Unlike other boxing scribes in the business, we at The Boxing Tribune pride ourselves on being free from promoter, network, and manager influence. And while our elbow-rubbing competition will give their readers the occasional “day in the life” of the bought-and-sold type; lavish trips to a foreign island to hobnob with matchmakers, promoters, network-types, and the fighters they’re supposed to be objectively covering, I’ve decided to give our readers a look at the day of a boxing writer not in the pockets of those he’s supposed to be critical of.
So here’s a look at a fight day in the life of a writer who prefers the couch to press row. Mayweather vs. Cotto: No access, no favors, and no glaring conflicts of interests that we hope you, the reader, are too dull to see, and even if you do, we are too arrogant to care and will block you on Twitter if you say anything in disagreement.
8:15 AM – I realize that I’ve been in bed reading dozens of old articles on Cracked.com and playing Words with Friends since I woke up just a little past 6. My iPhone tells me the “Free Comic Book Day” festivities at Geoffrey’s Comics in Gardena begin at 10. I put away my laptop and take a shower and get ready to go get some free comics, because I may not be getting free Mayweather vs. Cotto-related swag…but dagnabbit I’m determined to get some free stuff today.
9:13 AM – I arrive early, as instructed, only to see about 100 other early arrivals already standing in line. The mentally disabled guy wearing a fanny pack and pacing back and forth in the line in front of me strikes up a conversation with me. Even though he’s speaking loud enough for me to hear him from 50 feet away, we chat it up for the entire duration of our wait. Eventually a few other people in line (that could obviously hear the conversation) joined in, and I steered the conversation to the fight of the night. Unfortunately, boxing to the group in question is as foreign a topic as an active dating life, and I’m left answering questions as to the basics of the sport.
12:13 PM – I leave Geoffrey’s Comics with a bag full of free comics and another bag full of graphic novels I bought at severely discounted prices and head home to eat lunch and do some reading.
2:48 PM – I hop in my car and make the short drive to Long Beach to meet up with a friend (who is the biggest Miguel Cotto fan I know) to watch the fight. We park our cars at the Top-Valu Grocery store over on 5th and Pacific, because….well…it’s free. We walk on down to the Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles for an early dinner and a few drinks before the fight. We both ordered a chicken breast and waffle, and we split orders of collard greens and grits. We talked about what Miguel Cotto would need to do in order to have a chance to beat Mayweather as we ate and sipped our drinks – hers a vodka and cranberry, and mine a white Russian.
5:32 PM – We finish off our meal and we head down the street to the AMC Theater to print out our tickets, only to get to the theater and find that it no longer exists. When I plug in the address of the theater on my confirmation email I realize we’re at the wrong theater. My friend (who by now you may have noticed preferred not to be named) playfully called me an idiot before we hot-footed it back to the Top-Valu to pick up her car and drive down to the correct theater.
6:12 PM – We get into the theater in time to catch the last half of the first round of the Deandre Latimore-Carlos Quintana fight. The crowd in the theater was larger than I expected, but seemed to be more interested in talking amongst themselves than the fight on the screen. It was clear to both of us that Latimore underestimated Quintana, as he stalked the slippery Puerto Rican while looking for one big knockout punch. By the end of the first round, my friend (who also possesses a rather keen eye for picking up on fighter tendencies) tells me that the fight won’t go the full ten rounds, and that Quintana will knock out Latimore by the fifth. The HBO commentary crew seemed disinterested in Quintana’s increased success over the next few rounds, and Larry Merchant broke a long period of silence by remarking on Emmanuel Steward’s incorrect pronunciation of “Latimore”, which sounds more like “Wladimir” (Klitschko, Steward’s heavyweight champion). Much to my surprise, Quintana ends the fight with two big left hands in the sixth round, and I’m left to eat a small plate of crow for the next few minutes.
