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Three Up, Three Down: ‘The Fighter’ earns thumbs-up

In the spring of 1988 I was the low man on the totem poll, which meant when there was a boxing match at some place such as Bally’s, I got to write a short preview story on the main event and a shorter story on the fight itself. Sometimes we’d run a photo, if there wasn’t a game at Bishop Gorman.

That’s how I met Micky Ward and half-brother Dicky Eklund of Lowell, Mass.

Ward was fighting in Las Vegas for the second time, against someone named Joey Olivera. I don’t remember much about the fight — Ward, still considered an up-and-comer then, won a 10-round decision.

I don’t remember what was said for the preview story, either, except I had to go through Dicky, who was training Micky, to get a few words with his kid brother. Dicky’s 15 minutes of fame had consisted of going the 10-round distance against Ray Leonard in 1978.

There were chandeliers at the Bally’s ballroom. Dicky and Micky didn’t seem like chandelier guys. They seemed like the small lamp that didn’t match the rest of the living room furniture type of guys. They seemed like Showboat fighters, not Bally’s fighters, if there was such a thing as a Bally’s fighter.

Dicky was hooked on crack by then. Micky was hooked on letting guys hit him in the face. We’ve all got issues.

The movie about them is fantastic. I can say with the firmness and fairness of referee Joe Cortez that “The Fighter” wouldn’t have been as good had Mark Wahlberg (who stars as Micky) gotten another Boston guy, Matt Damon, to portray Dicky instead of Christian Bale. That was the original plan.

Do not miss this movie, even if there’s a game at Bishop Gorman.


■ Who said Las Vegas was a basketball town? A list of local football players appearing on Yahoo.com bowl game rosters:

Utah (MAACO Las Vegas): DeVonte Christopher, WR, Canyon Springs; Mitchell Deas, WR, Valley; Po’u Palelei, OL, Bishop Gorman; Jermiah Tofaeono, OL, Cheyenne; Eddie Wide, RB, Cimarron-Memorial.

Boise State (MAACO Las Vegas): Jake Broyles, OL, Foothill; Billy Winn, DT, Las Vegas High.

Navy (Poinsettia): Evan Palelei, LB, Bishop Gorman; Garrett Sherwood, LB, Faith Lutheran; David Sperry, CB, Faith Lutheran; Sam Womack, OL, Bishop Gorman.

San Diego State (Poinsettia): Colin Shumate, LB, Las Vegas High; Neil Spencer, DL, Cimarron-Memorial.

Missouri (Insight): Jarrell Harrison, DB, Palo Verde.

Arizona (Alamo): Keola Antolin, RB, Bishop Gorman; Juron Kriner, WR, Canyon Springs; David Hill, RB, Desert Pines; Garic Wharton, WR, Valley.

Army (Armed Forces): Chase Cresto, QB, Bishop Gorman.

Nebraska (Holiday): Mike Smith, OL, Palo Verde.

South Florida (Meineke): TJ Knowles, WR, Coronado.

Northwestern (TicketCity): Damien Proby, LB, Cheyenne.

Oklahoma (Fiesta): Quinton Carter, DB, Cheyenne; DeMarco Murray, RB, Bishop Gorman.

Stanford (Orange): Alex Turner, LB (Bishop Gorman).

UNR (Fight Hunger): Mike Ball, RB, Desert Pines; Bubba Boudreaux, DB, Centennial; Joe Huber, WR, Bishop Gorman; Kyle Larimer, WR, Green Valley; Emir Lopez, QB, Las Vegas High; Brandon Marshall, LB, Cimarron-Memorial; Nick Rhodes, K, Cimarron-Memorial.

■ Officials at the South Point and Orleans indicated the plethora of college basketball tournaments they are hosting during the holiday season don’t depend on fan support to be successful. Maybe Las Vegas can support an NBA team after all.

■ Findlay Prep ended Yates High School of Houston’s 66-game winning streak in a high school (sort of) basketball game televised on ESPN Thursday night, which means two things: Findlay is pretty darn good again, and it has a better TV deal than the Mountain West.


■ Was it UNLV’s lousy shooting that led to a loss against UC Santa Barbara Wednesday night, or was it the Gauchos’ good defense? Was it lousy passing that led to Peyton Manning throwing 11 interceptions in three games, or was it good defense by the Patriots, Chargers and Cowboys? Was it good pitching that led to the Phillies’ Roy Halladay throwing a no-hitter in the playoffs, or was it lousy hitting by the Reds? I guess it depends on who you bet on.

■ The 38th installment of a minor league basketball team invoking the memory of the old ABA has started up in Las Vegas as the Las Vegas Aces have started playing games at the defunct Sport Center of Las Vegas. Someone should probably remind the new ABA that with the exception of Artis Gilmore’s Afro and the fictional Flint Tropics, the old ABA was an abject failure.

■ It was learned this week that Chris Sheff broke three rules before being fired as College of Southern Nevada baseball coach that will cost the Coyotes 20 scholarships over the next two years. It was also learned there is a junior college rule book.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352.

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