ABC gets the nod for best camerawork. Its mixture of tight and wide shots allows viewers to see which fighter is cutting off the ring. The lack of commercials on HBO should give us time to hear the corner men between rounds. Indeed HBO mikes the corners, but chatterbox Barry Tompkins keeps drowning out the handlers. More on ring talkers:
ABC—Using one announcer works only with Howard Cosell, who's more tolerable here than on football. He has a knack for detecting subtle shifts in momentum. Keith Jackson runs out of insight at the weigh-in.
CBS—Manager-turned-matchmaker-turned-analyst Gil Clancy tells us exactly what we want to know: the strategy Balboa should use to defeat Palooka. Clancy's street-tough accent also is fitting. Tim Ryan rates an A as straight man. Glamour boy Sugar Ray Leonard adds nothing but his name.
NBC—Together with Clancy, Ferdie Pacheco is the cr�me de la cr�me. He's humorous, incisive, opinionated. Subject to a possible conflict of interest because he announces the fights he buys, Pacheco has proved himself to be evenhanded. Marv Albert? The perfect foil for Pacheco.
ESPN—Resident barker at its fights is Sal Marchiano, a screamer who also works for ABC. Analysts Randy Gordon and Al Bernstein are, respectively, knowledgeable and clich�-prone. Their round-by-round scoring of lopsided bouts puts you to sleep faster than Love Boat.
HBO—Will someone please tell Sugar Ray to stop parroting the points his partners make? Why not replace him with tough, perceptive Larry Merchant, the third member of the HBO team, during rounds?
USA—The talkers are furnished by Madison Square Garden and L.A.'s Olympic Auditorium, which provide the Friday night cards. It's usually amateur night at the mike, but the Garden's monotonous John Condon at least has been around the ring.