Boxing – In a Nut Shell
15.08.05 - By Lee Hayes: Last night I went over to my friend Jason’s place to watch some fights. He’s just recently become interested in the sport of boxing, so I have been slowly introducing him to pugilism and its history. It’s been very interesting and revitalizing to observe somebody witness the awesome display of Jack Dempsey as he destroyed Jess Willard for the first time. I never get sick of the look on a new fans face. Watching their reaction to seeing Sugar Ray Robinson fighting in his prime for the first time also has to rank right up there. Apparently genius transcends the vehicle it is displayed in, and just as I can admire the Sistine Chapel without having to be an architect or an artist, my friend could see what was obvious in the pugilistic Michelangelo, Robinson.
Article posted on 16.08.2005
This last evening however was not spent reviewing tapes from the 20’s or 50’s. I decided to bring over a collection of more modern fights.
The DVD’s included Roy Jones Jr. vs. John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight championship belt, Wladmir Klitschko vs. Corrie Sanders for the WBO heavyweight championship belt, Manny Pacquio vs. Erik Morales, and Big George Forman vs. Michael Moorer for the heavyweight championship of the world. To add to the entertainment of the evening, Greg, my friend Jason’s roommate was in attendance. Greg’s entire experience with boxing had been seeing Mike Tyson bite Evander Holyfield’s ears and watching Antonio Tarver destroy Roy Jones Jr. with a single punch on sports highlight reels.
After we finished watching all of the fights, I asked them a simple question, to sum up what their opinion of the sport currently was, based on only what I’d shown them that evening. This is what they came up with:
The first observation made was from Greg after seeing Jones vs. Ruiz. He said “Roy was far more talented than I thought, but then again, I’ve only ever seen him get KO’d by that Antonio guy”. I told him that he hadn’t seen the tip of the ice burg. That most of Jones more impressive feats had taken place years before he fought John. Both of my friends were shocked when I revealed to them that the fight with Ruiz was not that long ago, and that it was the last fight Roy had before facing Tarver and Johnson. They found it hard to believe that Roy could have gone from the performance with Ruiz to where he is today in such a short period of time.
The next observation came from my friend Jason. He noted that Manny Pacquio and Erik Morales were both “awesome” and “amazing”. He couldn’t believe how fast they were, or how hard Manny punched. His roommate stated that he had no idea that a Mexican boxer could be so technically skilled, like Morales. (Without actually seeing great technicians such as Salvador Sanchez or J.C. Chavez, Greg only had stereotypes to go by, such as that all Spanish fighters are head first bangers). Out of all of the evening’s fighters, he liked Erik the most.
When we watched George Foreman fight Michael Moorer, neither of these guys knew that this was the fight in which Foreman regained the title. They had both heard about it, as had almost everything in North America, but neither had witnessed any of Foreman’s fights. As the fight progressed they began feeling sorry for the big guy. They noted the fight seemed quite one sided and that Foreman was absorbing some major blows to the face. When the knock out blow finally came in the 10th round, their jaws simultaneously dropped and there was just silence. We watched the knock out on replay about 4 or 5 times. I informed them that Moorer’s jaw was reported to have been broken by that single blow, as well as probably his nose. They realized that they had watched something very special with that fight, a genuine piece of history. I got to relive that moment as if it were the first time I saw it all over again.
The final bout we watched was Wladimir Klitschko vs. Corrie Sanders. I hadn’t brought it by intention, because I was more interested in showing them Vitali Klitschko, however, the Sanders fight was part of my Jones vs. Ruiz DVD, so it was just bonus film. Still, it served the purpose of showing them action, a brutal KO, and that anything can happen in the sport at any time. They were incredibly impressed by the footage leading up to the fight, which showed Wladimir in better days. Jason commented “Ivan Drago!” and I just laughed. They both were amazed by the physical specimen Klitschko was. They both laughed at Sanders for the exact opposite reason. I did not mention anything about Corrie, and they both joked about how he was in for a major league beat down by Wlad, based purely on the highlights they had watched, and his appearance. They were shocked by what they witnessed only 5 minutes later. They both noted that Sanders was obviously a devastating puncher, and that his punches seemed very “sneaky” and hard to read. They also noted that Klitschko appeared to not know how to react to being hammered like that, that he clearly couldn’t take flush shots on the chin, and that he showed a lot of heart by continually climbing up from each knock down. I nodded.
After listening to the opinions of two complete ring novices give their report on the state of the game, and what they thought about all of those fights, I realized that they were right on spot. Everything they observed was in my opinion, exactly how it is. It was “boxing in a nutshell”. And it showed me that you do not have to be involved in the sport for 40 years to know what is presented in front of you, and that sometimes the untrained eye are the least biased, and most accurate assessment. I also managed to bring in two new fans of the sport, who are already asking me to bring more footage over next weekend. (Something I look forward to doing, as I’m planning on lugging over Hagler vs. Hearns, Corrales vs. Castillo, Roy Jones Jr. vs. James Toney, Lewis vs. Klitschko and all three Gatti vs. Ward classics). I can’t wait.
If you ever begin to get beaten down by the ugly side of the sport, the alphabet belts, the crooked promoters, or you are just looking to regenerate the way you once felt about boxing, I highly recommend finding a few new faces to introduce to the fistic arts. It’s a quick, easy way to remind yourself why you fell in love with it in the first place, and it can be a real eye opener.
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