By Ivan G. Goldman
See if your Saturday night experience was anything like this. You and friends are crowded around a flat screen, everyone trying to keep track of two competing Las Vegas cards. The mind blends what might as well be a live-action Picasso into a vicious mass of arms, chins, torsos, blood, pleading seconds, and cosmetically enhanced announcers.
You know what you saw, but sorting it all out requires precision engineering that can’t be integrated with the beverages, debates, and pizza slices. Your memory hangs onto the images of particular punches, but who threw them at which opponents can be tough to fish out of the maw of violence and programming designed to keep you from switching channels, which of course you do anyway.
You’re not even sure anymore whether Guillermo Rigondeaux is Cuban or Armenian, but the main events pretty much came out the way you figured. Sergio Martinez won on points against a really tough Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and Canelo Alvarez stopped brave little Josesito Lopez after beating him up just enough to satisfy the paying customers. Welcome to post-fight stupor.
Here are some of the jumbled elements that poked through my throbbing skull, in no apparent order:
* If Boxing is dead, how come two cards were able to sell out the same night in the same town, pulling in somewhere around 35,000 on-site customers? That’s enough to pack a baseball stadium. And there weren’t even any heavyweights anywhere.
* Was Showtime actually serious when it asked viewers to vote for the best knockout of the night on Mexican Independence Day weekend? Who did they think was going to win that one? Marcos Maidana of Argentina just because he deserved it? Give us a break.
* Pinch me. I’m having that nightmare again. Did I just see Joe Cortez refereeing a main event so soon after he single-handedly destroyed the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz match by signaling the fighters to begin without even knowing where they were standing or what they were looking at? Do Nevada officials have no shame whatsoever? How long must our noses be rubbed in the noxious swamp of their ineptitude?
* What was Showtime thinking when it inserted hopelessly under-equipped Mauro Ranallo, a refugee from cage-fighting and wrestling broadcasts into a prime-time boxing show? He has a ridiculously overhyped voice which, combined with his inability to know what’s really dramatic and what isn’t, creates a steady flow of misplaced hysteria. Meanwhile ShoBox’s Steve Farhood, a canny, respected fight journalist, was relegated to sitting off-camera and scoring the fights. This is like pulling Emily Dickinson out of the library so you can make room for more Little Lulu comic books. But like my Uncle Mo used to say, there ain’t no justice. Especially on TV.
* On the other hand, Paulie Malignaggi turned out to be an astute, entertaining analyst. Remember when Clemenza told his mob soldier to leave the gun and, take the cannoli? Leave Ranallo and keep Farhood and Malignaggi.
* Martinez-Chavez was one pay-per-view fight that was probably worth the money. A great match-up of styles with an almost-Rocky ending that allowed the Mexican fans to go home happy with the memory of a dazed, barely conscious Sergio barely able to rise from the canvas, and hold on till he heard the blessed bell. Martinez got most of what he wanted, courageous Chavez and his papa got a lot of what they wanted, and justice was done.
I like Martinez, but when you shoot your mouth off the way he did you should expect a big right hand will make you look dumb. That’s how the world works. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit in the wind, you don’t make ugly threats. Or was it a hook?
* It wasn’t Canelo’s fault he was placed at the winning end of an unfair match. He’s a terrific, exciting presence. There ought to be a Mayweather or a Miguel Cotto in his future. Maybe both. Plus Chavez, which brings us to the next point.
* Top Rank and Golden Boy proved they both have the resources to put on head-to-head cards in the same town on the same night and give fans something worth seeing. Now they need to be able to match their fighters against each other like grown-ups.
* Has anyone ever seen Maidana in a bad fight?
* Bring back Leo Santa Cruz as quick as possible. That is one thrilling, intense dude, though my mind can’t unscramble which channel he was on.
* Ditto for Robert Marroquin.
* I agree with the crowd that Miguel Beltran didn’t deserve a loss against Roman Martinez. Martinez was tenacious, but Beltran had his head bouncing around all night.
* Did I see middleweights Matthew Macklin and Joachim Alcine? I’d swear they were supposed to be on TV. Maybe I blinked.
Ivan G. Goldman’s critically acclaimed novel The Barfighter is set in the world of boxing. Information HERE