It’s another big weekend for college basketball, but there are a couple of other sports programs that deserve attention.
One is Saturday night’s Michael Nunn-Sumbu Kalambay middleweight title fight at the Las Vegas Hilton on HBO.
The other is a taped adventure film with, of all people, Tim McCarver as host.
“Tim McCarver’s World of Adventure,” not to be confused with “Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure,” is a fascinating film that, in parts, makes the movie, “Jaws,” look tame.
The 1 1/2-hour show will be on ABC Sunday at 3:30 p.m., which is right in the middle of the college basketball on CBS, so crank up the VCR.
First, a look at the fight.
Ross Greenburg, executive producer of HBO Sports, calls it, “A coming-out party for both fighters.”
Nunn, although widely known in Southern California, is hardly a household name elsewhere. His two big fights, against Frank Tate and Juan Roldan, were seen by a limited audience on pay-per-view.
One of the main reasons Nunn’s manager, Dan Goossen, made a two-fight deal with HBO was to give his fighter more national exposure.
Still, Nunn, the undefeated International Boxing Federation middleweight champion, is considerably better known than Kalambay, who is originally from Zaire but now fights out of Italy. He is 46-3-1 with 26 knockouts.
In 1987, Kalambay beat Iran Barkley to win the World Boxing Assn. middleweight title, which he has been stripped of for supposedly not defending it soon enough. But that doesn’t really detract much from this matchup.
Said Greenburg: “This should be one heck of a fight. We have two of the most gifted athletes in the ring, although neither has gotten the recognition he deserves.”
HBO’s original two-bout, $2.5-million deal with Nunn called for him to fight the winner of last month’s Roberto Duran-Barkley fight. But that fight turned out to be so good that promoter Bob Arum, according to Greenburg, went back to HBO and asked if Nunn instead would fight the loser, Barkley, sometime this summer, provided Nunn beats Kalambay.
Arum apparently has bigger plans for Duran, such as pitting him against the winner of the June 12 Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns bout.
HBO, given financial incentive, agreed to the switch, although Goossen says nothing is definite.
“We are concentrating on Kalambay, and haven’t looked beyond this fight,” he said.
Whoever wins Saturday night will join Leonard, Duran and Hearns as the other big name in the middleweight picture.
If it’s Nunn, a Leonard-Nunn fight down the road, provided both get past other hurdles first, would figure as a pay-per-view blockbuster along the lines of Leonard-Marvin Hagler and Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks.
HBO’s prefight coverage Saturday starts at 7 p.m. No undercard fights will be shown.
With the main event scheduled for 7:23, HBO will have plenty of time to profile Nunn and Kalambay. HBO even sent a crew to Chiaravalle, Italy, where Kalambay lives.
Gene Hackman, one of the many Hollywood stars belonging to Nunn’s growing fan club, will be among those interviewed during the Nunn profile.
Announcing the fight will be HBO’s regular team of Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and Leonard. It will be Leonard’s last assignment for HBO before he goes into training for the Hearns fight.
Lampley, who switched from sports to news last summer, views the HBO job as a perfect way for him to maintain ties to the sports world.
“During my final year and a half at ABC, I was really getting into boxing,” he said. “Now I am fortunate enough to have the No. 1 boxing job in the country, and it is conducive to my schedule.”
His last HBO assignment was the Tyson-Frank Bruno fight Feb. 24, and his next one after Nunn-Kalambay will be April 15, when Marlon Starling and Mark Breland meet for a third time.
Might Lampley, a Channel 2 news anchorman, someday go back to sports full time?
“I can’t at this time imagine doing that,” he said. “If I had to choose between giving up sports or giving up news, I would give up sports.”
Tim’s Big Adventure: McCarver was in Los Angeles this week to promote Sunday’s show, which was produced and directed by Pierre de Lespinois.
“You’d think they would have gotten an expert to host this show,” McCarver said. “I am anything but an expert.”
In the show, most of which was taped a year ago, McCarver, who admits to a healthy fear of the ocean, goes snorkeling with sea lions in shark-infested waters off South Australia, goes scuba diving in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, and goes to depths of 800 feet in a mini-submarine.
“The one thing I refused to do was be dropped by rope from helicopter onto a glacier,” he said. “You know, I’ve got to think about self-preservation.”
During a feature on speed skiing, McCarver braves 75-m.p.h. winds in a wind tunnel.
“That was tough, really tough,” he said. “I had to squat and lean forward for four or five minutes, and I got a cramp. You’d think a guy who used to make a living squatting behind a plate wouldn’t have trouble squatting, but this was a lot different.”
The most amazing footage is in the show’s final segment. A great white shark actually swallows a camera, enabling viewers to see its insides.
The camera, McCarver explained, was connected to a pole and pulled from the shark. The camera obviously was heavily damaged, and it wasn’t known if the film was good until the crew got back to New York.
The great white shark segment focuses on Australian Rodney Fox, who began studying sharks after surviving an attack in 1963.
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