Cable gets in on Bruno act

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The Independent Online
Boxing: In a low blow aimed at BSkyB's pay-per-view stranglehold on the Bruno- Tyson world heavyweight title fight, the cable station Live TV are to give its viewers the contest for free.

The station, known for its man-in-a rabbit-costume "News Bunny", will be showing a blow-by-blow "reconstruction" of next Sunday's 4am confrontation in Las Vegas. Boxers Terry Dixon and Damien Caesar will copy the moves and play the parts of "Big Frank" and "Iron Mike" in a makeshift ring 24 floors up at Live's Canary Wharf studios in London.

The stunt is an attempt to undermine BSkyB, who are charging up to pounds 14.95 for exclusive footage of what is being billed as the fight of the century. And Live are offering a bonus, for Britain's Bruno, who is no stranger to pantomime, will retain his title no matter what.

Just like in the best soaps, the 1.25 million homes with access to Live are guaranteed a happy ending because any unpalatable outcome will be re-enacted, with our man hanging on to his World Boxing Council crown.

Using radio and TV feeds from European sources, the two substitute fighters will be given instructions by a dinner-jacketed ringside expert on every step of the action 4,000 miles away at the MGM Grand. At the end of each round, two pundits will discuss the makebelieve fight's progress.

Sound effects will add to the "realism", and Live - run by Kelvin MacKenzie of "Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster" headline fame while editor of the Sun - has gone to the trouble of matching the physiques of its punching players with Bruno and Tyson. "They will be hitting each other," Ruth Settle, a spokeswoman for Live TV said, "but I'm not sure how hard."

Chris Johnson, Live's Head of Sport, is playing the part of defender of the little man. The mock-up, he said, was "for the thousands of people who can't or won't fork out the extra money to see the fight. You can't deprive the nation of this unique moment in British sporting history". In the fight for publicty, Live TV - like Bruno - can't lose.

Confident Collins, page 24

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