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Going down memory lane in Las Vegas.

01 May

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The City of Sin also known as Mecca of boxing is rich with pugilistic history and magical moments.  Big boxing weekend in Las Vegas is like a convention of sweet science people; you know you are going to run into regulars, but there is always a surprise. Such was the case when I came to cover the fight before the big event (Pacquiao vs. Bradley II), Friday Night Fights card televised by ESPN and promoted by Top Rank at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Just as I was interviewing former champ, Zab Judah and hearing about his most memorable fight and a famous left hook to the body he took from Mickey Ward, the Irish slugger appeared and started to exchange pleasantries. “I was just talking about you, bro!” exclaimed Judah. What a coincidence, what a surprise. Zab couldn’t forget asking his father to stop the fight after taking a left hook to the body from Mickey. I can’t forget Gatty Word l; it was brutal and breathtaking. Irish Mickey Ward remembers his bid for a title in England, seemingly hopelessly behind on scorecards landing his famous left hook… those were the days, and boxing seemed more pure back then.  But maybe this is what every old timer does, reminisce about old times.

Running into Shane Mosley’s dad Jack later on made me remember good old days some more. One particular fight that came to my mind was Oscar DeLaHoya vs. Shane Mosley l that took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in June of 2000. It was a violent, high skill level and high drama, frantic pace battle. Sugar Shane Mosley was able to pull off a split decision victory with a spirited rally in the twelfth round. I remember feeling guilty about enjoying the violence in the ring and at the same time worrying about amount of hard punches each man had to absorb. I remember thinking that it really takes super human resolve and conditioning to be a professional prize fighter.

Jack Mosley remembered his son’s fight with Puerto Rican slick boxer, Wilfredo Rivera at Pechanga Resort and Casino in 1999. “I told Shane they have him winning the fight son,” said Mosley Sr.:” And Shane went out and knocked him out in the tenth round.” Aside from his son Jack Mosley reminisced about Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston fight. Ali looking down on his fallen prey and yelling:” Get up, get up!!!!” That was a long time ago. I wasn’t even three years old at the time and I wasn’t thinking about fistic combat.

HBO’s Max Kellerman didn’t have to think twice about his favorite fight.” Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo I,” said Max:” It’s the best action fight in recorded boxing history.” I remember watching this fight at my home on a big screen TV, getting up from my couch in the middle of the first round and thinking: ”Wow, here we go!”, standing on my feet and jumping around and screaming , bothering my wife, until a dramatic ending in the tenth. Veteran scribe David Avila agreed:” everybody expected it to be a war and it was and it even surpassed that. The drama, knockdowns… It was so exciting that you saw fighters that never really get excited running around the arena, jumping up and down. Fighters like James Toney and Winky Wright. They were like little children.”

“Ali Frazier I in Madison Square Garden in 1971,” said HBO’s Larry Merchant who got to interview “The Greatest” only a hundred times:” It was an extraordinary emotional time. The whole world seemed wired into that.” And the fight itself took both men to the brink of death and was probably only decided in the fifteenth round when Smoking’ Joe Frazier dropped Ali with a left hook. I was nine years old then and didn’t get to see my first fight till 1975, Ali Frazier III, a fight known as” The Trilla in Manila”. I watched that fight on a black and white TV at my grandmother’s house. I couldn’t fall asleep that night thinking about brutality and beyond human endurance and determination of both men. I became an instant boxing fan for life.

Thirty nine years later I was at the Mecca of boxing, MGM Grand Garden Arena enjoying Pacquiao Bradley II scrap. It was a good fight with high level of skills and intensity, but it lacked drama of Pacman fights of earlier days. The first fight with Marquez sticks out in my mind. Those were the days when Pacman was like a Pacific typhoon in the ring. Before anybody could blink Marquez was down three times. It was a miracle referee didn’t stop the fight then. Or maybe it was boxing gods smiling on fans and allowing history to create itself, because few rounds later I thought:” Wow, Marquez is in the fight!” And then a few more rounds later:” Wow Marquez is controlling this fight.” Judges scored it a draw, but fans are debating who the victor was till today.

 

Ring TV’s prolific scribe Lem Satterfield remembered watching Leonard Hearns when he was eighteen years old and how the roles reversed and Sugar ray Leonard became the puncher and Tommy Hearns turned into a boxer. “There was not one instant in that fight of let down,” said Satterfield.

However, Arguello vs. Pryor I is the most intense battle I have ever seen. I think I held my breath for the whole fourteen rounds and thought:” They can’t keep doing it!” And they kept doing it. That is my favorite fight of all times. What is yours?

 

 

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Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Professional Boxing

 

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