When I was 16, a fun afternoon for me would consist of scouring the web for information about my favorite boxers. There was nothing more awesome than discovering what Roy Jones Jr. ate on a daily basis or how many miles Marco Antonio Barrera ran in preparation for his biggest fights. I may not have been getting girls at the time, but I sure as hell knew more about my favorite fighters than anyone else did, and the obscure information I came across made big-time fights all the more special.
Now 19 and in college, I’m no longer an Internet boxing nerd, and the minute details of fighters’ lives are no longer important to me. I’ve turned into a casual boxing fan, watching only the biggest fights and just occasionally checking the internet for sweet science updates. The 16-year-old me would probably roll his eyes at my current interest in the sport, just like I roll my eyes now at how crazy I was about boxing at 16.
But this past week while watching HBO’s “Mayweather/Marquez 24/7” – a documentary series which gives viewers an all-access pass to the lives of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez as they train for their September 19th welterweight fight – I was reminded of why I was so obsessed with boxing a few years ago. And I’m beginning to think 16-year-old Dan Horgan has a better reason for rolling his eyes.
24/7, which was launched in 2007 when Mayweather prepared to do battle with superstar Oscar De La Hoya, is one the best shows I’ve ever seen. The series is so well done, in fact, that I can’t think of any better way to get amped for fights. Following world-class pugilists’ training camps both in and out the gym is a brilliant concept that HBO has turned into fantastic programming for even non-fight fans. And the show is slowly bringing back my boyish admiration for boxing.
This past week’s episode focused heavily on Marquez, whose training techniques differ greatly from most fighters’. To gain strength, the Mexican climbs a local mountain and tosses heavy rocks into the thin air. To recuperate, he drinks up to 25 quail eggs at a time, and he even consumes his own urine, which he says puts nutrients back into his body.
As I watched Marquez slowly down his body’s excrements, I cringed. But as I saw him raise his fist proudly when he finished, my disgust with Marquez turned to disgust with myself: I remembered why the small details of fighters’ lives used to mean so much to me, and I couldn’t believe I had ever forgot.
Boxers’ personal minutiae make them and their struggle more relatable. We all have our own battles, and we’re all looking for an edge to prevail over our problems, so it’s only natural to draw inspiration from fierce warriors such as Marquez. Marquez drinking his own urine may be odd and disgusting, but it’s one of the details that sets him apart from other pugs – and one of the details I would have eaten up three years ago. The triumphant lift of his fist was a symbol of the joy that overcoming these daily battles can bring.
I wasn’t some crazed fan boy when I was 16; I was someone who saw the beautiful human element in boxing – the element of struggle and triumph. I realized that like fighters, it’s the little things that get us normal people through our own battles every day. And the little things are what make us unique.
So thanks to HBO, the boy in me is, at least for this fight, back. As I watch each episode of 24/7, I learn more about the little nuances that Marquez and Mayweather tick. And like it did when I was 16, knowing obscure details about each fighter will make fight night all the more special. The only difference now is that I’ll (hopefully) be watching the fight with a few hot chicks.