Do you remember that scene in the movie “JFK” when Jim Garrison flies to Washington D.C. to meet with X, a character played Donald Sutherland, in the attempt to identify clues about who killed the President? It was the turning point of the movie. X saved Garrison’s case, gave him ideas that he never could have imagined, and bestowed in him the confidence to keep on plugging away towards his ultimate goal of finding out the truth.
Such persuasive wisdom could be used for boxing fans. There are moments like the Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley fight that are a source discouragement. But what can we do about it, besides talk?
I am writing you this message in the honor of Claude, Stew, Kevin, and Ronnie. They are men who are considered by their peers to be knowledgeable boxing fans. Men, who at one time or another, have called boxing the best sport in the world. Men that are like just you and me, looking for some entertainment on a Saturday night from world class fighters who get paid a great deal of money to showcase their talents on the grand stage.
The four horsemen are between the ages of 29-34. Most of them saw the Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley fight this past Saturday. And all enjoy the sport on a different level. This message will depict the levels of their love for boxing. And it will show how an undesirable fight like Pacquiao vs. Mosley could tarnish their desires to watch another manufactured bout that has little meaning.
Below you will read the bios of four boxing fans and the messages that I received from them before, during, and after the Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley fight.
Claude: Age 32
Famous Quote: “There is no other sport like boxing.”
Favorite Fighter of All Time: Oscar De la Hoya
Favorite Fight: Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward I, 2002
Favorite Boxing Moment: Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope versus George Foreman. “Ali fought against the ropes, it was a style that I had never been seen before,” Claude said.
The Bio: Claude loves to express his passion for the sport. He thinks he knows about more about boxing than others, spewing about the names of former titlist as if he were Bert Sugar himself.
Claude is a fan of flamboyant fighters like Floyd Mayweather or Roy Jones Jr. But he does not bother himself with minor details such as the fact that A. Floyd was born in Michigan. B. He was a 1996 Olympic Bronze Medalist. C. His breakout fight was against Diego Corrales. And D. Floyd started his amateur career at 106 pounds and his pro career at 130 pounds.
I have heard, “There is nothing like boxing,” come out of his mouth plenty of times. And his assessment prior to the Pac/Mosley dance off did not sound like it came from a man that once nearly broke up with his fiancé to attend the Mosley vs. Mayorga fight back in 2008. It was actually Nostradamus-like. It was the message that we all should have gotten before forking out that hefty dough. Claude refused to watch the Pacquiao vs. Mosley fight on Saturday.
Approximately an hour before Pacquiao and Mosley touched gloves for the first time, Claude said, “I feel great about boycotting this fight!”
My response: “Good for you!”
Claude said, “I am standing up for myself man. Do you think that I do not know Pacquiao is going to kill him? Are you kidding me? Boxing, you are insulting me? This sport is insulting my intelligence.”
Then Claude unleashes in a way that could only make us loyalists proud.
“They are making 20 million each to go spar, fooling us all. Mosley has no business fighting Pac. It is our fault as boxing fans.
We pay for this! They take our money and laugh at us!!!!”
Then I responded with, “I could not have said it better my friend. But, I am still watching this fight, like an idiot.”
Stew: Age 29
Famous quote: “Boxing sucks now bro. But I want to be a promoter.”
Favorite Fighter of All Time: Manny Pacquiao
Favorite Fight: Tito Trinidad vs. William Joppy 2001.
Favorite Boxing Moment: Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton 2007. “It was like USA vs. UK, such a great moment. And at the time, I was living with a British guy. So it felt even better to cheer for USA.”
The Bio: Stew is one of those undercover fight fans. On the surface, he acts as if boxing is extinct; loves talking down on the promoters that set up unimpressive fights and wonders out loud as to why Mayweather and Pacquiao do not throw down. Stew probably has not been excited to see a PPV event since Floyd Mayweather’s first retirement in 2007. Yet at the time of a big fight, he shows his true loyalty and tunes in. The level of negativity towards the sport of boxing that comes out of Stew’s mouth is frustrating. But he loves to share his opinion nonetheless.
On Thursday, Cinco de Mayo, two nights before the Mosley vs. Pacquiao fight, Stew and I went out for some drinks to enjoy the pleasant traditional Hispanic festivities. We ran into Mario Serrano, the boxing publicist for Gilroy based lightweight champion Robert Guerrero. Quickly, our conversations turned to the then upcoming big fight between Pacquiao and Mosley.
And Stew had his normally assertive viewpoints to share with us.
Stew said, “Look, Pacquiao is going to knock that old man out. Just watch, I will bet you dinner on it.”
I said, “You got a bet.”
Stew goes, “Ok, it’s on. And I am not going to no chump ass restaurant either. Just be ready, we are going to order a fine bottle of cab, a nice little appetizer, and have ourselves a feast. Mosley is finished.” I gladly accepted the bet, as a competitor and we all know the result, Mosley lost by unanimous decision, meaning that I won the dinner. Being the standup guy that he is, Stew did take much time to concede his defeat.
Immediately after the fight Stew sent me a text message saying, “I owe you dinner. This is why boxing is going downhill; some of these guys fight way too defensive bro. Pick a nice place to eat!”
I responded with, “You were talkin way too much beforehand. That is your problem.”
Then Stew said, “And I still am talking. Listen man, you have to call out weak running so called fighters like this. I am glad that I lost the bet. Just to prove my point. It kills the sport when these dirty fighters come to just pick up a pay check.”
I said, “Yeah.”
Stew continued, “He (Mosley) should get zero money. Then that would make him fight. Call them out Ray. You have the power. Mosley came for a check.”
