The Bettor Part of Valor

BY Phil Woolever ON April 10, 2006
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LAS VEGAS– Visitors stopping by 555 East Washington Avenue here Thursday morning can expect an educational experience regarding the politics of boxing regulation, procedure, and very important business.

That’s the where and when for the Nevada State Athletic Commission to begin formal examination of specifically what happened, and who may be guilty, regarding the tenth round fracas that insanely interrupted Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s wonderful winning effort against Zab Judah.

The who, what, and why of Dukeville’s latest entry into the journal of kooks and killazs is much less clear, blocked out in a blur of blockheads, besieged bystanders, and heavily-armed security.

“Discretion” will be defined, Vegas style. That’s the key word here involving twosomes, three-ways, and all sorts of professional engagements, including those listed in the commission rulebook.

Freeze frame video will expose some truths, but there’s no way to capture the emotional frenzy that eclipsed a great night of boxing. That intangible, undeniable energy is one of the primary, or primal, reasons people pay big bucks to check out the action.

Most witnesses got more than they bargained for Saturday night, in a communal circus that gave just about everybody inside Thomas and Mack Center an adrenaline jolt.

One person said to have anticipated the worst was Roger Mayweather, Floyd’s uncle and trainer, who reportedly warned Floyd to expect the type situation that occurred when Judah played lowball and back-of-the-headhunter.

Uncle Roger was also the first person to charge into the ring. Advocates for Judah’s position might point to premeditation.

“People who should not have been in the ring got in from both sides,” said Keith Kizer, soon slated to replace Marc Ratner as Executive Director, “The commission is going to take a very close look and decide what, if any, discipline should be issued. We’ll see. I think Mr. Roger Mayweather has a lot of quite hard questions to answer, and if the commission isn’t pleased (with his explanation) you may have seen him in a Nevada ring for the last time. The good news, and most important thing, is no one got hurt.”

Again, intangible emotional energy and discretion come into heavy play. In some cases they’re the same, in some unfulfilled desires they’re quite the opposite.

Floyd Mayweather kept his cool, and elevated his public persona. Mayweather seemed patiently amused during the melee, as he had during most proceeding moments of the fight. Judah also stayed in character. Apparently thriving on the anarchy and ready to pump up the volume.

Up until round ten of Mayweather-Judah, it had been an almost flawless fight card. Too bad the arena was less than a quarter full until after the Diaz-Cotto warm-up act.

Twenty-six-year-old Jorge Arce, 111, 44-3-1(33), continued his offbeat yet sincere progress into international recognition of the type he enjoys in Mexico. Arce overwhelmed faded Rosendo Alvarez, 120½, for a knockout at 1:54 of the 6th.

“I promised to knock him out and I did,” said Arce. “I want an even bigger fight, so I can represent Mexico.”

Alvarez, now 37-3-2 (24), couldn’t make near the contracted weight, and did one of those fistic-style, Dorian Grey agings every round. He did manage to give a glimpse early of what things might have been like a few light years ago, cutting Arce’s right eye and raising the usual lumps on Arce’s grinning, more than willing face. A spear to the ribs sank Alvarez to a knee and he wisely chose to wait as ref Vic Drakulich counted ten.

“I thought Arce wasn’t that good, but he is,” admitted a pale Alvarez. “I should have prepared better. I was so weak before the fight I vomited.”

Juan Diaz, 135, 29-0 (14), absorbed all sorts of big shots from Jose Miguel Cotto, 134, 27-1 (19), but Diaz landed even more in defense of his WBA title. Diaz looked like a possible star as he earned a wide but still extremely demanding unanimous decision. Both undefeated fireplugs came out blazing. They spent much of the fight trading blasts, head-to-head, over the beer sign at center canvas.

“Every time I hit him with a combination he hit me right back,” said Diaz. “Next, I’d like to a unification fight against the winner of (Jose Luis) Castillo and (Diego) Corrales.”

That’s a big step, all the way to the top. Diaz, who tried vainly to fill in for injured Jesus Chavez against Marco Antonio Barrera, believes he’s ready.

Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr, 147, improved his record to 25-0-1 (19), with a second round stoppage of game but overmatched Tyler Ziolowski, 146½, 5-1 (5). Chavez has already beaten up on enough six round fighters to take a more risky assignment.

Wes Ferguson and Jose Manuel Lopez got the house rocking with a wild, afternoon preliminary at 135 pounds. Ferguson, now 13-1-1 (8), took a 10 round majority decision that could have gone either way. Lopez is now 16-2 (9).

In the early appetizer, Sal Garcia, 123, 14-3-2 (7), scored a comeback TKO over Juan Ramon Cruz,

124½, 13-2 (9).

Vanes Martirosyan, 154, 8-0 (5), continued to impress, with a stoppage of Tefo Seetso, 151½, 2-2-1.

 Of course, what ended up most vivid image, and stealing the scene, was the mini-riot. Just as there’s no way to materially capture emotional highs, the same goes for lowlifes. It could have been worse. Throughout the main event there was a hostile herd pushing toward ringside.

There was definite danger in the rarified air, which included Beyonce, Jay-Z, Usher, Magic Johnson, and Toby Keith.

Outside the well-escorted VIP area said danger was more than likely hidden in more than one a--hole’s pocket. Arena Director Daren Libonati told Kevin Iole of the Las Vegas Review Journal that metal detectors found an unidentified member of one of the fighters’ camps to be packing a pistol, presumably loaded.

The gun was reportedly returned to a vehicle, for which the Strip was much safer. Ringside, more than thirty police officers, more than twice the usual amount, had been deployed in light of “bad blood.”

Las Vegas’s finest may have added fuel to the fire when they swarmed the ring with SWAT-like precision, but their well-armed presence assured no more fools would rush in. This duty usually involves little more than checking out the well rounded scenery, and doesn’t appear a tough assignment to staff. But tonight was one of those nights where LV Metro proved their constant, invaluable necessity. Too bad an episode of “COPS” wasn’t filmed.

The line between marketing and mayhem is a thin one here.

There is indeed much to learn, and consider. The thuggish “Sworn Enemies” theme played up gritty potential surprises. Truth in advertising.

Vegas recently passed certain ordinances against some rap scenes. Is boxing next? Considering potential liability or loss of income from ringside VIPs, it’s another touchy issue.

Thursday. Ten AM PST. Discretion defined, dissected, and dispensed.

The Nevada Commission will do their best, business as usual. It’s a shame not everyone inside the ring Saturday night can say the same thing.

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