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a c SECTION C INSIDE MARLINS It's all up to the Vols Tennessee can prove it can win the big game by winning the SEC Championship. PAGE 8C Sprewell's agent: NBA influenced Warriors He cites the team's change from a 10-day suspension for the player as proof. PAGE 6C Last player from first team designated for assignment Alex Arias, a reserve infielder ' who is the team's all-time : '-leader with 44 pinch-hits, will ' be traded, waived or released within 10 days. PAGE 3C "TV SPORTS Heat shoot down V- - r V IF) r J. A have plays -.-Vi'Vl; . s .!);'. J, T - , Jit? '1 ALISON REDLICHStaff Photographer ,SH - .-3 t' ') j0m l Cheryl Rosenberg JWbman boxer a winner, but not for women l POMPANO BEACH They came to see the woman fight, there was no question about that They braved the Florida-frigid 50-1 , something-degree night (even the : pikini-clad card girls put on I sweaters in between their I saunters around the ring) to see I Just what this Christy Martin was all about , ! ; Martin, a 28-year-old anti-T pioneer of women's boxing, was Jo fight Venezuelan Marcela j Acuna in a scheduled 10-round . bout Friday at Pompano Beach Amphitheater. ; ,: Two minutes before the bout ' jbegan, in strolled the ultimate benefactor (and let's just say the ' lack of humidity on this night did , nothing to halt the height of his ; hair), promotor Don King. Perfect. K . t V Keith Holmes defends WBO 1 middleweight title ; 7C J I, There are some basic facts I you need to know about Martin: She is the most famous woman I boxer in the world and she fights jfor the most infamous promoter in fthe world. i She is in it for the money, not I to further the cause of women in 1 I sports. V' She entered the ring Friday wearing a pale pink robe with the hood up. Her husband, Jim Martin, and another handler also wore pink. The song The heat is on blared as the almost 1,000 spectators stood and cheered and whooped as she danced around. "My style's pretty aggressive-' Martin said. "They want to see people hit people and see people get hit. They know I'm going to hit." Then, the bell rang and Martin came out brawling. The crowd responded loudly to the solid thud of gloves connecting with flesh. Acuna was on the defensive the entire fight as Martin chased her around the ring. ; By the eighth, Acuna's left ; eye was nearly swollen shut. The fight went the entire 10 rounds and Martin, who knocked down Acuna in the 10th with a right cross, won by unaminous ; decision. There was nothing terribly '-. artistic about this. Martin is a I trained boxer but she got her ' start on a college dare, when she competed in "Tough Women" contests. t She found her way to Jim Martin's gym, where she arrived ' with her pomeranian in her arms " and her mother at her side. Jim ', figured he'd have her ribs broken ind send the little woman on her : way. Love at first fight : Instead, under the watchful ; eye of her boss, Jim saw her determination, her potential as a ", fighter, and, let's be honest, dollar ; signs. A woman who could box. . Not a bad attraction. ; ' ; - The chemistry extended beyond the ring, as the two fell in ' love and married. . ' 1 5 Martin has not lost since ' November 1989 and is 34-1-2 ' with 26 knockouts. She has appeared on every major TV talk ' show, been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and would seem to be the perfect poster-person for the . promotion of women to this male-dominated sport. r Onlv don't trv tellinc that to Wait until he feels the landing BOCA RATON Lynn's Mikael Jensen (center) grimaces after being tackled by Southern Connecticut's Chris Houser (right) in Friday's NCAA Division II soccer semifinal. The Knights won 1-0 on Gareth Dunn's fluky goal. It was the top-ranked Owls' first loss of the season. Lynn will face Cal State-Bakersfield in the final at 1 p.m. Sunday. STORY 7C r: Celtics: Mark Strickland scores a career-best 20 as Z hot-shooting Miami T: takes control early, . never relents. " By Jorge Milian Palm Beach Post Staff Writer ". ; : MIAMI The Rolling Stones weren't the only five-man band putting on a show Friday night in Miami. While the venerable British rockers were performing a few miles away in the Orange Bowl, the Miami Heat, led by Mark Strickland's career-high 20 points and 18-point efforts by Jamal Mashburn and Tim Hardaway, rocked the Boston Celtics 117-97 before 14,937 fans at Miami Arena. MONDAY'S GAME: Nets at Heat, 7:30 p.m. TV: Sunshine Miami (12-5) put the Celtics away early and countered the full-court, non-stop pace favored by first-year Boston coach Rick Pi-tino with dead-eye shooting. The Heat connected on 42-of-83 shots (51 percent) and committed only 17 turnovers to the Celtics, who entered the game first in the NBA in turnovers forced. "They give you a lot of opportunities because of their stylei" said Heat coach Pat Riley. 