HBO's 'Tyson' pulls no punches

The TV Repairman:

The HBO production of "Tyson" plays the premium cable tomorrow at 8 p.m. and it's a sterling effort by all concerned unless, of course, you prefer sugar-coating. Don King and Robin Givens come across exactly as they were during Iron Mike's rise to the heavyweight title and Jai White does a solid job while portraying the monstrous anger welling up in the title character.


A lot of people, including Tyson's initial mentor, Cus D'Amato (George C. Scott), took shortcuts during Tyson's development from a street thug to a millionaire thug, and ex-fighter Jose Torres, on whose book "Fire and Fear" the movie is based, probably said it best when he said, "Cus made Mike into a great fighter; he died before he could develop him as a person."

* A phone poll, conducted during "Tuesday Night Fights" on USA concerning the decision in the George Foreman-Axel Schulz bout last weekend, revealed that 86 percent of more than an unbelievable 10,000 respondents said the German challenger should have gotten the nod, not Foreman. And the "Las Vegas Decision" rears its ugly head again.


The main event that night was interesting, coming superstar and World Boxing Council lightweight champion Miquel Gonzalez running his record to 36-0 with a unanimous decision over Ricardo Silva. The scores of the officials, 119-109, 118-110, 118-110, make it sound like a breeze but nearly every round was competitive.

* Reminder: Tomorrow night's huge boxing show at USAir Arena (beginning at 5:30 p.m.), topped by the Vincent Pettway-Simon Brown junior middleweight title scrap, gets the blackout treatment in this region from Showtime.

* A listener's review of John McEnroe as a guitar strummer and singer with a band in a New York bistro was, "It sounds like a high school blues/garage band that has listened to too much Jimi Hendrix." It boggles why a great tennis player, art dealer and now successful broadcaster harbors this thing about being a rocker.

* Check it out: A goodie tomorrow at 3 p.m. is the NCAA women's gymnastics championships on ABC. It's a tense competition among five excellent teams with an upset the feature and many sparkling performances by individuals, including Jenny Hansen of Kentucky winning her third straight all-around title. That's never happened before.

Following at 4 p.m. on ESPN is another thrill-a-minute offering, the Penn Relays track meet. This is the 101st edition of the carnival, which is almost as big to competing collegians as the Olympic Games.

Ironically, gymnastics, which rarely gets any big-time exposure except in an Olympic year, gets another shot at 4:30 on ABC's "Wide World of Sports" as teams from the United States, China and Belarus compete in the Visa Challenge.

* If this is (almost) May, it must be time for the NBA playoffs to commence since there are still 89 games to be played (max) before the first day of summer when the basketballs finally go flat. Doubleheaders on TNT and TBS last night, running from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m., and the same tonight proceed two games starting at 1 p.m. tomorrow on NBC, and three more Sunday (12:30, 3 and 5:30 p.m.). TNT and TBS both have games tomorrow night, too, as every game is on somewhere, network or cable, and after an 82-game regular season it seems a bit cruel that the eventual champion could end up playing 26 more games. Chris Webber of the Bullets is in the Turner studio tomorrow and Sunday. Don't even mention the Bullets' season (21-61), fella.

Never mind, the NHL wraps up its shortened season Tuesday, the Stanley Cup playoffs start May 6-7 with the potential of a final stretching all the way to July 1. If the Boston Bruins are in the showdown in the non-air-conditioned Boston Garden, they could end up playing on roller skates and cement as ice would be a virtual impossibility by then.


* CBS once again gives boxing a network presence, kicking off a series of Sunday afternoon bouts ("Eye on Sports," 4 p.m.) with James Toney taking on Anthony Hembrick. Recall, Toney was a highly regarded champion until getting wasted his last two times out while Hembrick is the lad who missed a fight while stuck in traffic at the 1988 Olympics, assuring himself immortality among triviacs.

* Mike Flanagan, Orioles pitching coach and man of a thousand quips, recalled on a recent show how Earl Weaver used to start in on umpires with the very first pitch. "Earl never realized this," said the former Cy Young Award winner, but I used to say to the plate umpire, 'if Earl gets on your nerves, throw him out and we'll have a nice quiet game.' " Chances are Flanny wasn't the only chucker to say this to an ump.

* The commercial of the week award goes to the one wherein viewers are instructed to "show your real colors" by ordering up a phone done up in the colors and logos of the 109 baseball-basketball-football-hockey pro teams "for only $60." And sunglasses are "only $25."

* Gil Clancy, who took George Foreman's place as one of HBO's commentators as Big George fought, says, "Every day he looks older and it really shows." Still, because "We have no loss of interest in George," according to Seth Abraham, president of HBO Sports, the premium cable will continue to show his fights, even hoping to put one of them on pay-per-view. What an unholy alliance, cable TV, a fighter and promoter, the Axis II.

* Just one day after being selected high in the first round by Charlotte in the NFL draft, Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins was hawking his autograph on a football card for $48.22 (postage and handling included) on one of the shopping networks. Strike while the iron's hot, baby, and before you throw deep into a zone late for your first interception.

* The Capitals vs. Panthers game is the Fox NHL game at 3 p.m. . . . Believe it or not, the end of the America's Cup is in sight, the first race of the finals between the Kiwis (New Zealand) and Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes slated for May 6 (4 p.m.) just prior to the Kentucky Derby on ABC (4:30 p.m.).


* An example of a sports broadcaster needing a little help with her script: Leslie Gudel, reporting on the Boston Marathon on a show called "Press Box," said Cosmas Ndeti won for the third time, his time being "only two minutes off his record of last year."

* Tip for sports junk collectors: With all the gear bearing Michael ,, Jordan's original number of 23 (retired) sold and with his current No. 45 selling well, don't be shocked if he moves to another number next year. Maybe even different numbers on his home and road unis. Marketing, gang, it's the name of the game.