Pazienza Seeks New World Of Hurt

In the past three years, Vinny Pazienza suffered a broken neck, had a metal brace screwed into his skull, went broke, and tortured himself to get back into boxing even though some considered such a return life-threatening.

Now he wants to step up to the light-heavyweight division "because I want to be in with someone who can hurt me."

Pazienza, set to fight Roberto Duran tomorrow in a super-middleweight bout in Atlantic City, N.J., was asked, "Who do you think can hurt you?"

"I'm dying to find out," he said.

"Obviously," he added, "I'm not playing with a full deck. I like living on the edge. But I'm not into bungee jumping. I'm not gonna die with a rope around my legs."

Arguello on comeback trail

Alexis Arguello is 42 and has fought only once in the last eight years. Yet the former three-time champion has tentative approval to return to the ring.

Arguello will fight a scheduled 10-round bout Jan. 21 against Scott Walker, a Phoenix fighter with a record of 17-3-1.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission approved Arguello, with the condition he pass additional eye and heart tests, which the state requires for all boxers over 36.

"He has fought only once in the last eight years and we don't want to take any chances," said Marc Ratner, commission executive director.

Arguello (80-7) held titles as a featherweight, super featherweight and lightweight. After an eight-year layoff, he returned to the ring last August in Miami for a fight in which he broke his hand.

Young legs

Said Aouita of Morocco, the world's dominant distance runner of the 1980s, is making a comeback at age 35.

The former Olympic and world champion will run in the 3,000 meters at tonight's Grand Prix Indoor in Hamilton, Ontario, his first race since 1992.

"I'm only making a comeback for pleasure," he said. "If if works, fine. If not, too bad."

High-altitude plea

The parish priest in the mountain village of Monachil, Spain, has agreed to invoke the town's patron, St. Anthony, in a desperate plea to end a snow drought jeopardizing this month's World Alpine Skiing Championships in Sierra Nevada.

Monachil priest Jose Vega said he accepted a petition from the town council to parade the statue of St. Anthony in a special procession Jan. 17 and hold a mass to pray for snow.

A drought in southern Spain has left the peaks of Sierra Nevada snowless, generating fears that the Jan. 29-Feb. 12 championships may be at risk.

Hot feat

Bill Walsh, former San Francisco 49er coach, was asked earlier in the season by the Dallas Morning News to assess Barry Switzer's role with the Cowboys.

Walsh referred to Switzer as a "ceremonial leader." Last week somebody asked Switzer about it.

"What does that mean?" he replied. "That I dance around a fire?"

Road worriers

Indiana's Hoosiers would have a much better chance of handing Coach Bob Knight his 12th Big Ten Conference basketball title this season if they didn't have to play on the road.

At home, the Hoosiers have won 50 consecutive games. Their road record this season: 1-5.

Looking back

On this date in 1971, 33-year-old Lenny Wilkens of the Seattle SuperSonics became the oldest MVP for an NBA All-Star game after scoring 21 points to lead the West a 108-107 win over the East.

Did he say that?

In light of the NHL settlement, here's a quote from NHL Vice President Brian Burke, who on Oct. 3 was asked by NewSportalk's Chet Coppock if the league had already prepared a shortened season to accommodate the Fox Network:

"That's nonsense. . . . I get the dates from the teams. There is no 50-game schedule."

Look out below

Warren Sapp, the University of Miami's outstanding defensive lineman, is an avid swimmer who reportedly does double back flips off a diving board.

Defensive coordinator Greg McMackin, who is expected to join the Seahawk staff, says Sapp can dunk a basketball from any angle starting from a flat-footed stance.

Remember, Sapp stands 6 feet 3 and weighs 284 pounds.

Barkley feeling better

Phoenix forward Charles Barkley, who has played much of this NBA season with back and stomach problems, again is hinting this could be his last season.

"I would like to keep playing, but physically it's been a struggle for me this year," he said. "But I do feel like I am getting better. Before I make any decision, it all will depend on how I feel, physically."

If Phoenix wins the whole thing this year, Barkley said he wouldn't mind retiring and playing golf with retired buddy Michael Jordan. "That would definitely make my life a lot easier," Barkley said.


`Our defense is like the wind - it comes and goes.'

- Dana Barros, Philadelphia 76ers

Trivia question

Which Academy Award-winning actor played left guard for Harvard in a famous 29-29 tie with Yale in 1968?

Tommy Lee Jones.

Compiled by Chuck Ashmun, Seattle Times