At long last, let's get ready to rumble, as heavyweight division wakes back up


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It continues to be feast or famine down at the old cauliflower patch sometimes known as the fight game. After what seems like months of inactivity save for an occasional Larry Holmes stroll in the park, matches will be cropping up all over the place in the next few weeks.

Unbeaten Riddick Bowe (26-0) ends a month of speculation, lacing 'em up against Elijah Tillery atop a Washington Convention Center show Oct. 29. Also on the card being announced today are Andrew Maynard and Sharmba Mitchell, both just one fight away from title shots. Tillery (23-4) was a promising banger at one time who had managerial problems (what else?) and at age 30 might still have something left.

It's necessary for Bowe to get back working at this time because coming up Oct. 18 in Atlantic City is the previously postponed bout between Ray Mercer and Tommy Morrison. Bowe and the victor there figure to be a good-sized payday as all the aspiring young heavies wait anxiously for the post-Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield fallout.

Mercer, on the horn yesterday touting his TVKO pay-per-view meeting with Morrison, is figuring Bowe is in his immediate future (if he wins) because the most appealing opponent outside a title shot is George Foreman, who has a date. It will be announced shortly that Big George will go against Jimmy Ellis on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7. No, it's not the Jimmy Ellis who had a piece of the heavyweight title in the '60s.

Mercer is confident, pointing out, "I've got Bert Cooper as a sparring partner and he has a style just like Morrison's, only Bert does it better."

Before that bout tops a run of nightly shows in Atlantic City two weeks hence, Resorts Casino Hotel has an interesting scrap for the vacant IBF welterweight crown Friday night between Washington's Maurice Blocker (32-2) and Glenwood Brown (34-1). This is the title Simon Brown turned in to seek fame and fortune up with the junior middleweights.

Meanwhile, at LaFontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie tonight, Eddie Van Kirk's wounds and ego from his thumping at the hands of Vincent Pettway a while back are sufficiently healed so that he's back taking on Anthony Ross at the top of an 8 p.m. Punch & Foody show.

Next Wednesday, at the Pikesville Armory, Pettway (31-4) returns to harness taking on Juan Rondon (22-10).

* The call came over the weekend. It was a surprise to The Evening Sun's Sandy McKee, who reports on the Blast, the Bullets and auto racing, among other things. Many years ago, as a collegian at American University, she and a friend strolled over to the Washington Redskins offices and entered her name on the waiting list for season tickets.

Suddenly, miraculously, McKee's patience has been rewarded. After just 21 years, she and the friend are proud possessors of Skins' tickets. Ironically, it was during "Monday Night Football" the other night, ABC had a halftime feature about how precious season tickets are in D.C., the team's games being sold out since 1966.

The tickets are in the end zone bleachers and the check has to be in the mail instantaneously, a ticket office employee assuring Sandy, "Be assured we will not call you again in your lifetime." The check is in the mail.

* Conversation with U.S. Ryder Cup team captain Dave Stockton (three months ago): "The only time I didn't fully enjoy the Ryder was when I was playing . . . I'll bet they [organizers] go to a major media market next time [1995] . . . I regret I have two [wild-card] picks sometimes . . . A good captain can have a small effect; a bad captain can be a disaster . . . Golf is mental, not physical."

Almost to the word, everything Stockton talked about that day at the Kemper Open proved on the money. The players looked as if they had undergone extensive interrogation and torture after every hole. The Kiawah Island course photographed well, but it might have been the worst spectator layout in the history of the game, and the TV ratings lagged. Stockton's wild-card picks of Ray Floyd and Chip Beck were excellent. The captain's pairings were close to flawless, a necessity considering the final score: U.S. 14 1/2 , Europe 13 1/2 .

* Still on the golf beat, lost in the shuffle over the weekend was Pat Bradley winning her 30th tournament, thus qualifying for the LPGA Hall of Fame. The subject of the Hall came up in June when Pat was here for the LGPA Championship in Bethesda and she bristled at the arbitrary number of victories needed for induction. "I've won six 'majors' over the years and it's amazing that they only count as one win," she said. "Our Hall of Fame is already the most exclusive Hall in sports by far and it's not likely to change unless some of the rules for entry are changed."

* The NFL has a meeting scheduled in a couple of weeks to decide if the World League of American Football will be back next spring or will suspend operations for a season while restructuring takes place. Bet that the WLAF will be back without interruption because of the fledgling Professional Spring Football League commencing next March. The PSFL has a first-class leader, Rex Lardner, who has had a solid career in just about all facets of sports and television.

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