A Travel Guide Through a Two-Way Street

BY Michael Katz ON June 07, 2006
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LAS VEGAS, June 8 – As a public service, I can tell you where to go.

You’ve been vacillating between Atlantic City and New York City so let me offer a tale of the tape of two cities that are hosting pay-per-view cards Saturday night.

Of course, you can stay home, put two television sets next to each other and watch both with barely a swivel of the neck. But you’d rather to be at the scene, so here are some guidelines by a native New Yorker who traveled so often to the Sewer-on-the-Sea that he was mistaken for the Garden State Parkway:

The bigger names are in A.C., Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver certainly outrank Miguel Cotto and Paul Malignaggi (who has the longest name). Edge: New Jersey.

But the odds are that with Tarver and Hopkins a pair of aged counterpunchers, the best fight will be at Madison Square Garden, where hometown hero Malignaggi will start by outboxing Cotto. Edge: New York.

There’s no Staten Island in Atlantic City. Edge: New Jersey.

Atlantic City is closer to Philadelphia. Edge: New York.

The semifinal in Atlantic City features Israel Vasquez defending a 122-pound title against Ivan (Choko) Hernandez. The bigger names are in New York. Kevin Kelley, the ancient Flushing Flash, faces Pacquiao in the semi. Unfortunately, this Pacquiao is not Manny but his less gifted brother, Bobby. Edge: New Jersey.

The best restaurant in A.C., counting the White House sandwich shop, is Chef Vola’s, which would get lost in New York’s Little Italy, which would get lost in Big Italy. Edge: New York.

If you only have one TV set, know that the Boardwalk Convention Center card is (a) $10 more expensive and (b) is certain to be replayed the following week on HBO before the live Jermain Taylor-Winky Wright fight, which you know you can’t miss. Edge: New York.

Atlantic City has Park Place and Boardwalk, but New York has the monopoly on great parks – Central, Prospect, Bronx and the Bronx Zoo. Edge: New York.

Both are dotted with buildings by Donald Trump. A wash, one for which the term drip-dry was invented.

The Boardwalk in Atlantic City is celebrated in song. Coney Island and Rockaway’s boardwalks are much classier. Edge: New York.

There’s casino gambling in Atlantic City. New York’s joints are sub-rosa, illegal and thriving. Edge: New Jersey.

The Irish Pub, 24/7 all year, is an oasis of magnificent magnitude. My favorite New York bars, the Lion’s Head and Gough’s, are long gone. Edge: New Jersey.

The Irish Pub’s jukebox holds the Notre Dame Fight Song. The New York card features John Duddy, a native Irishman. Plus, Irish football captain Tom Zbikowski’s pro boxing debut and he will be ushered into the Garden ring by about 30 of his teammates. Edge: New York.

Bob Arum will be at the New York show. Edge: New Jersey.

Atlantic City has a “Don King Plaza.” Edge: New York.

Hector Camacho Jr. and Jorge Paez Jr. are on the undercard in Atlantic City. The son also rises up North, where Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. makes his perfunctory appearance on an Arum undercard. Edge: Ennui.

The ocean ain’t what it used to be in Atlantic City, according to Burt Lancaster’s line in the acclaimed film, “Atlantic City.” Further up the right coast, the water’s fine. Edge: New York.

Besides “King of Marvin Gardens” and the aforementioned “Atlantic City,” my film library is short of movies hailing the town. Don’t get me started on New York in the cinema. Edge: New York.

Tarver and Hopkins are two of the best yappers in boxing, though Bernard’s taunts have made Antonio a bit tongue-tied. Malignaggi, all by himself, can carry a conversation, though the best line of yesterday’s Garden press conference, according to PR whiz Fred Sternburg, was when Cotto predicted that after the fight Malignaggi would have to “go back to the ballrooms and clubs.” Edge: A push, although it didn’t come to shove.

You never heard Frank Sinatra singing, “A.C., A.C.” Edge: New York.

Looks like Oscar de la Hoya, who’s the Atlantic City promoter, will use that platform Saturday to announce whether or not he’ll fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Sept. 16 (in Las Vegas) or go out with his victory over Ricardo Mayorga. I’m sure Bob Arum will be pounding the drums for one of his future shows, like Hasim Rahman-Oleg Maskaev. Edge: New Jersey.

The night life in Atlantic City is whoever is appearing at the casino showrooms or how you’re doing on the tables. That’s the cultural equivalent of way Off-Broadway. Edge: New York.

Speaking of culture, what does Atlantic City have besides the museum of the diving horses that used to go into the tank on the Steel Pier? Edge: New York.

Atlantic City or New York: Where would you rather live?

Frankly, I’d rather be in Paris. Okay, for one fight card, Memphis, for the barbecue and Taylor-Wright, will do.

PENTHOUSE: Oscar de la Hoya, if he – as I suspect – chooses to face Mayweather.

OUTHOUSE: Gary Shaw, for portraying himself as a humane boxing promoter, saying he could not in all good conscience allow Diego (Chico) Corrales to again face a Jose Luis Castillo who did not weaken himself by making weight. Right, and where was Shaw’s conscience when, as a Main Events executive, he allowed Arturo Gatti to go into the ring about 20 pounds heavier than poor Joey Gamache? I hope Gamache wins a bundle from the New York State Athletic Commission for letting Gatti and Co. get away with it….Speaking of which, there is the good old New York commission moving up the weigh-in today to 1 P.M., instead of the usual 5 P.M., which will probably mean that Cotto, who has trouble making 140, will probably be closer to 160 by the time he gets in the ring with Malignaggi.

PASS THE HAT: But not for Bob Arum or Gary Shaw if they say they lost millions with the Corrales-Castillo. I seem to remember most promoters take out fight insurance before a big show. Maybe they didn’t break even this time, but alms are better spent elsewhere….Similarly, talk of the casino sponsors, Steve Wynn and Caesars Palace, being upset at losing the show and thus less likely to back boxing in the future is rather silly. The casinos did just fine. There were about 10,000 tickets bought for the card. Most were refunded, mostly by the casinos. They got to bring in their high-rollers and didn’t have to buy them expensive ringside tickets. You can properly assume that while the players were in town, they played….So Don King went to Dubrovnik to lay the way for the WBC convention this fall at the beautiful old walled city. I was there 40 years ago for the first time, back when it was in Yugoslavia. It’s now part of Croatia, but political boundaries aside, I believe it’s still on the gorgeous Dalmatian Coast of the Adriatic. It’s much too good for the WBC. Poor city. Conquerors from East and West went through it and when I was first there, I was playing in the little casino outside the walls with Tito and the Shah of Iran. Now it gets Don King and Jose Sulaiman.

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