“Oh, you know I will!” I said.
Stew: “For every big fight, there should be a total purse: 75% for the winner, and 25% for the loser.”
I said, “They do that sometimes.”
“Then why does this always happen?” He asked.
“It is a long story bro,” I said.
Kevin: Age 31
Famous Quote: “Mike Tyson is the greatest champion of all time.”
Favorite Fighter: Mike Tyson
Favorite Boxing Fight: Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks, “91 seconds of destruction,” 1988.
Favorite Boxing Moment: Mike Tyson’s entrance music against Michael Spinks. “The song that goes Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pmvfb8al0QE
Least Favorite Boxing Moment: Shane Mosley’s cowardly act on Saturday night.
The Bio: Kevin thinks Mike Tyson is the greatest heavyweight champion in the history of the sport. Surround the guy with some fight fans and he will unleash hell, spewing out historical facts about Tyson as if he was Cus D’Amato himself. As you could tell, Kevin never hesitates to worship the greatness of Iron Mike. Perhaps that is what keeps him watching PPV fights.
He is the definition of a casual fight fan, getting much of his info by word of mouth, or high end news publications like ESPN or Yahoo. After watching the PPV bout between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley, Kevin had this to say via text.
Kevin said, “Boxing is wack because big namers don’t fight for glory. They fight for money, unlike the MMA. In any prize fight, the loser should get $0.”
I responded with, “This fight was a joke.”
Kevin, “Mosley is a coward. You should talk about Mosley and how the boxing industry needs to be regulated. It should all be tournament style.”
“Yeah,” I say.
Kevin continues, “The top ten fighters should fight in a tournament in every weight class, 1 vs. 10, 2 vs. 9, 3 vs. 6, and so on. If you do not fight then your boxing license gets suspended for five years.”
I said, “Do you mean, like the Super Six?”
Kevin’s response, “The Super Six sucks too. It is taking forever.”
Then I said, “Well, that is boxing my friend.”
Ronnie: Age 34
Famous Quote: “I hate Floyd Mayweather.”
Favorite Fighters: Marvin Hagler and Manny Pacquiao
Favorite Fight: Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns, 1985.
Favorite Boxing Moment: “I still get the chills thinking about a Mike Tyson ring entrance.”
Least Favorite Memory: “Hagler being robbed by Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987.”
The Bio: Ronnie is a modern day boxing zombie. He cares merely about the fights and little about the politics that at times corrupt the sport. Manny Pacquiao is Ronnie’s hero of the moment. So he naturally hates everything that Floyd Mayweather stands for. A couch, beer in the left hand, and pumped fist in the right, Ronnie is the prototype, a fight promoters dream. There is never a dull moment during a big fight when Ron is in the room. Screaming and hollering with every solid punch thrown, Ronnie could be seen as the life of the fight party.
Ronnie’s Message: Moments before the fight Ronnie sent me this text: “Thanks for the memories Shane, enjoy retirement!!”
I said, “You have spoken like a scholar.”
During the fight, here are Ronnie’s messages to me in chronological order: “59-54 Manny”… “69-63 Manny”… “79-62 Manny”… “Mosley’s girl is hot”… “80-71 Manny, this is a laugher”…. ?B******* knockdown”…. “I think Mosley wants to kiss him not fight him” …. “Pacquiao is the greatest of our era!!!”
He stated the obvious so I did not bother to respond.
Ronnie enjoys the game for what it’s worth. He watches a fight, hopes for a knockout, and wants some action. That is what a fight fan should be. But the other three guys were left asking questions. Why did we ever believe Pacquiao vs. Mosley would be a good fight? Why do we continue to pay for fights that are seemingly one-sided? Why do promoters continue to sell us a poor product? And why do we let them get away with it?
These doubts are raised much too many times in boxing. When will we start sticking by our guns and searching for ways to find some solutions? That is the real question.
Politics is power. And boxing is a sport that is as political as they come. During their discussion, X told a discouraged Jim Garrison that, “Fundamentally, people are suckers for the truth. And the truth is on your side.”
I wish that were true in boxing.
Roughly an hour after the weigh in for tonight’s Super Six Semifinal bout between Andre Ward and Arthur Abraham, the Continental Ballroom in the Crown Plaza LAX Hotel in Los Angeles, CA was practically empty when the respective camps of both combatants stuck around to go over the CSAC rules for the bout, and inspect the gloves to be worn for each fighter.
Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter stood first. He examined the Everlast and Adidas versions of the boxing gloves that were placed on the table in front of him, smacking the front of the gloves with the palm of his left hand, and chose red Everlast gloves for Andre Ward. Then Arthur Abraham’s trainer, Uli Wegner, who seemed less animated than Hunter, picked out black Adidas gloves for Abraham. It was a process that seemed to be predetermined due to the fact that Andre Ward’s nickname, S.O.G. was already engraved in the Everlast gloves.
Meanwhile, Hunter doubled checked the Adidas gloves and argued that they felt lighter than the Everlast glove. At that point, Arthur Abraham casually walked into the meeting and tried on both versions of the gloves himself. Once Abraham grabbed Ward’s Everlast gloves, Hunter said, “Don’t worry, he (Ward) doesn’t hit that hard. You won’t feel anything when he hits you.”
Abraham gave Hunter a confused look then asked one of the members of his camp for a translation of Hunter’s comments. When Abraham received clarification, the trainer and the Armenian exchanged tempered glares.
In the end, there was no harm done. But the exchange between Hunter and Abraham was a small bit of gamesmanship before the true battle goes down tomorrow night.