Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2019

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Hilton back in boxing biz

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Kaspars Kambala, left, former UNLV basketball player turned boxer, speaks during a news conference at the Las Vegas Hilton Wednesday, July 2, 2008.

NOW:

For the first time in more than six years, the Las Vegas Hilton is going to stick its toe back into the boxing waters on Tuesday, which makes a lot of us old-timers happy.

To continue with the analogy, there was a time during the 1980s when the Hilton was the big toe, the Sgt. Hulka as it were, of local boxing. Just as big as Caesars Palace. On some nights, maybe even bigger.

Mike Tyson fought there, Thomas Hearns fought there, Julio Cesar Chavez fought there. Ozzie Ocasio fought there, too, although on that night, you might argue the Hilton was more like the Showboat.

Today's press conference that formally confirmed the debut of Tuesday Night Boxing this Tuesday night -- ageless veteran Kevin Kelley is the headliner -- was actually part Hilton, part Showboat.

It was held in the well-appointed Crown Room. (Hilton) But a couple of the fighters didn't show and five minutes before the conference begin, publicist Jim Hunter, an alumnus of both the Hilton and Showboat, was explaining why one of the guys on the undercard had changed his name since yesterday (Showboat).

Half of me expected Iran "The Blade" Barkley to come strolling into the room at any minute in that white polyester suit.

The other half expected Engels Pedroza.

----- Last season, there were times when I didn't think Kendall Wallace could have scored 25 points if he stayed on the court by himself after the other team had showered and returned to its hotel. So it was surprising to read about him scoring that many on 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc in UNLV's 97-55 exhibition victory over the West Metro Pirates in Australia. Wallace missed a buzzer-beating shot in the Rebels' loss today/yesterday/tomorrow or whatever day it is Down Under, but perhaps he's going to a bigger contributor than a lot of people -- like me, for instance -- thought.

----- There are some people -- like me, for instance -- who think the best sports in the world are the ones where you can play and drink a beer at the same time. Such as slow-pitch softball. That's also why this weekend's Las Vegas Dart Classic is not to miss. Actually, the players don't drink beer during the matches because it wouldn't look good on TV -- yes, darts are big on the telly back in the Mother Land. But the best dart player ever, Phil "The Power" Taylor, worked in a toilet factory before he became a darts-throwing legend. That should count for something/everything.

----- Erin Blanchard and Chris Estrada will represent the United States in trampoline at the Beijing Olympics. Yes, trampoline is a sport. But if Blanchard and Estrada want to impress me, they'll have to pop open a Bud Light while fixing a toilet.

THEN:

Want to amaze and shock your friends? Or win a bar bet? Tell them Indiana used to be good in football.

For one year, anyway.

It was 1967. The Hoosiers went 9-2 and represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl, where they lost 14-3 to O.J. Simpson and USC. It was Indiana's only Rose Bowl appearance.

The Hoosiers were coached by John Pont, who died Tuesday. He was 80 years old.

I wonder if John Isenbarger, No. 17, will go to the funeral.

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