'If you're not sharp, they create a game that is havoc." The Heat were sharp, and Strickland was nearly perfect. The second-year forward from Temple made his first appearance with four minutes remaining in the third quarter, and managed his team-high 20 points by going 7f-10 from the field and hitting six straight free throws in only '16 minutes. " "Everyone knows that I'm real athletic and a fast-break game let's me showcase my talents," StrickJ land said. "Tonight, it was that way and I was just outrunning everybody." i . Strickland had plenty of help. Each of the Heat's five starters! scored in double figures; Hardaway added 10 assists to his 18 points while PJ. Brown had l i points and 12 rebounds. I ' ". The loss was the fifth in a row1 Please see HEAT6C Panthers fail to capitalizes at Capitals j By Brian Biggane Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WASHINGTON - The Florida Panthers spent most of their practice time this week working on their penalty-killing. Maybe next week they'll be getting back to their power play. SUNDAY'S GAME: Capitals at Panthers, 1:30 p.m. TV: SportsChannel Unable to capitalize on a four-minute power play in the second period or a five-minute man-advantage in the third, the Panthers lost 3-2 in overtime to the Washington Capitals on Friday night in the first NHL game at the MCI . Center. , Washington forward Jeff Toms, claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay on Nov. 19, stole the -puck from Florida defenseman Paul Laus at the Caps' blue line, beat Laus up ice and scored an unassisted goal with 1:28 remaining in the extra period as the Capitals won in front of a sellout crowd that included Vice President Al Gore. "It's a bitter pill to swallow," Laus said in a quiet Florida dressing room. "Especially when it's your fault." I ; The loss dropped Florida (8r Please see PANTHERS7C Dolphins designed for Phillips tough competition all season. "If they (people who assume Phillips will take his job) knew how good Bernie Parmalee was, or Irving Spikes was, or Ray Nealy was ..." Abdul-Jabbar noted how Tiki Barber and Tyrone Wheatley are coexisting in the New York Giants' backfield, as Corey Dillon and Ki-Jana Carter are in the Cincinnati Bengals' backfield. "Coach Johnson is constantly trying to improve the team and he's building," Abdul-Jabbar said. "I don't need that (Phillips' signing) to motivate me." Abdul-Jabbar and Phillips had a friendly conversation this week, during which Phillips told Abdul-Jabbar he was happy to be out of the cold. Phillips related how coach Tom Osborne wouldn't let him wear sleeves at Nebraska, no matter how cold it was. "But he had 12 guys behind him, ready to play," Abdul-Jabbar said. "So he went without sleeves." Karim Abdul-Jabbar says he won't be distracted by his new competiton, who is likely to play Sunday. By Ethan J. Skolnick Palm Beach Post Staff Writer DAVIE Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson named his first four of eight inactives Friday. Lawrence Phillips was not among them. Long snapper Frank Wainright (abdomen), Jim Kitts (groin), OT Brent Smith and RB Ray Nealy are out. Phillips, it appears, is in. The Dolphins have designed some "cut-down packages," tailored for a player with a limited grasp of the playbook. "He really, really improved from day one to day two," Johnson said. Day three was Friday, when the Dolphins with more significant roles v Jordan likely to play, but precautionary roster moves made 8C spent practice polishing. . Karim Abdul-Jabbar has one of those roles. He has 14 rushing touchdowns, 613 more yards than Phillips over the last two seasons, and a clean criminal record. And now, of course, he has competition. From his "best friend, friend," which is how Phillips' agent described the relationship between his client and Abdul-Jabbar. Best friends? Not exactly. Abdul-Jabbar, said they "just met" at the combine in Indianapolis. He maintains who met Phillips at a scouting combine in Indianapolis, said he will not let Phillips' entrance affect him. Phillips' locker is with the wide receivers, not the running backs. "You let it distract you or you don't," said Abdul-Jabbar, explaining how he's had to face Big good John Thompson, a friend to ex-Hoyas, always coaches his way, in a big way y f1 f - W.o! .' 1 I ft"" f (lot! 1 A Ml n n M J -CM' v By Dave George Palm Beach Post Staff Writer MIAMI Alonzo Mourning and the Miami Heat have tonight off, but that won't stop Mourning from driving over to Miami Arena. He owes a visit to a friend. No, make that a giant. Better yet, make that a friendly giant. Regardless of the gruff image John Thompson sometimes projects on the sidelines, Mourning could never see the towering, glowering coach of the Georgetown Hoyas any other way. "Patrick (Ewing) and I always call him up after a tough loss to see how he's doing, just like you would any friend," Mourning said. "He doesn't want to hear any advice from us, but he does like to hear from us." Thompson, in town for a Big East game against the 6-0 Miami Martin. She never tried to carry the torch. And she is incredibly defensive to any suggestion of her responsibility to encourage other women. Call it selfish. Ironically, the loudest fans cheering her on Friday were women. Maybe it's too much of a burden. '. "It's more pressure now," .. Martin said. "It's starting to weigh on me. I'm trying too hard. If I could relax, the knockouts would come easier. I'm still going to beat every opponent put before me, but if I relax, I could do it 4 earlier." " Perhaps carrying the hopes of women is simDlv too much. But when the heat is really on, Martin shouldn t look for too many proponents of women's equality to sit in her corner. TODAY'S GAME: Georgetown at Miami, 7:30 p.m., Miami Arena. TV: SportsChannel. Hurricanes, elicits guidance from very few after a quarter century of coaching NCAA Tournament teams. The wide swath he has cut across the game follows a route of his own choosing. That white towel he wears across one shoulder on the Georgetown bench signals anything but surrender. It is the trademark of a coach Please see THQMPSGN5C Among Georgetown coach John are Heat center Alonzo Mourning Thompson said he loves to watch THE ASSOCIATED PRESS1996 FILE PHOTO Thompson's favorite ex-players and Knicks center Patrick Ewing. the two play in the NBA.