HEARINGS ARE NOW under way before a House labor subcommittee concerning legislation that would put the (so-called) sport of boxing under federal control. The justification offered by those who testified last week in favor of the bill is that the world of boxing is a mess. Fighters and their managers lie and cheat. Promoters play favorites and, in doing so, make some mediocre boxers rich and keep some proficient boxers poor. Television, with its piles of money and private match-making arrangements, is destroying true competition. State boxing commissions can't control the sport. And internationally, or so it is said, American boxers are discriminated against because there is no strong national organization to support them.

How about that, sports fan? To rectify these wrongs, which are inflicted daily on a few hundred young Americans who make a living trying to beat each other's brains out, Rep. Edward P. Beard (D-R.I.) has proposed the creation of-yes-a federal boxing control board. Evidently many of the people who like boxing, or make money from it, want to purify it. So far so good. But they also seem to figure-like everyone else who has a problem these days-that the feds should help them out.

Surely, among the things the federal government ought to be doing and is not, cleaning up boxing ranks about 95th on a list of 84. It's right down there, in our view, with controlling the Little League and supervising roller-skating derbies. Try to imagine it: Two burly men waiting in the corners of a ring while an announcer said something like this: "This bout is sanctioned by the Federal Boxing Commission, an official agency of the United States Government." Rep. Beard could do everyone a service on this project by throwing in the towel.