© St. Petersburg Times, published February 14, 2003
NEW YORK -- NBC, which brought boxing to national television 57 years ago, will return the sport to network telecasts for the first time since 1996 through an agreement with Main Events Productions.
The General Electric Co.-owned network will carry a live 90-minute boxing card beginning at 3:30 each Saturday from May 3-17. Telemundo, NBC's Spanish-language network, will air a different live fight for one hour at 2 on those days.
The boxing matches -- the first on NBC since 1992 -- will serve as lead-ins for two of NBC's bigger sports events, the Kentucky Derby on May 3 and the Preakness Stakes on May 17.
Fighters and locations for the bouts will be announced within the next three weeks.
The boxing telecasts will be the first live bouts on broadcast network TV since News Corp.'s Fox showed a series of Saturday night fights seven years ago.
ITALIAN IN COMA: Unbeaten Italian middleweight Antonio Perugino, 29, remained in a coma after six hours of brain surgery to remove a blood clot.
Triple Olympic champion Janica Kostelic severely bruised her arm and hurt her shoulder blade when she clipped a gate at the World Championships. She hit the gate with her elbow toward the end of the giant-slalom course. She finished 13th, clutching her hand and grimacing.
Kostelic, who became the first skier to win four medals in one Olympics last year, won the gold in the combined Monday. She'll ski in the slalom Saturday despite the pain in her knee and arm.
ESPN signed a four-year contract extension to cover the French Open through 2006.
ESPN and ESPN2 will air more than 80 hours from this year's tournament starting May 26. ESPN will show both women's semifinals June 5 and one men's semifinal the next day.
NBC will show the men's and women's finals, as it has every year since 1983.
TOURNAMENTS: Top-seeded Roger Federer was the lone seeded player to advance to the quarterfinals of the Open 13 after beating Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 6-3 in Marseille, France. ... Vince Spadea defeated fourth-seeded Jan-Michael Gambill 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the Siebel Open in San Jose, Calif. Top-seeded Andre Agassi cruised by Mark Philippoussis 6-4, 6-1.
The U.S. Open Cup, the championship for American clubs, will feature 34 teams. A format revision adds two to the field. All 10 MLS clubs will compete, and the USL will send 20 representatives. Four representatives of the U.S. Adult Soccer Association also will compete.
British discus thrower Perriss Wilkins was banned from the sport for life after testing positive for anabolic steroids a second time.
"Given that this is the second doping offense committed by Perriss Wilkins, he is therefor now ineligible to take part in athletics events within the UK and abroad for life," UK Athletics said.
Advertising flights over stadiums would be banned from one hour before an event to one hour after under a bill adopted by the House.
The provision, part of a spending bill, was sought by the NFL, MLB, the University of Michigan and others. The ban would be in place for one year after the spending bill takes effect. The Senate is expected to pass the bill today and send it to President Bush for his signature. Flights and blimps for broadcast coverage would continue to be allowed, as well as cleared commercial flights.