We the World’s Strongest

06.10.06 - By Anthony Coleman: A capacity crowd has come to this outdoor Las Vegas Arena for a special night of professional boxing. Yes this frenzied mass of humanity is anxious in anticipation for the main event for tonight’s card; however, another important moment is occurring tonight. On this moonlit Saturday night, Alex Watters will be making his professional debut.

Boxing fans, whether it be the historians or fans, are never in unanimous agreement about any given fighter. Yet, everybody who has seen any of Watters’ amateur fights knows that the kid has once in a lifetime talent and the ability to become great. Watters is blessed with superb physical and technical skills. He can punch with either hand and fire off great combinations in the blink of an eye. Alex also can glide around the ring like a jet and out-think his man. He is tall, with a long reach and handsome. He basically looks the part of a championship boxing hero.

His opponent for tonight’s fight, quite frankly, is here to lose. Frank Malone has a record of 2-8 with 1 KO. He is slow, clumsy, lacks defense and combination punching. This is for all intents and purposes a “W” in young Alex’s column.

While the crowd is still being entertained by two pugilists fighting in close corners, in the dressing room Alex Watters is getting his hands wrapped by a member of his ring crew. Everybody in the dressing room is impatiently waiting for the beginning of the fight. Watters’ trainer- Emmanuel Futch- is giving his star pupil instructions about the fight strategy. However, Watters is off into his own world, staring directly through that wall.

“Alex, what is wrong with you?”

“Huh, yeah I’m good Manny I’m just thinking.”

“Oh you’re thinking about this fight. I’ll tell you, I can understand the butterflies you’re feeling. I had the exact same feelings before my first fight too…”

Watters isn’t listening to a single word that his trainer is trying to say to him. Instead he can only think of the all-time great fighters that have passed before him. The Sugar Ray Robinsons, Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran, Joe Louis, Gerald McClellan, Chris Watson, Benny Paret, Duk Koo Kims. The last two names are the ones that have been flashing through Alex’s mind over the last two hours. It has caused him nothing but anxiety.

A knock on the door comes to the Watters dressing room. A man in a suit tells him that the previous fight is now completed and Alex will be going on in about ten minutes. With that Watters and his crew begin to put the finishing touches on the ring preparation. One of the men in his corner wraps the robe around the sullen future great and begins yelling out:

“You are the best. Can nobody stop you, boy; you are the world’s strongest fighter. The best there is at what you do.”

With those final words Alex begins to walk away and pace around the room, not looking at the faces inside the room. Futch suddenly realizes that something is wrong.

“Ok,” Emmanuel says. “Everybody clear the room I got something personal to say to Alex. Hurry Up! Get the Hell out!”

Futch walks over to his fighter who is now sitting on the floor with a blank expression with his knees pointed in the air, while his feet are fastened to the floor. His eyes are cold and intense. Not like an intense eyes of a fighter going in for the finish; this intensity is full of fear. Futch calmly asks Watter’s what is wrong.

“You know this is it right?” Watters says to Futch.

“This is what?” Emmanuel responds.

“This is the real deal. There are no more soft bullshit gloves or headgear to protect me. This is real boxing.”

Emmanuel finally realizes what is going on with his star fighter, and figures out why he hadn’t said more than twenty words in the better part of an hour. Eddie now sits next to his fighter and wraps his left arm around his shoulders.

“Alex, I’m not going to sugar coat the risks that could take place tonight. You know that if you step into that ring, there is a chance that you may not go home or if you do, you may never be the same. But, that is the risk of the game. Those same risks were there in the amateurs, even with the head gear. This is the truth. However, you weren’t affected when you fought back in the amateurs or in sparring. This is the life you have chosen and there are dangers that go along with it.”

Alex nods his head in agreement then has a small smirk on his face.

“Alex, I’ll tell you this: if I see you in trouble I promise that I will throw in the towel. I’ve known you too long to let anything happen to you. Besides, you father would kill me if I allowed you to get hurt in the ring.”

