5. Channel 9 is owned by Disney, which is now the managing partner and a minority owner of the Angels, pending league approval.

ESPN opens its half of the NFL season with Miami at San Diego Sunday at 5 p.m. . . . Turner Broadcasting's Verne Lundquist, who still does figure skating for CBS as well, has an interesting week coming up. On Sunday he'll be in Uniondale, N.Y., to tape a skating special, "Ice Wars: the USA vs. the World," to be shown in prime time on CBS the next Friday. Then he goes to Kauai for the Grand Slam of Golf, which will be on TBS Tuesday and Wednesday at 3:05 p.m. Then he flies back to New York to do post-production work on the skating special. . . . Boomer Esiason, who will suit up for the Jets' home game against Miami on Sunday but is not expected to play, will be a guest on the college football segment of "CBS Sports Show" Saturday at 1 p.m. Esiason is expected to work one of CBS' bowl games.

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