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The Inside Track

Hot Corner

March 04, 2003|Larry Stewart

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, heard, observed, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here. One exception: No products will be endorsed.

What: "Legendary Nights" (12-part series).

Where: HBO, Wednesday nights, 10.

When Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns met for the first time in 1981, it was one of the most memorable fights in boxing history, and also one of the most memorable on HBO in its 30 years of televising boxing.

HBO has chosen that fight to lead off a 12-week documentary series, "Legendary Nights," featuring the 12 most memorable fights on HBO.

The series, which HBO calls its most ambitious documentary project, consists of 12 half-hour shows that will be shown each week for the first time on Wednesday nights at 10.

Leonard-Hearns, a classic back-and-forth battle that Leonard won by TKO in the 14th round, was one fight that lived up to its billing. So does HBO's review of it. If this show is any indication, this is going to be a great series.

The format is pretty basic. In each show, the fighters are profiled, then come highlights of the fight, with retrospectives throughout.

Leonard calls his meeting with Hearns in '81 "the most important fight of my professional boxing career." He talks about how Muhammad Ali inspired him to get into boxing and about how he thought of Ali as he entered the ring that night to fight Hearns.

Hearns says, "I felt I let myself down as well as my fans. And that was a fight that I definitely had won. I had it in the bag and just let it slip away."

The fights will be shown in chronological order. Next up, with the debut showing on March 12, is Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney (1982), followed by Aaron Pryor-Alexis Arguello (1982) and Marvin Hagler-Hearns (1985). The series ends on May 21 with last year's meeting between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.

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