Friday, November 13, 2009
AB.com Guest Post - It’s Not Memorex So It Must Be Live: Live Notes From The “Sweet Science” of Boxing
Regular readers of AverageBro will recall AB’s recent frustration with the overpriced, over-hyped and under-delivering world of Pay-Per-View boxing. A few weeks back, he wrote about attending the title fight at the George Mason University Patriot Center, where Jimmy Lange successfully defended his WBC USNBC Jr. Middleweight Championship against a formidable challenge by Jonathan Reid.
Now, I am taking up Average Bro’s “Average Nation®” invitation to his readers and adding my own thoughts from that great night of boxing. The fact that Jimmy Lange retained his title and DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley won his comeback bout is old news by now, so I am offering a series of overall comments and observations, now that I’ve had time to let it all settle. (For a complete news account of the evening, read and hear what Gary “Digital” Williams had to say in his “Boxing Along The Beltway” blog entry on for September 26th.
• This was Jimmy Lange’s 8th headline bout at the Patriot Center since he garnered national attention on the original season of The Contender on NBC. (That first season was the only one on primetime television, with Sugar Ray Leonard, Sylvester Stallone, and Jackie “The First Lady of Boxing” Kallen, the head of ICE Promotions, who promoted the live card.) What’s been remarkable is that all eight have been arena shows. In boxing there are “club shows” and “arena shows.” The biggest difference is that club shows attract hundreds and arena shows attract thousands. Anybody who watches boxing regularly on ESPN, Showtime, VERSUS or HBO knows that the vast majority of boxing cards are club shows. For a non-world title holder to headline an arena show is unusual. For one to headline eight of them, averaging slightly under 5,000 attendees per show, is practically unheard of.
• Another major difference between arena shows and most club shows is that you don’t see a lot of “professional opponents,” those who are brought in because, in all likelihood, they will lose to the favorite. (To be clear, professional opponents are not paid to take a dive, but rather are of marginal talent and expected to be a safe bet for whoever is the local hero/favorite son.) In the case of this Patriot Center card, the fighters were so evenly matched that two of the first three fights ended in draws. In fact, by the time the fifth bout began I began to fear that the fighters were too evenly matched and we’d go the whole evening without a single knockout. (Watching a live boxing card without a single knockout is like watching a football game that is won entirely on field goals.)
• The fear of a KO-free evening didn’t last long into the fifth bout, as Tony “Mo Better” Jeter dropped Keith Gross with the most decisive single-punch KO in recent local memory.
I don’t think the ref got past two on the “ten-count” before he waved the fight over and motioned anxiously for the ring doctor. One note to Tony, though. I’m sure that there must be a section of Emily Post or Gloria Vanderbilt somewhere that specifies the proper etiquette of, before circling the ring and motioning for the crowd to cheer louder, waiting until your opponent has regained consciousness. Fortunately, he had a cornerman who yanked him back for a brief sportsmanship brush-up.
• Back to the subject of draws, I have never understood why nearly all professional boxing matches are scheduled for an even number of rounds. Unless one has given up all hope of a win, nobody finds satisfaction in a tie. All it would take to remedy most of these draws would be an odd number of rounds. I understand why the “standard” 15-round title fight was reduced to 12 rounds after the highly-publicized tragic death of Duk Koo Kim in 1982, following his title fight with Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. But why can’t there be more 4-round matches, or 7, 9, or 11-round matches?
• If you are a boxer making your ring entrance standing atop the back of a motorcycle, dressed in red spandex tights and sporting a space helmet over your Mohawk haircut, you better have the ring performance to back it up. Fortunately for DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley, he was able to pull off this entrance, while being flanked by a procession of “junior space aliens,” (one of whom he inadvertently kicked in the helmet while dismounting the bike.) While Corley won the unanimous decision over Harrison Cuello, he will need to step it up a notch before he re-invents himself as “The Extra Terrestrial” moniker with which is trying to replace “Chop Chop.”
• Perhaps the scariest part of the Corley fight was when he stumbled backwards and would have likely fallen through the ropes, had he not been grabbed by the referee. The same thing happened when Jimmy Lange did fall through the ropes against Grover Wiley. (In Lange’s case, it was only his father’s being in the right place to break his fall, which kept him from landing head-first on the concrete floor.) I’m certainly not the first to warn that boxing ring aprons (the square of floor that extends under the ropes, surrounding the ring,) needs to be extended before a fighter is seriously injured.
• Judging by the crowd noise, signs and tee-shirts, the undercard fighter with the largest fan contingent present was neither Corley, Jeter, nor undefeated prospect Bayan Jargal, but rather Jennifer Salinas, AKA either the “Bolivian Queen” or “Bolivian Bombshell.” Return invitations to these cards are as much a matter of box office as performance, and Salinas, in her victory over Caitlin Dance, should have easily had her return ticket stamped on both counts.
• One of the ring announcements receiving the loudest cheer was the scheduled induction of the aforementioned blogger Gary “Digital” Williams into the Washington, D.C., Boxing Hall of Fame. He will join last year’s inductee Henry “Discombobulating” Jones, as one of the relatively few honorees outside of the locker room and business office.
• In the past Patriot Center cards, the question has been raised about why four ring-card girls are necessary to parade the cards around the ring, designating which round is ahead. (It’s usually phrased as either a blonde joke, or a light bulb joke, ie. one is needed to ____, and the other three are needed to _____.) Well, after this night, we know that the real answer to “Why is it necessary to have four ring-card girls?” is “Because three ring-card girls can’t handle it.” The promoters tried downsizing to three, and paid the price. One round was missed entirely, another round was preceded by the wrong-number card, and one poor gal proudly strutted around the ring announcing “Round 5”….at the conclusion of a four-round fight
• And finally, if you are new to boxing and attending your first live fight card, welcome. But please take a few seconds to glance at the names on the bout sheet before standing up and shouting “Go Black Trunks!”
Question: If you are a boxing fan, what was the best live show you ever saw? And if you are not a boxing fan, which sport do you think benefits most from the live, collective experience, as opposed to watching the flatscreen in the privacy of your own home?
“Saturday Night Fights” was promoted by ICE Promotions and publicized by Brotman ▪ Winter ▪ Fried Communications. Christopher P. Nicholson is a full-time independent writer based in Sterling, Va. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org