"The Moment of Truth."

That's what Thursday night's Buster Douglas-Evander Holyfield fight is being billed as. It's kind of boring as far as big-fight slogans go. After all, it's no "Thrilla in Manilla," no "Rumble in the Jungle."

Hey, it's not even "The Geezers at Caesars."

No, this isn't "The Moment of Truth." (In fact, it may turn out to be "The Mirage at the Mirage.")

The moment of truth will be when Mirage owner Steve Wynn, who successfully bid $32 million for the fight, finds out if he Wins, Loses or Draws.

Wynn's competitors say he went overboard on a fight with no Leonards or Tysons. Time and pay-per-view will tell. Pay-per-view is boxing's best friend.

There are 14.7 million PPV capable U.S. homes, nearly triple the number for the 1988 Tyson-Spinks fight, the biggest PPV boxing event ever, reaping about $21 million by reaching about 7 percent of the then-reachable homes.

However, Wynn eliminated the usual middleman promoter in dealings between the rights holder (him) and local cable companies. Wynn winds up with 53 percent of the PPV and closed-circuit dollar compared with 38 percent if there had been a middleman, according to Mike Trainer.

Wynn hired Trainer, Sugar Ray Leonard's guru, to coordinate the event. The way Trainer sees it, "Steve's going to be fine."

Douglas is guaranteed $24.75 million, Holyfield $8.25 million. Throw in about $2 million in advertising, $4 million for the Don King buyout and $3 million for sundries, including Trainer's fee, and Wynn's layout is roughly $40 million.

Trainer sees about 6 percent -- a "conservative" figure, he said -- of addressable PPV homes paying the $35 fee. Add closed circuit and he estimates $18.5 million right there.

(Don Mathison, senior vice president for marketing and programming at Media General, this area's biggest cable outfit, sees "seven to 12 thousand orders" out of a possible 170,000, translating into 4 to 7 percent.)

Added Trainer: "There's 9 million in gate {receipts}, 3 million in foreign rights, 3 million in ancillary items -- merchandising and video cassettes -- and three days of gambling. And heavyweight fights get the biggest gamblers. Figure 5 to 10 million there."

Add it up. Roughly $40 million.

Win, Lose or Draw? The Joke's on Him

An eerie symmetry emerged Saturday night, with the baseball season ending about 11:15 and George Steinbrenner resurfacing 15 minutes later as host of "Saturday Night Live."

There he was, baseball's biggest joke trying to be funny.

The Boss opened by saying he had just bought the Reds. He seemed nervous throughout his half-dozen skits, reading cue cards all the while.

One bit was quite funny, one bit was a bit funny, the others bit the dust.

Bob Costas did play-by-play of a Steinbrenner dream in which the Yankees are about to win the World Series. The Boss is doing it all -- pitching, catching, managing (no word if he fires himself and replaces himself with himself). He then goes to the mound to take himself out and, as Costas said, "bring in the left-handed Steinbrenner."

Once More, With Feeling

As for the other baseball show that night, Game 4 of the World Series on CBS, it too was a dud. Jack Buck and Tim McCarver were uncharacteristically subdued, even after the Reds took the lead. C'mon, we're talking sweeping the A's.

CBS had a chance to partially redeem itself in the bottom of the ninth. The Nastiest Boy, Randy Myers, comes in. So does Mighty Casey, Jose Canseco. While Myers is warming up, Buck and McCarver can set the stage for this thrilling situation. But nooooooooo. Commercials.

Once back, Buck said, "Do you like high drama?

Ugh! Not Buck and McCarver's fault. But still, Ugh!

To the victors' clubhouse. (Sorry, Schottzie, no dogs allowed.) Jim Kaat, garbed in trench coat all during the series while lurking under the stands, gets where he needs it most -- amid champagne showers -- and he's not wearing it. Must be that waterproof CBS blazer.

Preliminary ratings indicate this is the second-lowest-rated Series since the move to prime time in 1971. Last year's, with the earthquake, is the lowest.

Final Chapter, First Verse

On the final Miami-Notre Dame game, CBS sideline reporters John Dockery and Tim Brant were informative detailing the steps taken to keep the teams from meeting in the stadium tunnels, where last season the teams had a pregame tussle. Then the kickoff and Jim Nantz proclaims: "THE FINAL CHAPTER BEGINS." First play from scrimmage, Notre Dame fumbles. "THE FIRST CRITICAL MISTAKE OF THE GAME," said Nantz, knowing full well that the FIRST CRITICAL MISTAKE can't occur before the first play.

Hey, Jim, calm down.

Almost All the Facts

On Channel 7's "Sports Sunday," Frank Herzog joyously takes us through highlights of the Redskins game, conveniently splicing in bits of him, Sonny and Sam from the radio broadcast. (Quite a concept. I've heard of turning down the TV to get radio play-by-play. The Zog eliminates the middleman.) Anyway, he schmoozes for five, arduous minutes. Tells us everything we'd ever need to know about the Redskins-Eagles game.

Except the score.

During his radio broadcast, The Zog became irate with Kelvin Bryant. Said any wide-open player who drops a pass should be fined.

Perhaps any sportscaster who doesn't give the score should be fined.