LAS VEGAS FIGHT JOURNAL — The Fight of the Year was taking place last Saturday with undefeated Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev defending all of his light heavyweight titles against undefeated Andre “S.O.G.” Ward, the former super middleweight champ. Las Vegas was the center of it all.
It wasn’t close to approaching any kind of pay-per-view buy record, but for hard core fight fans this was an ice cream sundae with all the delightful trimmings.
By the time I reached the T-Mobile Arena the doors were open to the fans, but like all boxing matches the heavy portion of the expected crowd arrival was still two or three hours away.
After parking my car and heading for the press credential pickup station, the first person I recognized was Stitch Duran, the hugely recognized cut man for both boxing and MMA. We talked a bit and he informed me he was working Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields corner. The Michigan female fighter was a major reason I made the trek across the desert.
Inside the arena many journalists were already sitting. This is unusual. The only reason I could surmise was they were also there to see Shields make her pro debut.
Sitting near me was Dylan Hernandez who recently wrote a piece for the LA Times about the demise of boxing. He formerly covered the Los Angeles Dodgers beat and just recently turned toward boxing. The theme of his story was “boxing is dying?”
We talked a bit about other boxing matters and some baseball. On occasion I also cover Major League Baseball and we talked about some possible trades in the making.
The chief editor of the SweetScience.com Arne Lang approached me to talk over the coverage of the fight card. Soon after, author Tom Hauser joined us in a conversation and we talked a little. He’s written numerous books, too many to name. All of us awaited the female fight to commence.
Hauser and Lang spoke about the difference of MMA crowds to boxing. The subject of boxing’s demise came up again. It’s a topic that UFC’s Dana White loves to talk about. Of course, he has an agenda.
As a historian, I’ve read boxing stories that date back to the 1880s and I can tell you that even back then newspapers talked about the demise of boxing. I kid you not. I once read an article on the great John L. Sullivan and a reporter asked him about boxing’s demise. Here we are more than 130 years later and boxing remains as strong as the Rock of Gibraltar.
A few years back, when I first met Sergey Kovalev at a Russian restaurant, we spoke about his country and boxing. I asked him if MMA was popular in Russia and he laughed.
“Nobody knows MMA in Russia,” Kovalev said about sports in Russia. “First its soccer, then boxing.”
If you scan different countries around the world it’s quickly apparent that boxing remains popular everywhere. MMA cannot compete. The United Kingdom remains a boxing nation as does Germany and all of the rest of Europe. Only in the USA, Brazil and Japan does MMA have a strong fan base. Still, boxing remains stronger even in the countries named above. How else can someone like Floyd Mayweather make $300 million for one fight while UFC’s Conor McGregor makes $5 million? By the way, McGregor has the purse record for UFC while dozens and dozens in pro boxing have exceeded that amount.
Meanwhile, some continue to spout inaccuracies about boxing and MMA.
About 13,000 fans filled the T-Mobile Arena by the time Kovalev met Ward for the WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight world titles. Before that, around 3,000 saw Shields defeat a very capable Franchon Crews in their super middleweight bout.
I predict both fights will result in rematches in the near future.
In the light heavyweight contest it looked like Kovalev would win. The judges seemed to be influenced by the crowd which cheered any time Ward fired a punch and missed. Kind of like the “Manny Pacquiao effect.” Still, it was very close and another fight should be made soon. Who else can they fight to make big money?
Regarding Shields and Crews, it was a very competitive fight though the Olympian was a clear-cut winner. Crews did not have much time to prepare and maybe that made a difference. One thing is certain: Shields and Crews are each good enough to win a world title very soon.
L.A. Bonaventure Hotel
A fight card takes place at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, Nov. 26. All Star Promotions will be staging a large boxing card that at press time numbered approximately 10 pro bouts planned. Doors open at 5 p.m.
A female bout features Haley Pasion (1-0) against debuting Lisa Porter in a lightweight clash set for four rounds. Pasion fights out of Hawaii and has not fought in two years. In her only bout she defeated an MMA fighter by majority decision in San Diego. I remember she stormed out in front and had problems in the last two rounds. Porter, 28, has been making the rounds sparring in various Southern California boxing gyms.
Rounding out the remaining bouts are eight undefeated fighters looking to remain unblemished. Abraham Lopez of Rowland Heights (who is not the same undefeated Abraham Lopez that fights out of La Puente) will be in the main event. The super lightweight is set for six rounds against San Francisco’s Jonathan Zamudio.
The Bonaventure Hotel remains one of the best venues to watch boxing. It features great restaurants and is located blocks away from the Staples Center and Microsoft Theater. The hotel itself is one of the jewels in downtown L.A. It has a rotating restaurant and bar on the top floors. During baseball season you can see Dodger Stadium a mere two miles away.
Promoter Ed Holmes has been putting on these fight cards for a number of years and usually has an array of celebrity guests attend his shows.
For more information call (323) 816-6200.
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.