IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE now, but John Stewart's long involvement in boxing nearly ended before it began. He was just a kid dreaming of becoming a champion someday when he showed up at the Police Athletic League gym at 23rd and Columbia in North Philadelphia so many years ago. An instructor laced the gloves on, shoved him into the ring to spar with another newcomer and . . .
FOR THOSE OF you who are absolutely certain Manny Pacquiao will blow through Antonio Margarito in the same emphatic manner in which he destroyed Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, remember the possible parallels between the Nov. 13 bout in Cowboys Stadium and the April 22, 2001, first matchup of Lennox Lewis and Hasim Rahman in Brakpan, South Africa.
THE NOW-SHUTTERED Blue Horizon is a marvelous place to watch boxing, but it lacks certain amenities. Despite improvements made to the historic facility in recent years, some fighters still dressed behind bed sheets and hung their street clothes on nails.
Penn State's offense has packed about as much pop as a damp firecracker, and the first quarters of most games have been exercises in hibernation on both sides of the ball, but coach Joe Paterno doesn't think the Nittany Lions are teetering on the brink.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER Jr.'s racist, homophobic rant toward Manny Pacquiao, so widely viewed via YouTube, should not be dismissed as just more trash talking by a fighter to boost interest in an upcoming bout. The much-anticipated matchup of the world's two finest fighters is beginning to look as if it won't come off, in any case, which makes "Money's" latest trudge through the slime pit even more reprehensible.
MIKE JONES, the welterweight contender from North Philadelphia, is a lot like George Jefferson. Jefferson, a character in the popular sitcom "The Jeffersons" that ran on CBS from 1975 to '85, turned his modest business into a string of successful dry-cleaning establishments, and thus he and his family found themselves "movin' on up."
Bernard Fernandez is a native of New Orleans who was bitten by the journalism bug when he won a citywide Catholic schools essay contest for eighth graders. His first newspaper job was as a copyboy for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans in the summer of 1964. He has also been a sports writer at the Houma Courier (La.), Miami Herald, Jackson Daily News (Miss.) and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Bernard has been at the Philadelphia Daily News for 23 years. His primary beats are boxing, which he has covered for nearly 20 years, and Penn State football. During his career, he has served as four-term president of the Boxing Writers Association of America; received the Nat Fleischer Award from the BWAA in April 1999 for lifetime achievement; been inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame (2005), and received 63 local, state, regional and national writing and public-service awards, including two firsts and a second in the APSE (Associated Press Sports Editors) writing contest.