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SPORTS TODAY

Knockdown is first
for Tyson as a pro

World heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who never has been floored in a professional fight, was dealt a surprise knockdown Tuesday in Tokyo in sparring for his Feb. 11 title defense against fellow American James "Buster" Douglas.

The brief knockdown came in the third round of his scheduled four-round sparring session when Tyson took a right hook from former world champion Greg Page.

Tyson, who has a 37-0 record with 33 of the wins ending in knockouts, including two title defenses last year, said it had been merely a slip and that he could not be floored. He later extended the sparring session to six rounds. Page said he was surprised at his knockdown.

Hearns, Foreman, DeWitt
on April 26 triple-header

Thomas Hearns will fight Michael Olajide and former heavyweight champion George Foreman will fight either Jose Ribalta or Trevor Berbick in a planned boxing triple-header April 26 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nev.

Doug DeWitt also will defend his World Boxing Organization middleweight title against either England's Nigel Benn or former two-time champion Donald Curry as part of the card.

Perles turns down Jets,
named AD at Michigan St.

A multimillion-dollar NFL contract couldn't entice George Perles away from Michigan State, which managed to keep its football coach by giving him the additional title of athletic director.

The Michigan State board of trustees voted 5-3 on Tuesday to give Perles the dual role, despite protests by some students, faculty members, alumni and President John DiBiaggio.

Perles will take over for retiring athletic director Doug Weaver on July 1 for a one-year trial with no extra salary. The board will then review Perles' performance to determine whether he can handle both jobs.

Dick Steinberg, the Jets' general manager, said Perles told him that Michigan State would not permit the coach to walk away from a 10-year contract signed two years ago. However, DiBiaggio has said Perles, who turned down the Jets' reported $5 million to $6 million offer, was free to leave if he wanted.

Steinbrenner says salaries
are getting out of hand

George Steinbrenner, the man who built World Series champions in the late 1970s with pricey free agents, agrees with other baseball owners on one subject -- that players' salaries are getting too high.

"It's just getting crazy. Shocked? Yes. Certainly," the New York Yankees said. "How can you pay a ballplayer 3, 3 1/2 million dollars a year when the head of the Chiefs of Staff is making just $77,000 a year?"

"Some way, somehow, someone has to say, 'Stop! Whoa!' Can one man make a $3 million difference in a ballclub. I don't know," he said.

The Yankees do not have a $3 million player yet, although Don Mattingly is entering the final season of a three-year contract.

The Yankees did sign free agent Pascual Perez to a three-year, $5.7 million contract.

Steinbrenner pointed at Kansas City owner Ewing Kauffman as one who helped drive up salaries. The Royals signed Davis to a $13 million, five-year contract.

"I don't want to hear Kauffman talk about how he's in a small market in Kansas City and then he throws around that kind of money," Steinbrenner said.

Meanwhile, Boston Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell figures with the huge salaries being given baseball players in recent days, the Red Sox should give him a three-year, $9 million deal when his contract expires at the end of next year.

In fact, if the Red Sox want to offer him that now instead of waiting for the end of the season, he'd probably take it, he said, "even though I might be selling myself short."

Bench helps Pistons snap
Bulls' home winning steak

Once again Detroit's bench proved to be too much for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, who ended up falling out of first place in the NBA Central Division.

Jordan, who led all scorers with 32 points, called Tuesday night's 107-95 loss to Detroit "a tough game."

The loss snapped the Bulls' team record 15-game home winning streak, and bumped Chicago one-half game behind Detroit in the Central Division standings.

In other news around the NBA, two men were arrested after Seattle SuperSonics guard Dale Ellis allegedly was the target of a $50,000 extortion scheme. Both men were subsequently released but an investigation continues, Seattle police said Tuesday.

The men are suspected of calling Ellis' attorney, Steve Hayne, last week offering to accept money in exchange for keeping quiet about alleged damaging information to Ellis' pending criminal driving case.

Ellis, the Sonics' leading scorer, recently was arrested for investigation of reckless driving and driving while intoxicated.

Ellis was driving a 1989 Mercedes Benz that struck a highway barrier Jan. 11. He received three fractured ribs and a collapsed lung in the accident.

Little League champions
ordered off banquet circuit

The Trumbull (Conn.) Little League All-Stars, the toast of the White House, the World Series and the chicken-dinner circuit since bringing home the world championship in August, are being benched.

Little League President Creighton Hale has ordered the team to curtail its public appearances or risk losing its charter, citing concerns about the boys losing their heads from all the attention.

"These are 11- and 12-year-old youngsters. They are not grown men, and they really aren't great athletes," said Hale, who wrote team officials last month.

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