Alex now busts out in laughter and he is now getting ready to be sent into the ring. Gloves on, mouthpiece in tact, and robe on ready to hit the world’s stage.

“I’m Don Henry I would like to welcome you to this fight. The instructions have just been given to both fighters and they are waiting in their corners and waiting for the bell to ring (Ding). There it goes and now we’re off. Both fighters are now at the center of the ring Watters is the taller fighter with the white trunks, Malone in the red. Watters is one of our most highly decorated amateur fighters in American history and many are expecting him to do great things in the pro ranks. Watters is standing on the outside and firing that jab at his off balanced foe. Malone throws a right cross and misses by a mile. Now both fighters are on the outside posing and feinting. Watters is circling to his left and Malone is following him. Malone lunges in with a left jab and lands with it on Alex’s torso. Watters is now on the outside again circling left and right. I tell you what, from what I see Malone is highly off balanced because he stumbles every time he follows Watters. Watters paws with the jab and Malone comes in with a left-hook right-hook combination. The left hook lands, but the right hook is blocked by Watters’ shoulders. Watters is now on those ropes and he should really get back out there to the center of the ring. Malone bulls his way, but Watters spins him around and he is now back into the center of the ring. At center ring, Watters once again paws with the jab to Malone’s face and scores. I’m surprised that Watters has yet to throw a straight right down the pipe because Malone is literally wide open for that punch. We have a minute to go in the round and this has been a standard feel out round. So far you can see that Watters is the more complete and talented fighter, but his offense has yet to come out of hibernation. Malone throws a crude left hook and Watters slips it, but doesn’t return with a counter shot, but gets out of range and pops him again with another range finding jab. I don’t know what is going on. Malone is literally wide open to every counter shot imaginable, but Watters isn’t hitting him with his artillery. I wonder if he is extra tight or focused. If he is, then he’ll need to relax (clap, clap, clap). Ten seconds remain in this round and some boos can already be heard from this crowd, Malone tries to come in, but Watters ties him up (DING) and that’s the end of this round an easy but far from spectacular round for Alex Watters.”

Both men now return to their corners, and Alex has the early lead, but his trainer is furious.

“Sit in this stool, Now! I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you, but you better snap out of it! You have a sitting target right there and he’s open to any and every shot you have, now you go out there right now and show him who is the better fighter.”

With Emmanuel’s words now firmly stuck into his mind, Alex’s eyes turn into a cold hard and focused and competitively intense. He knows what he must do now. Watters now stands from the stool looking into the eyes of his opponent and waits for the bell to ring. Ding.

“Round 2 begins and both fighters meet at center ring. Watters spears Malone with a hard left jab, the first hard jab of the fight. Malone now throws another amateurish left hook and Watters makes him miss and sends home a counter left hook that stuns Malone and halts his progress. The first meaningful power shots of the fight from Watters and they land flush and cause damage. The fighters are once again on the outside and now Alex lands with a good lead left hook to Malone’s rib cage. Watters is coming out firing this round and Malone has yet to answer with anything of note. Watters now stands on the outside and fires a left jab that misses but follows it up with another left jab that lands and snaps Malone’s head back. Watters now lands a good one-two and Franco is stunned yet again. Watters is really throwing some clean and accurate combos and making Malone look totally inept. Malone throws a chopping overhand right, BUT WATTERS LANDS A COUNTER LEFT HOOK AND MALONE IS DOWN!! The crowd is going wild and Franco Malone is flat on his back. The refs count is at four and I don’t know if he is going to make it up, now Malone pops up to his feet and the ref is allowing this fight to continue. Let us see if Watters can finish this guy off. Malone is pinned into his neutral corner and Watters lands an overhand right followed by a hook to the body and an uppercut to the head and Malone is covering up! Watters is landing everything on him, the crowd is going crazy, the ref steps in and halts it. Watters wins the fight via a second round TKO! The Watters camp storms into the ring and pick up their fighter and it is pandemonium in this arena.”

Article posted on 07.10.2006

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