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There's full deck of fights coming


News from the Cauliflower Patch:

Any boxer who's not plying his trade these days either had his phone disconnected, is under suspension for getting knocked out in his last fight, is in the midst of "managerial problems" or can't get a passing score on a physical examination.

Within hours of each other this week, people as tiny as Michael Carbajal, who looks like something that might have fallen out of a heavyweight's pocket, to the wise-cracking land mass Riddick Bowe were discussing why their upcoming bouts are must-see events.

Then there was the legion of light heavyweights touting the "Battle of the Badlands" show in North Dakota, Tommy Morrison insisting once again that he's finally focused and may never lose another fight, Don King going on and on and on about something and Meldrick Taylor saying he has laid awake nights for four years thinking about his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez being stopped with two seconds remaining and him with the decision in his pocket.

The fight cards scheduled for here, there and everywhere in the immediate future beginning tonight remind of the glut of soccer games that tumbled onto our TV sets the last couple of weeks.

ESPN's Top Rank show tonight (9 p.m.) has Alex Zolkin (17-2) taking on Carl "The Truth" Williams (26-7), whom you assumed had retired. Sunday, on CBS' "Eye on Sports" (4:30 p.m.), Zack Padilla (17-2) takes on Juan LaPorte (40-14) for the World Boxing Organization 140-pound title.

Between, on Showtime tomorrow (10 p.m.), but blacked out in Bismarck, N. D., seemingly every man who weighs in the vicinity of 175 pounds is taking part in a light heavyweight's convention.

Virgil Hill (38-1) will have his World Boxing Association crown on the line against Frank Tate (34-3), insisting the Civic Center in his hometown "will be packed" despite the fact only 2,000 tickets had been scooped up by Tuesday of this week.

"About 80 percent of the business is walk-up in this town," Hill said. "Fans get interested once the fighters show up at the site."

The WBC 175-pound title will be on the line when Jeff Harding (23-1) defends against Mike McCallum (46-2). A series of injuries have had Harding on the shelf since late 1992, but he says, "I'm not rusty and I've been a fan of McCallum's for years. He'll put me on the map when I go against him."

Mike didn't mind being reminded of his age, which is classified information.

Other light heavies on the card are Merqui Sosa (22-4) taking on Leeonzer Barber (19-1) and Egerton Marcus (12-0) testing a lad known by the initials TBA. This being a Don King card, thus the "Battle of the Badlands" handle, it doesn't end there. King has cruiserweights Alfred Cole (24-2) and Nate Miller (23-3) squaring off.

"This is the kind of a show you get in the big casinos," said King before he left to wrest Carbajal from the clutches of promotional rival Bob Arum, then headed for New York where he was being arraigned on a nine-count federal indictment today. "I believe in the system of justice in this country," he said. "I look forward to vindication."

Bowe, his ever-present spokesman Rock Newman and HBO are pitching a premium cable show Aug. 13 in Atlantic City, which will see Riddick (his cranky back willing) taking on a man, Buster Mathis Jr., whose name slipped his mind a couple of times during the gabfest.

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