In the next bout, Jessie Vargas started out slowly, using his jab to keep the naturally smaller Steve Forbes at a distance. It proved to be an effective tactic, but Vargas never opened up over the course of ten rather dull rounds. At one point an usher warned me about using my phone during the fight. I pulled the “Do you know who I am?” card…he didn’t (and I must apologize to my regular readers for not being able to live-tweet or update my Facebook status with my thoughts during the fights). Forbes made the fight interesting in the seventh, closing the distance on a slowly fading Jessie Vargas, but it was far too late for the former jr. lightweight champion. Already well aware of the outcome, we snuck out and headed over to KNB – Kitchen, Den, Bar, for a couple more drinks before the scores were read.
7:48 PM – After we sucked down two more drinks apiece we made it back into the theater to catch the Canelo Alvarez-Shane Mosley fight. By now, the crowd had filled out and showed more interest in the action. Mosley, for his part, put forth a valiant effort, weathering a 12-round-storm of thudding blows to the head and body. At times, the sounds of Alvarez’s shots bouncing off of Mosley’s head and rib cage would elicit a collective “oooohhh” from the crowd. By the time the ninth round rolled around, you could hear talk of pity for the 40-year-old Mosley as he took a sound beating from a kid 19 years his junior. When the 12th and final round began the crowd broke out in a round of applause, quite possibly because many felt that might be the last round in Mosley’s career…which, if you’ve been around long enough, you know is not likely.
The main event didn’t elicit quite the reaction I had expected. With Mayweather being one of the more hated figures in the sport, I had expected a louder chorus of boos from the crowd. When he was announced in the ring the reaction was mixed. Cheers could be heard amongst the modest flock of boo birds. As an aside, any street cred that Floyd Mayweather had hoped to project in his carefully crafted image went out the window when the two young ladies seated next to me confirmed that the effeminate-looking person with the Ellen Degeneres haircut was Justin Bieber. The Latino population in the crowd cheered loudly as the champion, Miguel Cotto was announced, but the loudest cheers in the crowd came from my Boricua friend seated next to me.
The fight gave the fans in the theater more than they expected. Despite the near-flawless displays of defensive wizardry mixed in with his occasional offensive brilliance, Floyd Mayweather is more hated than appreciated. And whether it is age that is slowing him down, or Miguel Cotto’s size, strength, use of angles, and surprisingly effective defense, Floyd Mayweather was in a dog fight most of the night. I remarked to my friend how in many of the rounds I scored for Mayweather, the gap in scoring was closer than I’m used to seeing. His domination wasn’t as apparent, and the fans in the crowd cheered the action throughout. When Mayweather would be trapped along the ropes with Cotto banging away at his body and left shoulder, the cheers would erupt. HBO’s Jim Lampley may have made Cotto’s punches seem more effective than they were (big surprise, I know…), and in a peculiar moment, went into a mini fit of shouts of “Blocked! Blocked! Blocked! Blocked!” (reminiscent of his now infamous “Bang! Bang!” moment as Manny Pacquiao punched away at Joshua Clottey’s arms and gloves in their 2010 fight) as Mayweather looped his right hand around Cotto’s left glove several times in one brief moment of the fight.
At the end of twelve hard-fought rounds it was clear that no one in the crowd scored the fight in favor of Cotto, but no one left with a bad taste in their mouths. Mayweather clearly won the fight, but he came to fight and helped to make it exciting. I talked to several people on the way out who were surprised at Mayweather’s apology to the cantankerous Larry Merchant, as well as his positive attitude in response to Merchant’s repeated questioning of his impending jail sentence.
9:38 PM – We’re now back at KDB for a few more drinks to cap off the night. My friend is a bit upset at the outcome of the fight, and confused as to why Cotto left the ring without giving a post-fight interview. “What can I say, you know? I love Miguel Cotto, but it’s Floyd Mayweather. You can’t be mad at losing to him. I mean, it’s Floyd Mayweather,” was her reaction to the fight.
10:36 PM – We end the night with a small cup of ice cream from Coldstone’s while we relax on a bench outside the theater. My friend drops me off at my car and we call it a night. By the time I get home I’m beat from a long day of standing in the sun, fried chicken and waffles, and vodka. I make it through documenting most of my day before I call it a night.
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