It has been said that you do not find boxing, boxing finds you. Whether it comes calling to such an extent that you become a fighter yourself – think of the greats who were saved by this awesome sport; men and women who freely admit they would very likely have ended up dead or in jail were it not for boxing – or it reaches out to you and makes you a fight fan for life, boxing is unlike any other sport in that it quite literally hits you and it knocks you out.
Which fight or fighter did it to you? You surely remember.
Go back to the day or night that it happened, when boxing invaded your life and you welcomed it fully. For many millions of boxing nuts, Muhammad Ali did it to them; be it the great man or one of his numerous, world-shocking super fights.
For older fans, maybe it was Joe Louis, Ray Robinson, or one of the epic fights they had. For younger fight fans, perhaps it was Marvin Hagler or Mike Tyson. On the evening of May 21, 1989, Michael Watson fought Nigel Benn in London. The fight that raged inside the “Super Tent” did it to me. Benn, with his ultra-exciting combo of lethal power and complete lack of interest in defense, was electric. Watson, with his classy skills and his complete self-belief, was hugely impressive.
Benn tore at his rival, with nothing but a swift and savage knockout on his mind. The tension was almost unbearable, it was truly don’t blink stuff. Benn unloaded all he had on Watson, who took turns in rope-a-doping and firing back with clean and effective counters. Benn was soon ragged, tired, desperate. Watson was now in command, he had shown how a smart and educated boxer could master and then tame a deadly puncher.
In the sixth round, Watson dropped Benn with a crisp, well-placed jab, the shot draining Benn of anything he had left. It was a big upset at the time, Benn losing for the first time. People from all corners of the ring piled into the ring, with many others trying to get in the middle of the action. For a few worrying seconds, it looked like a riot of sorts might break out. Thankfully this was not the case and heartbeats returned to normal speed. But the magic had been unleashed, for millions of soon-to-be lifelong fight fans I’m sure.
For this fan, there was no going back, no way out. Not that I would have wished for it to be otherwise. No other sport in the world was or is capable of providing the intoxicating cocktail of emotions a fight like the one that took place on this Sunday evening had just hurled at me.
It was boxing forever. I was hooked.
So which fight did it to YOU?