The measure of a man is not what he aggressively erases from YouTube, messages boards, and social media. Instead, it’s found in the courage he displays in pushing forward blindly, lacking in self-awareness and beefed up with inflated self-worth.
Former Ring Magazine contributor and International Boxing Hall of Fame elector Michael Montero is many things. He’s a self-described boxing writer, talker, tweeter, boxer, journalist, actor, financial business analyst, critic, skeptic, autodidact , but nobody can ever deny that he’s a man…or, at least, male.
On September 9 at the Rock Hill Sports & Event Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the 44-year-old Montero, battling a case of the sniffles, made his professional boxing debut and paved a path to greatness few will ever comprehend.
Matched against the swarming ferocity known as Zytrell Mitchell (0-0), Montero built upon his already prodigious legacy with an effort that can only be described as “legendary.”
A humble man at heart, the one-time member of the Boxing Writers Association of America refused to take advantage of his considerable celebrity and opted, instead, to fight early on the undercard rather than headline the event promoted by Laced Up Promotions.
“They wanted to make me one of the fights toward the end of the card, closer to the main event,” Montero told the viewer(s) on his TNC podcast. “I said, ‘man, I just want to fight early on the undercard. I don’t want it to be about me. I just want to get in the ring, that’s all.’ I just wanted it to be quiet.”
But greatness has its own voice. And, in the case of Michael Montero, it roared.
Now the stuff of legend, the brutal final touches of his legendary TKO 1 (1:45) triumph are best described by the man, himself:
“He got a little bit tired…I had to crouch down low, because he was like 5 inches shorter than me…and I landed an uppercut right to the solar plexus…I was, like, ‘let me go right for that gut.’ So, I put a right uppercut right into his gut and he immediately fell…The problem was, for me to get down that close to land that punch, I had to really step in, so I was right on top of him. So when he fell, he fell on my legs. So, I fell. So, we both fell.
“The ref was behind me, didn’t see the punch, so he called it a slip and I’m, like, ‘no, that was a knockdown, dude.’ But I didn’t get mad. I realized, you know what? I still got half this round left, my opponent knows that was a real knockdown, and he’s hurt.
“I thought about it in that moment and I’m, like, you know, I really want to showcase my skills. I want to box a little bit. I wanna take a few rounds and show everyone what I can do. But there was this little voice in my head that said ‘Mike. He’s hurt, just F’n finish it. Just go finish it.’ And, so, that’s what I did.
“I literally– when the ref said ‘fight’ and broke us up, put us in a neutral corner– I sprinted across the ring…and threw a straight right hand right back to the solar plexus and he kinda hunched over and then I landed two little left hooks and he went down, fight’s over…
“I was a little bit pissed because I was like, man, I wish he would’ve let him get up one more time because I wanted a CLEAN knockout. I wanted that clean concussion, put the dude to sleep kind of knockout…”
Haters and members of the “demographic” who saw the bootleg video of the fight and share it clandestinely via private message dispute Montero’s account of the battle. They say the fight was nothing but a lot of sloppy flailing from both combatants that, ultimately, saw a rotund and obscenely out of shape Zytrell Mitchell collapse, without being touched, from sheer exhaustion. One particularly hateful beta-male unpaid intern would comment that Mitchell looked like he had eaten an entire pan pizza right before the fight and was cramping up. Haters.
Montero would put everything into perspective as he continued to recap things on his podcast.
“I only ended up throwing, like, five punches, but they all landed and every one of them had an impact and that’s all it took…First round knockout, how much more dominant can you get? I wasn’t in there fighting Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua, I get that, but against this level of opponent that you’re gonna fight in your pro debut, you’re supposed to get ’em out of there if you’re on a certain level yourself. And that’s what I did. So, I showed my quality and my level…It was decisive and dominant. I got my W.”
When commenting on whether he’ll keep his red hot career going, Montero played it coy, instead talking up the benefit of this triumph and hinting at yet another feat he might be looking to tackle.
“It’s really been a humbling, educational experience. I think it’s made me a better human being. I think, ultimately, it’s gonna help contribute making me a better husband, father, all of it…What an experience, man…I feel like I could write a book, ‘The Life of a 4-Round Fighter.'”
The literary world awaits.
For now, though, the boxing world continues to count itself lucky for the insight he brings to the table.
When a caller on his podcast breezed past Montero’s feats of glory to talk about the controversial “low blow” Oleksandr Usyk-Daniel Dubois title fight from a couple weeks prior, the now 1-0 pro rightfully brought things back into perspective.
“There’s a lot of things that happen in a fight…I had to figure it out– and I did. Dubois had an amazing opportunity and just didn’t figure it out.”
Well said. Not every man is fit for greatness.
In boxing, just as in real life, the measure of a man does not necessarily center around victory. Rather, true worth is built on loftier, more elusive intangibles such as shameless self-aggrandizement, self-importance, and oddly bitter right wing politics. Montero gets that.
In less than seven months, the man has gone from self-imposed retirement from social media/podcasting in protest of a sickly boxing scene to a full step forward in bulling his way towards a new tomorrow, punching a path to making the sport great again.