by Fox Doucette
There’s an old saying that “you can’t go home again.” While that may be true in the literal sense, since my mom sold the house I grew up in and moved out of state when my brother and I got old enough not to eat her out of house and home anymore 15 years ago, it is certainly possible to live somewhere else for a fair while and get back to a place that is familiar, near and dear to your heart.
As this column goes live, your columnist is probably trying to catch up with a hundred people at once, on a vision quest of New England-style Chinese food and veal parmesan subs in the suburbs, or just trying to sleep off a Wednesday spent on an airplane from Reno to Boston. That’s right—in the coming weeks and months, The Boxing Tribune will find itself with a New England correspondent, no longer the only person in any given room with a Boston accent (wicked awesome, pahk the cah, and all that.)
Your columnist also had his fight taste defined by that very New England upbringing. Cheering for Marvin Hagler and Micky Ward and hearing the old guys tell stories about Marciano in his prime and Ali’s fight in a high school gym in Lewiston, Maine and paste Sonny Liston in 132 seconds, watching Ray Oliveira make the CompuBox computers spin around like a pinball machine with Tommy at the controls…where we are from so often defines us as fans.
The New England fight scene ain’t what it used to be. When the pride of Providence, a city that once gave the world Vinnie Paz, has been replaced by Vladine Biosse (who got beaten like a redheaded stepchild by Denis Grachev and made Ismayl Sillakh look like a stone wall by comparison) and Demetrius Andrade (your columnist’s favorite whipping boy), you know the old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.
The city of Brockton sure ain’t what it used to be either. The only decent boxers to come out of Brockton these days are its high school sports teams, who have adopted the Boxers as their team name in honor of the city’s two most famous sporting native sons, Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler. While this does keep the city’s proud tradition of inflicting chronic traumatic encephalopathy on its working-class residents in the name of sporting competition intact, football and boxing are not the same thing beyond that particular brain injury.
Then again, there has been a revival of sorts elsewhere in the Greater Boston area, thanks to a couple of action-fighting palookas turned movie stars turned boxing trainers thirty miles to the north of the city proper, mashed up against the New Hampshire state line in Lowell. Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund, accomplished fighters in their own right, have begun to put fight cards on at the old industrial-building gyms that have become a hallmark of renewed interest in the sport in the birthplace of American industry. If America is to revive itself as a boxing nation on nights that Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are not holding pay-per-view events and ducking each other, it will be in gyms like those in Lowell.
In addition, the Connecticut casinos, scarcely two hours’ drive outside of Boston, aren’t going anywhere—whatever one may say about the Providence fight scene (and your columnist’s disdain for those guys aside), ESPN is in Bristol about an hour and a half in the other direction in the Nutmeg State. With a major TV network preferring to tell its employees to get in their cars rather than paying to put them on a plane to Vegas if they can at all help it, that does bode well for the continued health of feeder-league boxing, the NBA D-League of the sweet science, in the southern reaches of America’s six-state northeastern corner.
Gods willing, your columnist will be there where boxing news is made. Look for more coverage of New England fights in the coming weeks and months as The Boxing Tribune continues to be your only true source of real, unbiased, un-paid-for by promoters, hardcore fight news. Personally, I’m just glad to be home.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and a rousing chorus of “you suck” from that Triple-A minor league affiliate city of the greatest city on earth can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Say hi to the Farrelly Brothers and Seth MacFarlane for me, Providence. And keep telling yourself you’re something other than a half hour’s distraction between Massachusetts and Connecticut.
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