Monday, January 26, 2009

Saturday Night Is The Night For Fighting

If you watch enough boxing you are going to run into several phrases that will be repeated by the announcers ad nauseam. Some that immediately spring to mind:

  1. “Styles make fights”
  2. “Boxing is the theater of the unexpected”
  3. “He doesn’t like it to the body” (NOTE: Who in fact DOES enjoy being hit in the stomach? This one is so old that it’s an exclamation in a 1949 film The Set-Up)
  4. “That’s why they fight the fights.” (Normally said after an upset)
  5. “Every great fighter has one last great fight in him”
  6. “Good big man beats good little man"

Personifying the first five sayings was Saturday night at the Staples Center as “Sugar” Shane Mosley managed to beat the crap out of 4-1 favorite “The Tijuana Tornado” Antonio Margarito. For my money there was no way Margarito loses the fight, he was too young, too tough, Shane was over the hill, there was no way Mosley could pull the trigger anymore. I called the fight Shane’s last stand and was looking forward to Mosley putting on a helluva show before falling to the stronger, younger champion. The mere mention of a Mosley upset caused Rich and I to roll our eyes:

Sure it could happen but we could also all be killed by an asteroid tomorrow, I wasn’t exactly banking on a boxing miracle.

As I ate crow in front of the rabid Staples crowd, the largest ever assembled in the arena, watching Shane take Margarito to school I wondered why this was happening. Why was this event, which on paper defied all logic in fact playing out as it was. Was Margarito’s war last year with Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto to blame? Was the rumor that Margarito was caught cheating before the fight influencing his behavior causing him to be distracted? Was Mosley’s new trainer that much of a factor that the over the hill veteran suddenly regained the abilities of his prime? At the end of the day it was probably all of these factors and more, it really doesn’t matter though because no matter what happened, this is what Rich and I looked like throughout the fight:

Of all the old sayings I would have to say that number 2 is my favorite because it’s true and also why I keep coming back.

Win or lose on Saturday night it was a given that Shane Mosley would be heading to the boxing hall of fame. Likewise Antonio Margarito, despite this extreme set back, has forever left his mark by winning the Welterweight crown an achievement that cannot be taken away. Someone who has never and probably will never enjoy these pleasures is Luis Tapia.

Tapia fought on the undercard with the very unimposing record of 0-2. His opponent sported the record 5-1 with 5 knockouts. While a 5-1 record is nothing to write home about, when all 5 of those wins are by knockout and the evening’s opponent possesses 0 wins, the outcome of said undercard was in little doubt. Keeping this in mind my friends and I were pleased to see that apparently nobody told Luis he was supposed to lose.

Naturally smaller than his opponent with limited offensive capabilities Luis decided he had only one chance at victory: BOMBS AWAY. Fighting the first three rounds standing directly in front of the larger man and simply throwing everything he could Luis took the lead. When his opponent was docked a point in the third round for low blows it became apparent that if Luis could hold on, he would rack up his first victory. Visibly gassed, bleeding from the mouth and now suffering from a broken nose endured in the third round Luis battled through a rough fourth round taking large shots as my section screamed him on.

When he was announced as the winner I was pleasantly taken aback, this was a rarity, the jobber of the evening pulling the win out of thin air. It’s not like upsets don’t happen but normally not for fighters like Luis. I don’t know what will happen to him next. I can name several fighters who rebounded from an 0-1 record to become all time greats (Henry Armstrong, and Bernard Hopkins) but I have never heard of an all time great recovering from two losses right out of the gate. I wish Luis well, I hope he continues to pull upsets and entertain crowds.

For twenty minutes he was able to thrill the spectators of the Staples Center and win the 20+ thousand crowd. I might have been a live witness to the best night of his life and that is another reason I keep coming back.

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