For the sake of imagery, the poster for Friday night's all-star boxing card should be framed with light bulbs.
Headlined by the heavyweight title fight between champion Larry Holmes and Earnie Shavers, it is a variety show that leaps the bounds of the Americas in appeal. And if none of the five fights stacks up as a classic, the price is right for those whose cultural life is supported by the umbilical cord of television. The only cost is three hours in front of the babble box.
Welterweights Sugar Ray Leonard and Andy (The Hawk) Price start the action at 8 p.m. EDT.
In the Rating Game, ABC is anticipating a 35 percent share of the audience, 5 points above the established success level.
The weighing-in today of the feature performers, Holmes and Shavers, for the 15-round World Boxing Council version of the heavyweight championship was almost devoid of drama.
There was friendly bantering between the undefeated champion and Shavers before the champ's weight was announced as 210 and the challenger's at 211. A woman in the stands at the Caesars Palace sports pavilion shouted, "Get him, Earnie."
Holmes grinned indulgently and yelled with good nature, "You better help him, darling."
So confident is the 29-year-old unbeaten Holmes of handling the 35 year-old Shavers that the champion said, "I just want to make a good showing," to atone for his sorry performance against Mike Weaver before knocking him out in the 12th round in June.
Holmes was so much in command when he decisioned Shavers in a 12 round nontitle bout here in March 1978 that Holmes won every round on two officials' cards and all but one round from the other official.
Since then, Shavers has knocked out Ken Norton (in the first round, in March 1979), and Edmund Porett (in the third round in May).
Since outpointing Shavers, Holmes has decisioned Norton (in June 1978) for the WBC title and defended his championship with knockouts of Alfredo Evangelista, Osvaldo Ocasio and Weaver.
Holmes has knocked out 22 of his 31 opponents. Shavers has knocked out 56 of 66 while winning 58 times and figuring a draw. He has the "boomer's chance."
A bettor has to lay 4 to 1 here if he wants to bet on Holmes but can get 3 to 1 if he takes Shavers. It is 2 1/2 to 1 the bout will not go the distance.
It is said that Shavers throws "nuclear bombs," but he tired badly while chasing Holmes in their first meeting. Yet, Shavers matched punch for punch with Muhammed Ali before losing a decision after one of the greatest 15th rounds in boxing history.
Holmes has a stunning left jab and a sneaky right uppercut that he used to finish Weaver, but he is more the boxer who sets the pattern for a fight and controls it by smothering an opponent's leads.
The two welterweight bouts hold a particular interest for Washington, D.C. area viewers.
Leonard will risk status for his Dec. 1 shot at Wilfredo Benitez's WBC title when he takes on Price, of Los Angeles, in defense of his North American Boxing Federation title. Price has beaten Jose (Pepino) Cuevas, World Boxing Association champion, and former WBC champion Carlos Palomino.
Roberto Duran, former undisputed world lightweight champion, will be opposing Zeferino (Speedy) Gonzalez of Los Angeles in a 10 round nontitle welterweight bout. Duran figures to be a future opponent of Leonard's because both are such strong box-office attractions.
Wilfredo (Bazooka) Gomez of Puerto Rico is the victim of his size and the star system. He is the super batamweight champion of the World Boxing Council, but because North Americans like to see the bigger guys, Gomez's 15 round title bout against Carlos Mendoza of Panama will not be shown on television unless some of the other bouts are foreshortened.