Is ''Celebrity Boxing'' the worst show ever? The ever-tawdrier Fox network outdoes itself this time, says Bruce Fretts
Paula Jones, Tonya Harding, ...
Credit: Celebrity Boxing: Fox

Is ”Celebrity Boxing” the worst show ever?

For Wednesday night’s ”Celebrity Boxing” on Fox, tens of L.A.’s skeeviest-looking citizens packed a makeshift arena to watch a trio of fights between pop-cultural footnotes, brainlessly hyped by host Chris Rose (presumably no relation to Charlie) as ”one of the most anticipated sports events of 2002.”

The laughs began early on, as ring announcer Michael ”Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! Now Where”s My Paycheck?” Buffer told the crowd to ”Please rise to honor America with our National Anthem.” As Francis Scott Key spun repeatedly in his grave, Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough and sister Pollyana (seriously!) performed the most painful ”Star-Spangled Banner” since Roseanne’s crotch-grabber.

The first bout matched up ”Partridge Family” bad boy Danny ”Boom Boom” Bonaduce against ”Brady Bunch” brawler Barry ”Da Butcher” Williams (wait, wasn’t Sam ”Da Butcher?”). In a word, it was fugly. The 42-year-old redhead swung his freckled arms wildly and landed multiple haymakers on Williams’ 47-year-old noggin. Despite wearing protective headgear, Williams was knocked down four times in the first two-minute round alone. Less than a minute and a half into the second round, the erstwhile Johnny Bravo bit the canvas for the sixth time, and his corner literally threw in the towel. Bonaduce bent down to hug his fallen opponent. ”A classy move,” noted Rose, who said the ”Other Half” cohost was giving Williams ”the credit he deserved” for staying on his feet for nearly four minutes. Not to mention exposing his man-boobs on national TV.

The middle card pitted the former Vanilla Ice (now called Rob ”Bipolar” Van Winkle, as if that’s less embarrassing) against Todd ”Mad Dog” Bridges, who entered the ring to the unintimidating theme from ”Diff’rent Strokes.” Announcers Rose and Ray ”the Original Boom-Boom” Mancini stressed Bridges’ greater experience as a fighter, which seemed to consist of meeting Muhammad Ali on his sitcom’s set when he was 13. Still, that beat Ice’s single day of training. Bridges knocked down Van Winkle twice before the Iceman cometh back with what Rose termed ”that gangsta-rap action we’re used to seeing from Vanilla Ice” Huh? Both men went the distance (six minutes!), and the judges awarded Bridges the fight on points. To his credit, Ice did not say, ”Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

Then came the main event: fighting figure skater Tonya ”TNT” Harding against Paula ”The Pounder” Jones (not to be confused with Paula Poundstone), whom Rose reminded us ”got down and dirty with the most powerful man in the world.” (Or didn’t, as the case may be.) Perhaps attempting to protect her plastic surgery, Miss Jones spent most of the match running and hiding from Harding, who happily punched her in the back of the head. Jones did land one fluke blow in the first round, which led Harding to try and call an illegal time-out (shades of Lillehammer!). But the ex-Mrs. Jeff Gillooly took control, and Rose soon spit out the words Gov. Bill Clinton once longed to hear: ”Paula Jones goes down!” After Jones channeled Roberto ”No mas!” Duran and put up her red-fingernail-polished hands, the ref named Harding the winner by TKO.

It was an epic evening. The good news is Fox billed this as the ”first edition” of ”Celebrity Boxing,” meaning we can look forward to future throwdowns. Can’t wait for a Gary Coleman-Emmanuel Lewis matchup. With boxers this bizarre, who needs Mike Tyson?

What did you think of ”Celebrity Boxing?”

Celebrity Boxing
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