A few years ago, I started getting into boxing. Not actually fighting myself, but as a fan of the pugilistic arts.
It probably hearkens back to sleeping over my grandparents’ house and going through my grandfather’s “Ring Magazine” and hearing him talk about fighters like Larry Holmes and Joe Frazier coming into the Center City Philadelphia sporting goods store where he worked.
At any rate, I’ve been a pretty attentive fan the past several years–and my lovely wife puts up with it, even watches the occasional match with me. Together, we enjoy The Contender on ESPN as well. (If you didn’t know, that’s the “reality” show where they put a bunch of boxers in a house, they train together, but basically end up fighting for a big cash prize.)
Today, since I’m home, I’m catching up on stuff we’ve DVR’d. And I watched the Pacquiao/Marquez fight from a couple weeks ago. It was pretty much everything you want in a fight. Two veteran warriors battling it out–some rounds were more “boxing,” some were them just slugging it out. Each guy had a cut or two, and the one above Marquez’s eye threatened to end the fight–it was that ugly.
But blood and guts is what these two dudes are all about. And the difference-maker, according to the judges, was Pacquiao’s knockdown of Marquez in Round 3. So Pac-man ended up winning in a split decision (two judges to one), taking away Marquez’s championship belt.
[Note: My friend and former co-worker Andrei is from the Phillippines, and he told me that when Pacquiao fights, the entire country shuts down to watch.]
And there are some tremendous fights scheduled for the next few months that I’m psyched about (courtesy ESPN.com):
At Salamanca, N.Y. (ESPN2): Kassim Ouma vs. Cornelius Bundrage, 10 rounds, junior middleweights
Note: Bundrage was a scrappy competitor on a previous season of The Contender, and Shannon and I really rooted for him. It’s good to see him getting exposure on Friday Night Fights.
At Atlantic City, N.J. (HBO): Miguel Cotto vs. Alfonso Gomez, 12 rounds, for Cotto’s WBA welterweight title; Kermit Cintron vs. Antonio Margarito, rematch, 12 rounds, for Cintron’s IBF welterweight title
Note: Alfonso Gomez is Shannon’s favorite…a good-looking, smart, “nice guy” from The Contender. I like him because he’s got great heart and works very hard, and he even beat legendary warrior Arturo Gatti so badly he retired. The Cintron/Margarito rematch is exciting for me because the last time I saw Cintron fight, he knocked out a guy in 29 seconds.
At Las Vegas (HBO): Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Calzaghe, 12 rounds, for Hopkins’ Ring magazine light heavyweight title
Note: This is a huge one. Bernard is a former convict from Philly, and has had an amazing championship career after turning his life around. He’s currently the Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight Champion, after spending much of his career as a middleweight.
Calzaghe is a crazygood Welshman who first came to my attention (and pretty much the non-UK-world’s attention) when he pounded the poop out of much-heralded U.S. Olympian Jeff Lacy, just utterly dominating the young Yank. Since then, Calzaghe basically crushed everybody else he faced, and he’s the first undisputed super middleweight champ. Not to mention that he’s 44-0-0.
Can’t wait for this one, and the great thing is that it’s not a pay-per-view fight–it’ll be on regular HBO. Sweet!